Living in Society

Car Talk – Primary Election Edition

Spring Cornfield

I brought the bundle of campaign mailers with me to Des Moines where I picked up my spouse who is helping her sister get settled in her new place. On the trip home, among fields of corn beginning to sprout, and wind turbines turning slowly in the steady breeze, we reviewed and discussed the three competitive races on the June 7 Democratic Primary ballot and made our decisions. It was a rational conversation, one like married couples have. We stopped by the county auditor’s office on the way home and cast our ballots.

The office was not crowded with early voters so I took my time voting. As I read each name on the ballot, I thought of my last in-person interaction with that person. There was one for each of the candidates. At a certain point in life one can have that. I’m learning to savor it. I slid the ballot in the ballot box and that was that: another election vote into the history books.

If I once thought the passing spring farm scene was bucolic, it is no more. While the neatly squared fields promise new life, the cultivation of corn and soybeans is ruining our water quality and environment. The practices are unsustainable despite how well measured and neatly planted are row crops. There is a system, well developed and based on scientific principles, but its result has been an unintended consequence.

A new study indicated the U.S. corn belt will be unsuitable for growing corn by the end of this century because of current technology and practices. “There may be a shift in corn cultivation from the Midwest to the Eastern region,” researchers found. It is important for farmers to make a shift from reliance on corn and soybeans going forward. It is hard enough for a farmer to make a living without disrupting the industrial agricultural practices they have come to know. Unless the government gets involved, such a transition seems unlikely.

The weather on Tuesday was peak Iowa. A light breeze, sunny skies, and comfortable humidity. We enjoy these days of partly cloudy skies and highways that seem to continue forever. We also enjoy the car talk as we find our way home.