This time my column publish date is on Thanksgiving Day. I am supposed to talk about agriculture, but not about politics.
I have been wrestling with this because the first Thanksgiving itself was a celebration of political change. The colonists were originally organized on a utopian model in which everybody would grow food and hunt game and everybody would share equally in the bounty.
You have heard it before: from each according to his ability to each according to their need. Like all utopian endeavors it failed miserably. Facing certain starvation, the colonists had the integrity to admit that what they were doing was not working and that they had to try something else.
They then allocated to each family their own plot of land on which they would grow their own food and from which they could sell any surplus. In short order food production surpassed all expectations and a day of thanksgiving was held to celebrate their deliverance.
Yes, the colony was saved by private property ownership, self-interest, free enterprise and free trade. Why don’t we teach that truth in schools?
Sorry, that would require a political answer.
Maybe I should talk about the incredible bounty American agriculture has made available to you for today’s Thanksgiving Day repast. No, that would require addressing issues such as GMOs, organic foods, local foods, animal rights, food deserts and more, all of which are political in nature and not the non-biased, science-based topics we are supposed to provide in Extension.
Maybe I could talk about hunger in America and in the world. Sorry, I can’t do that either. We produce enough food today so no person on the planet need go hungry. People are hungry because politics gets between the people and the food.
Well then, let’s forget Thanksgiving Day as a topic. How about giving thanks for the medical advancements and the longer life span we enjoy today. Hmm, I can’t talk about the fact that aside from governments (way too political) malaria is the number one killer of human beings today. That inevitably leads to mosquito control. It naturally follows to state the fact that the chemical that has saved more human lives than any other is not penicillin, not soap, but DDT.
Good gosh, no, I could not possibly confront people with that truth. Generations have been weaned on disinformation about pesticides. I cannot talk about the discovery of the cause of colony collapse disorder (CCD) in honeybees. So many are so happily invested in CCD being caused by neonicotinoid insecticides. Neo means new. Nicotinoid means structure resembles nicotine. New nicotine-like insecticides are neonicotinoids. So many are adamant that pesticides cause the problem that few want to look at the following facts: North America uses neonicotinoids and has varroa mites and has CCD. Europe uses neonicotinoids and has varroa mites and has CCD. Australia uses lots of neonicotinoids but has no varroa mites and has no CCD. Why don’t you read about this in the news? Politics.
There is still a lot of money yet to be extorted from the chemical companies. So much so that Bayer Crop Science pulled Belt from the United States when the EPA would not even let it present the experimental data for pesticide registration. So whether a pesticide gets labeled no longer is based on scientific data but political whim. So I can’t talk about that either.
OK, here goes.
It’s too late to put fertilizer on your lawn but it is still not too late to put down your winter-weed pre-emerge. We have had a warm year, but the recent cooling trend is bringing on the winter weeds. Please, no fertilizer on your lawn until next May and that includes weed and feed products. The feed part is fertilizer. If you have not put fertilizer on your woody shrubs, a light, half-strength application is still acceptable. You missed your shot at autumn mole cricket control, so wait until next June and go after the next generation. Oh, wait, do mole crickets have rights?
Gardner is an Extension agent who lives in Ellabell.