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If you want to make it in this world, you need to have superpowers. Just scan the bestselling movies; most have characters with supernatural powers.  The most popular television shows and cartoons have themes that involve superpowers.  Once only found in comics, the superhero with superpowers is everywhere. In August, thousands of adults from across the country will come to Indianapolis for Gen Con, a gaming convention that will feature many characters with superpowers. While all this is fantasy, there are real people with superpowers who use amazing technology to save the world.

Yet, sadly, most people don’t realize that farmers are superheroes with amazing powers. This is due, in part, to the fact that farmers use their superpowers in fields and feedlots far from large urban areas and most people can’t see their work.  They also don’t wear bright colored tights and masks. Another issue is that the amazing task of producing food does not involve explosions, fireballs, and mushroom clouds. Yet, despite these drawbacks, farmers perform many of the same feats as the most popular superheroes.

A farmer puts a seed in the ground and, with water, solar energy, and some special super-powered fertilizer, produces edible food. A dairy farmer uses robots to milk his cows, science to pasteurize the milk and keep it safe, and chemistry to transform the milk into things like cheese, ice cream, and even an edible living organism called yogurt. The Transformers can’t do that.

Corn and soybean farmers use robots, satellites in space, and drones to detect weeds, diseases, and evil crop-munching insects in their fields, all from their smartphones. That is definitely more impressive than all those Pokemon Go players.   Horrific-looking supermonsters are good at destroying life and wrecking cities.  Farmers, on the other hand, oversee the creation of life and make improvements to our environment and eco-system.

A recent Reuters survey indicated that more than half the drivers questioned said they are unfamiliar with ethanol. Many consumers are unaware that all gasoline contains a ten percent blend of ethanol, another superpower that farmers have: producing fuel at the same time they are producing food.

Most superheroes are motivated by a noble desire to save the world and to fight crime and evil. Likewise, most farmers are motivated by a desire to feed the world. While saving the planet from imaginary aliens or mutants makes for great entertainment, the task of feeding the world is real and vital for our continued existence. Perhaps if farmers started wearing colored tights and masks and shooting off fireworks in their fields, people might pay more attention to the superpowers at work in American agriculture.

By Gary Truitt