Mexican food

A sampling of the Mexican-inspired fare in Southern California. 

I got to take a little warm weather get away this month, and along with the sunshine and lack of mud, snow and work, the best part of vacation was undoubtedly the food.

On our quick trip to sunny Southern California, my husband and I ate sushi with the freshest fish, salads with perfectly ripe avocados and burritos busting with flavor. Our vacation days were planned around “what are we eating next?” We left wishing we had more days to spare and bigger stomachs for just one more ice cream treat. There’s always room for ice cream, right?

There’s a saying that goes, “Did you eat today? Thank a farmer.” Yes, we ate. We ate so, so well. And we have much to be thankful for.

National Agriculture Week is March 22-28. It’s a time when we celebrate the food farmers put on our plates, the hard work they put in to provide it, and the many other things agriculture gives us.

Some of those non-food agricultural products were paired with our meals in California. Often our to-go meals came in compostable containers with utensils made of bioplastics. I love to see it.

You can say what you want about bans on plastic straws and grocery bags. With millions of people and a fragile ocean environment to protect, I don’t blame California for giving its people a little nudge to cut waste. And if there’s a product to replace fossil-fuel-based plastics, it’s neat to see that it can be made from byproducts of the corn and soybeans we grow in our Midwestern fields. It’s another way agriculture keeps are world going around.

And to take it one step further, how neat would it be if that little Canadair jet we flew out of the Watertown Regional Airport was burning biofuel made from oilseeds grown in that patchwork of fields below? Universities and innovative organizations are working to make that happen. The University of Minnesota has been studying crops like carinata and pennycress that can be turned into jet fuel.

They could be added to a crop rotation between corn and soybeans, providing a winter cover that keeps soil microbes alive and happy, ultimately benefiting yields down the line.

Agriculture sustains us day to day, and it’s helping to solve some of the world’s major problems linked to our changing climate.

Farmers already do so much to care for the land and work with the cycles of nature. It’s encouraging that the products they produce can be a part of a more sustainable future as well.

So thank you to all the farmers and ranchers out there doing your best to care for the land we all love. Thank you for filling our bellies with delicious food. And thank you to those researchers and innovators constantly looking for better ways of doing things. You all make our world a better place.

Janelle is editor of the Tri-State Neighbor, covering South Dakota, southwestern Minnesota, northwestern Iowa and northeastern Nebraska. Reach her at or follow on Twitter @JLNeighbor