BEEF talk

Oct 30, 2009



Just under the floorboards

If one has ever dismantled an old home, lifting the floorboards can be quite interesting. Perhaps it is as simple as an old coin that rolled between the boards or a long-held stash of papers put there as a place to reside and eventually were boarded over.

The sad truth is that the value of the find, which was worthy of a special place when packed away, more than likely will be trashed.

Time is the trump card that determines value. If things under the floorboards are not retrieved at some appropriate time, the value may be missed.

For us in agriculture, there are days when it would seem easier to live under the floorboards and let the complications of our world pass us by. The business of the day could be observed by sound.

We could hear those engaged in the day-to-day business of feeding the world running overhead while we chose to live out of sight and out of mind under the floorboards. That may seem a bit eccentric, but in some cases, it is true.

It is important to realize that if we choose to live under the floorboards, the rest of the world will speed by. The accessibility of the interaction with local markets, regional flavors and heritage foods are the cornerstone outlets for the products that may be served around the world.

Perhaps those who originally were involved do know the real flavor under the floorboards. However, remove one generation, seal the packet and add water upon opening, and the generation once removed seems happy. We hope we can remember those special times and those special foods that didn’t come from under the floorboards but were that special meal that only home could serve.

Maybe the flavors were not flavors at all. The flavor came from the stories, the sights and smells of all that was around us, plus the right plates, cups and person at the table or in the chair. Oddly enough, the smell of turned soil as the potatoes were dug and the musty cellar as one retrieved canned beets actually embellished the pot roast, mashed potatoes, gravy and the side of pickled beets and cucumbers (commonly called pickles).

Likewise, bringing home a freshly hunted pheasant may seem like it takes a lot of prep work, at least until the meal is served topped with new memories. Maybe life under the floorboards is not all that bad.

Some may laugh and there are always those who have a new scheme, a new market, and new need to travel somewhere. And that is all right.

But maybe, just maybe, many of our challenges are simply from the very speed at which we run. We comingle, mix, blend, stir and market.

We expand drive-through options, tighten the coffee lids, secure the cup holders and punch in driving directions. We charge the cell phone, expand data links and facilitate business and family operations as scheduled.

Maybe we simply ought to slow down. This is not a simple point and certainly not a point accommodated by the appointment desk. However, when it comes to agriculture, which translates into food, maybe flavor really does not exist. Instead, our food simply becomes what we are.

This is something to think about since pot roast and stew, one generation removed, is not pot roast and stew. However, I have to go because the trucks are coming and the calves are bawling. I need my flu shot (actually two of them), parent teacher conferences are scheduled, and the world needs to be fed. — Kris Ringwall

(Kris Ringwall is a North Dakota State University Extension Beef Specialist, Director of the NDSU Dickinson Research Center and Executive Director of the North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association. He can be contacted at 701/483-2045.)