Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Eating Well
Refuel the Stomach and the Combine!
Karma Metzgar, C.F.C.S. Former Northwest Regional Nutrition Specialist, Nodaway County Extension Center, University of Missouri Extension
When farmers get behind the combine wheel, about the only
thing that will stop them is an evening dew, sleet, or a
downpour! Food often isn’t tempting enough unless it can be
eaten on the go - this is the story from our house.
Don't just stop to refuel the tractor, 18-wheeler, or
combine. Take a break and refuel yourself with an energizing
snack! An empty stomach and a dehydrated body can lead to an
Accidents aren't ever planned, but we can plan to prevent
them. Accidents often happen when one is tired, in a hurry,
or hungry. Judgment becomes impaired leading to a few
accidents and many close calls. Healthy eating habits can be
one accident prevention strategy. Farm workers need to learn
to “graze” when they are working extended hours in the
harvest field, doing chores, or attending to daily tasks.
Grazing means snacking or having mini-meals throughout the
day. This helps to keep the blood glucose levels fairly
even, therefore, keeping one alert and satisfied. When the
blood glucose is sent on a roller coaster ride with hit and
miss meals many hours apart, we have drowsy, sometimes
grouchy, farm workers who put themselves at risk when it
comes to their safety, especially when around machinery.
So how do you safely graze when you are in the back 40?
This question has two answers. Keep hot foods hot and cold
foods cold. If you have hot "carry-out" food, eat it
promptly and toss leftovers.
A cooler filled with an ice pack or even frozen water
bottles, will keep fruits, carrots, cheese, and sandwiches
at a safe temperature for several hours. It also makes
eating convenient and that may be the key when one is
Or you can have a stash of snacks you can graze on
throughout the day. This can be a jar of peanuts, boxes of
juice, raisins, popcorn, crackers, pretzels, granola bars,
cereal, etc. Whatever you might grab off the counter to eat
could also be in a box in the tractor, combine, truck or
Also, take plenty of liquid with you. It can be water,
juice, milk, coffee, or another beverage. And when you need
a drink, avoid drinking and driving! Too many accidents have
happened trying to retrieve a spilled soda can or trying to
get control of a “runaway” lunch!
Skipping or delaying meals is not healthy. It’s just like
sending kids to school without breakfast - they aren’t the
best learners, they are irritable, and they are often
sleepy. And they are only behind their desk rather than a
big piece of equipment.
Just as one fuels, greases and inspects equipment to keep it in good shape, we need to do the same to our bodies through regular, healthful eating. Learn to graze and do it well. Yield to fatigue, stress and hunger. Take a break and have a snack. Wishing you a safe harvest.
Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009