The Awakening of Russell Henderson

Every Sunday, I try to post an excerpt from my novel, The Awakening of Russell Henderson. Here’s another. The book is available at

It was heady times. Karen and Mick became inseparable. I had never seen her so happy. I was still worried about her, but that passed slowly away. Mick began to join us for music every day. He was a good singer and could do harmony with Hanna much better than I could. We were working up several long sets.

Mick came to practice on a Tuesday afternoon. “Hey, I can get us a gig at the bar I where I work. My boss is up for it. Friday night if we want. You up for it?”

Hanna spoke first, “How long and what time?”

“We could go on early, 5:00 for the after work crowd. Play until nine?”

Hanna said, “I’d be up for it. I think we have enough material. I’ll do a set list. Maybe three sets? Fifteen or twenty minute breaks and it should work out. What about you Russell?”

“Why not? Sounds fun. Sure. Let’s do it.”

Food and Farming Part 6

So, are there any solutions to eating industrial food? Yes, and here are some.

The first would be, if at all possible, plant a garden, grow your own. I realize this isn’t possible for many. Many do not have space, live in apartments in a city, and for other valid reasons. Maybe you never planted or grew anything in your life and are not interested in learning or you don’t have the time and energy.

The next solution would be to visit your local farmers market if there is one close by. Buy directly from natural growers of which there are many and their numbers are increasing most everywhere. We are fortunate that where we live we have year ‘round access to fresh produce and locally grown free range meats and are able to buy directly from or once removed the local growers. As I say, we are very fortunate.

But if you live in an area where farmers markets aren’t available, check for local food co-ops which will generally stock organic produce. Also, there is the Natural Grocers chain available throughout the midwest and west. There is Whole Foods Market. And I’m pretty sure there may be other natural food stores depending on your locale. And, lastly, most large chains now have organic sections.

Of course, like everything, it boils down to economics. Be for-warned, natural foods are generally more expensive than industrial foods. There’s a reason for that, and as the saying goes, “you get what you pay for”. That can certainly be a factor for many depending on one’s food budget. But consider that a healthy strong body can be well worth the extra cost. What is the cost of illness? 

I might add that, the more folks who buy organic meats and produce, the more one supports the sustainable organic growers and the less profit is then given to the industrial farmers and the Big Ag thugs. Once a critical mass is attained, we can all hope that all food production might once again have the goal to produce clean healthy food for every one and hopefully bankrupt the corporate giants.

I will have one more post, so keep checking in . . .

Food and Farming

Food and Farming Part 5

 I would classify most food in an modern supermarket as being produced by what I like to call, “Industrial Farming”. Rather than the mom and pop farms of fifty years ago where food was produced in a sustainable more organic process as I described earlier, today’s food is essentially produced in massive scale, much of it processed with most all natural vitamins and minerals removed in the process. Read the labels on your cereal boxes and see how vitamins and minerals are added. Why add something if the food already naturally has such ingredients naturally?

Being processed or not, corn and soy products are all laced with the petroleum based fertilizers, and chemically produced pesticides and herbicides, all of which transfers down the food chain. 

An aside here, most all ground water in Iowa is now not safe for consumption. What I have read is that around 80% of all private wells are laced with previously mentioned fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. Swimming in or eating fish from Iowa lakes and streams is not recommended. So why is it then that food would be safe for human consumption? Two years before we moved from Iowa to Colorado, we hooked into the regional water line that had made it to our part of the county, even though we had a good well that supplied all our needs. When we listed our property, one of the first things prospective buyers asked was about where our water came from.

Beef, pork, and poultry are raised and finished in confined spaces. Hogs and poultry generally never see the sun since they are confined in cages from when they are weaned until they travel to the packing plants. In order to keep disease from running rampant in these cramped quarters, they are fed copious amounts of antibiotics which transfers down the food chain to the human consumers which can and does hinder antibiotics when administered to humans because humans have become immune from consuming it through the meat they eat. Confined livestock are also fed growth hormones for faster weight gain. What these animals ingest and transfer to humans cannot be a good thing. Bon Apétit.

Next, Solutions??? . . .

The Awakening of Russell Henderson

Every Sunday, I try to post an excerpt from my novel, The Awakening of Russell Henderson. Here’s another. The book is available at

I am a little late with this Sunday’s post. Spacing off????

We hadn’t eaten much earlier. I was getting hungry and had to slow down on the beer or I wouldn’t make it to dinner. At 3:00 we were called to sit. Hanna, Karen, myself, and, of course, Mick sat together at the long table. As soon as we were seated, the host called us to attention, reminding us that it was Thanksgiving and each of us were to turns giving thanks for at least one thing in our lives. Hanna’s turn came and she looked at me, smiling, gave me a peck on the cheek, “I’m thankful Russell picked me up along the road somewhere in Iowa sometime last summer.”

I said, I’m thankful I had the foresight to stop and pick up this beautiful amazing woman back in Iowa sometime last summer. And I thank Meg and Frank for giving us shelter for these last few months. It has been an incredible journey.”

“It was Karen’s turn and she said, “I give thanks for having my sweet and loving young brother who got me out here to this beautiful place . . . and for my new friend, Mick.” 

Mick said, “I give thanks for meeting Karen, here. And I extend a big thank you to Russell also for bringing Karen to us.”

I looked at Karen and she was blushing, smiling and had tears running down her face. I also saw they were holding hands under the table. 

Immediately after the after the last person had given their thanks, a bevy of waitpersons appeared pouring wine, setting enormous amounts of the traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, vegetables, cranberry sauce, rolls, along with vegan and vegetarian dishes. Unlike the Thanksgiving dinners I had been at, this was one of slow, deliberate eating, talk, toasts, cheers, wine. The meal lasted close to two hours. When everyone was finished the waitpersons magically appeared again, sweeping all dirty plates, utensils, leftover food and, glasses from the table. This was followed by a further waitperson assault serving us all with pumpkin pie a la mode and desert wines. 

By six, people began getting up and moving about. Appetites satiated, they moved towards more after dinner wines and continued conversation. Mick said loudly, “Let’s play some music.”

From nowhere, guitars, fiddles, mandolins, banjos, whistles, flutes, and Mick’s bass appeared. Tuned up, we launched into music, singing, and dancing. By 9:00, the temperature was dropping and we were slowing down. The food, drink, and copious marijuana had everyone pretty mellowed out. We were home by 10:30 and to welcome sleep.

Farming and Food Part 4

I worked for my dad until about 1960 when his health began to fail and he had to stop farming and rented it out, eventually selling it around 1963 or 1964. Meantime I began working in construction. 

As years moved on, I was removed from the farm scene and lost track of what was happening. I do recall, however, the farming boom in the seventies when farmers were buying newer and bigger machinery, more land when they could get it, and even airplanes. High grain prices apparently spurred the boom, which came to bust in the early eighties when prices suddenly dropped. Many farmers were leveraged to the hilt from borrowing for machinery and land as well as extravagances such as airplanes. Land prices fell, foreclosures were abundant, there were farm sales every Saturday where you could buy a $50,000 piece of machinery for pennies on the dollar. 

It wasn’t until the mid-nineteen eighties when I began teaching design at Iowa State University, a Land Grant University specializing in arts and sciences including agriculture, that I began to see what was happening.

The few farmers that had made it through the early eighties downturn had bought more land at cheap prices. Corporations and millionaires were buying land for tax shelters. Bigger, larger farms made small farms a thing of the past. Enter Monsanto, Cargill, DeKalb, and other seed and fertilizer giants who convinced the farm community about mono-culture farming, aka corn and soybeans, through the use of their seed, fertilizers, and pesticides which caused the once fertile soil to become lifeless by itself and could only produce crop yields by using the now ‘patented’ seeds and the accompanying fertilizers and pesticides. It became a racket that sucked farmers into the game and once in, it was difficult if not impossible to get out. Local landowners again had large loans for the land and giant machinery to farm 1000 acres, which was now considered a small farm. Distant investors wanted a return on the land they had bought and were renting out for more acreage for the locals. Sort of like the song, Hotel California. Once you were there you could never return. Sustainable was a thing of the past.

One final thought for this part, in the 1990s, someone donated a considerable amount of money to the Iowa State College of Agriculture with the stipulation that it be used to create the Aldo Leopold School of Sustainable Agriculture. (From Wikpedia: Aldo Leopold January 11, 1887 – April 21, 1948) was an American author, philosopher, naturalist, scientist, ecologist, forester, conservationist, and environmentalist. He was a professor at the University of Wisconsin and is best known for his book A Sand County Almanac (1949), which has sold more than two million copies.) 

As the story goes, the president of Monsanto called the ISU president letting him know that if this sustainable agriculture school moved forward, all Monsanto research funds would be immediately pulled. With the amount of research funding from Big Ag Corporations, the school of sustainable agriculture never happened. It goes to show the control large corporations exercise over research facilities such as Iowa State and how they skew research to meet their needs. Sustainable farming was not one of them.

Next, Our food today . . .