Standing in front of a big screen, Nick Herringer claps in time with a metronome. He draws lines on the screen, repeating patterns drawn by the computer. He identifies icons of cars when they flash before his eyes. This is the 22-year-old’s speech and cognitive therapy, which he has been doing at least twice a week. Every week. For three years. Nick’s thick brown hair hides a massive, ear-to-ear scar from his four brain surgeries for glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer he has battled since he was a teenager. The lifelong Nebraska football fan had to quit playing football his freshman year at Hastings High School after his doctor told him: Your brain can’t withstand the hits. His mom, Tammy Herringer, drives Nick to therapy and back to the quiet country home his dad Jay Herringer built for the family. She takes Nick along shopping and to community events because he can’t go alone after the cancer and a car accident that further damaged his brain. Continue reading

Milpa: Growing Food in Harmony with Nature

Nebraska farmer Graham Christensen teams up with members of Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim, a local Maya community center, to plant and harvest a milpa garden. Milpa, the ancient Indigenous tradition of intercropping, provides multiple benefits to the grower and the community, as well as the soil, the broader ecosystem and the long-term health of our planet. Continue reading

Landowners, Environmental Groups Ask for More 'Proactive" State Regulation

One after another, landowners and representatives of environmental groups lined up Thursday night to urge state regulators to get tougher on large cattle feedlots and chicken and hog barns. During a public hearing held by the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy, there were calls for more “proactive” enforcement in clamping down on bad actors, and requests to track how manure is land applied to avoid contamination of groundwater and nearby streams. One Butler County resident said he could not understand how hundreds of thousands of dead chickens, which he said died in a complex of 12 chicken barns near his rural home, could be composted and then left to rot just outside David City. Continue reading

5th-Generation Farmer Graham Christensen on Regeneration, the Farm Bill and 'Talking Nebraska to Nebraskans'

A common concern on "Riverside Chats" isn't just the climate crisis, but the seeming inability to talk about existential risks like global warming when much of our bandwidth is taken up by the noise of culture wars. In previous conversations, a concept has come up as a model for what can help undo the damage of the past: regeneration. This is often employed through farming and grazing practices that restore degraded soil biodiversity — sequestering carbon and improving the water cycle. Continue reading

Costco's Inflation-Proof $4.99 Rotisserie Chicken, Explained

Americans love their chicken, eating some 7.5 billion of them every year. That’s enough for about 23 birds for every man, woman, and child in the country. So the fact that inflation has hit poultry prices particularly hard — chicken prices increased 18.6 percent between June 2021 and June 2022, outpacing inflation for food as a whole — has been tough for Americans to swallow. But throughout the year of inflation — and for 11 years before that — one poultry product has remained at the same bargain-basement price: Costco’s $4.99 rotisserie chicken. The roasted birds have been hailed as an economic lifeline — most rotisserie chickens will run you $6 to $10 — but the chicken isn’t cheap because of corporate benevolence. In 2015, Costco said it was able to maintain its low price because the company considers the rotisserie chicken a “loss leader.”  Continue reading

Stockholders Sue Costco Officials Over Alleged Mistreatment of Chickens Grown Too Big

A lawsuit claims that Costco is in violation of Nebraska and Iowa livestock welfare laws by breeding chickens that “unnaturally” grow too fast, become so fat they can’t stand up to reach food or water and end up dying. Two Costco shareholders filed the lawsuit Monday in Washington State, where Costco is based, against the company’s top executives and members of its board of directors, which includes Nebraska native Jeff Raikes. Some birds are so heavy they cannot stand up after falling on their backs, says the lawsuit, citing a 2021 hidden camera investigation by an animal rights group, Mercy for Animals. The Los Angeles-based group opposes large-scale, “factory farms.” Continue reading

A 5,000-Tractor Farmer Army: The Legacy of Tractorcade

Eating wind for 1,800 miles, Don Kimbrell crossed a country in 21 days, driving a John Deere G into history. He rode in Tractorcade — a 5,000-tractor farmer army that rumbled into Washington, D.C., in 1979, and occupied the National Mall, demanding political attention to address an agriculture industry in collapse. “I’d drive it all again right now, but my body wouldn’t stand the wear,” says Kimbrell, 78. “I was only 36 when I started that cross-country trip, but when I finished, I was an older man than I am right now.” What compelled a farmer to rage against the political machine?  Continue reading

The 2023 Farm Bill with GC Resolve

In this episode, we're joined by the team at GC Resolve to discuss the 2023 farm bill, and why it's such a big deal. What can consumers do to impact how the farm bill is written?This conversation tackles some of the issues around how the farm bills are structured and geared, and how despite constant conversations around the idea of supporting small farmers, little is done to actually support small farmers in the way farm insurance is structured, just for one example. Continue reading

Regenerate Agriculture Gaining Steam in Nebraska

For the last generation, sustainability has been the buzzword around agriculture. Now, a growing chorus is calling for a focus on “agricultural regeneration.” It’s about reclaiming the health of the soil, making our regions more food independent, and keeping our young people on the land, said Graham Christensen, the president of GC Resolve who lives near Oakland. GC Resolve is a communication and consulting company that is working to build resilient communities. Its focus is on environmentally and economically sound principles related to agricultural production. Continue reading

NRDC Report: Pathways to Regenerative Agriculture

Our food and farming system is facing a reckoning—a global pandemic that upended supply chains and unearthed the horrific consequences of a consolidated meatpacking industry, climate change threatening food production across the country, fertilizer shortages, rising prices at the grocery store, and a sector that accounts for 10 percent of the United State’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Our current agricultural system is failing us. It’s high time we build toward a stronger, healthier, more equitable, and more resilient one. NRDC’s report Regenerative Agriculture: Farm Policy for the 21st Century details an alternative vision of what agriculture can be—one that can respond better to external shocks (like a pandemic), combat climate change by embracing Indigenous growing principles, protect biodiversity by managing farms and ranches as ecosystems, and support competition while putting decision-making power back into the hands of independent farmers and ranchers. Continue reading