Mail bag a mixed holiday blessing


‘Tis the warm-wish sending season; the once-a-year time when family, friends and former neighbors post colorful cards and newsy letters to the lovely Catherine and me detailing their lives since last Christmas.
These merry arrivals contrast sharply with the mail I receive the rest of the year. Seems complainers and complimenters alike have no season because their thanks, thoughts and threats arrive 24/7 via telephone, e-mail and U.S. Postal Service.
Hate mail. Like the early December e-mail from a reader who, after hearing my thousandth scream for our government to slow its corporate free-trade policy, wrote to “highly recommend you read Allan (sic) Greenspan’s recent book so you can write intelligently on world trade, deficits, jobs and the effects they have on US Agriculture.”
Not a compliment, right?
Another e-mailer heated up my satellite downlink after reading a November column that suggested farmers’ heavy overuse of nitrogen fertilizer likely adds to global warming.
“Before you start to use the term sustainability when talking about food production it would be wise to know what that term means in today’s agriculture.”
What’s wisdom got to do with what I do, right?
Another e-mailer, a state fertilizer association flak, wrote after reading the nitrogen column that he “


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Alan Guebert was raised on an 800-acre, 100-cow southern Illinois dairy farm. After graduation from the University of Illinois in 1980, he served as a writer and editor at Professional Farmers of America, Successful Farming magazine and Farm Journal magazine. His syndicated agricultural column, The Farm and Food File, began in June, 1993, and now appears weekly in more than 70 publications throughout the U.S. and Canada. He and spouse Catherine, a social worker, have two adult children.