Salad Lovers Toss as Crouton Shortage Looms | HumorOutcasts

Salad Lovers Toss as Crouton Shortage Looms

July 31, 2017
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GREEN RIDGE, Mo. Sam Jones has been a grain buyer in this small town for nearly four decades, but he wears an expression of concern as he watches farmers arrive at the local grain elevator to sell their crops. “If I had the money right now, which I don’t,” he says with a knowing look, “I’d be buying up all the croutons I could find.”


Ripe croutons, ready for harvest

 

Croutons–sauteed or rebaked bread that is seasoned, cut into cubes and added to salads and soups to provide texture and flavor–are a reliable cash crop in the Midwest, where school children have historically been excused from class during spring planting and fall harvest times.  “It’s a way of life,” says Marilee Dunham, whose husband Darrell puts their five sons and two daughters to work in early June “de-tasselling” crouton plants to enhance fertilization. “It teaches the kids about the rhythms of nature and the seasons, and the role of the Caesar salad in the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.”


Harvest time

 

But some fear the salad days of croutons are ending, with demand for biodiesel fuels eating up available acreage. “It’s sad,” says Wayne Durrell, Mayor of Green Ridge, whose seven year-old daughter Kylie was named Little Miss Crouton during the town’s annual Crouton Festival this summer. “To see a way of life wither away and die all because a bunch of goo-goo liberals want to feel good about what they put in the gas tanks of their hybrids.”


World’s Largest Crouton, Missouri State Fair, Sedalia, Mo.

 

As with all changes in economic trends, this one produces both winners and losers. While biodiesel producers benefit from government-sponsored tax breaks, small towns such as Green Ridge find their traditions threatened by agribusiness giants that buy up land at distressed prices and convert them to open-air factories, where a former independent farmer often finds himself tilling a field he once owned for a distant–-and faceless–-corporate crouton enterprise.


Bumper crop from 2014

 

“I’ll do what I have to in order to feed my family,” says Wendell Baker, Jr., whose family has raised croutons for three generations but who is now a contract employee for a commodities producer headquartered in Chicago. “But the pride we used to feel when we walked by the salad bar at Wendy’s is gone.”

Con Chapman

I’m a Boston-area writer, author of two novels (most recently “Making Partner”), a baseball book about the Red Sox and the Yankees (“The Year of the Gerbil”), ten published plays and 45 books of humor available in print and Kindle formats on amazon.com. My latest book “Scooter & Skipper Blow Things Up!” was released by HumorOutcasts Press last year. My humor has appeared in The Atlantic, The Christian Science Monitor, The Boston Globe and Barron’s, and I am working on a biography of Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington’s long-time alto sax player for Oxford University Press .

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2 Responses to Salad Lovers Toss as Crouton Shortage Looms

  1. July 31, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Well, I guess we’ll just have to go back to the old-fashioned way and make croutons out of home-baked bread, which is made from wheat flour. Uh oh! We’re back to the farmers again!

  2. July 31, 2017 at 8:04 am

    “Detasseling the crouton plants” made my day! Great post!



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