By Shelley Luedtke
From the time I was a baby my family would go camping in B.C.'s Okanagan Valley. The region boasted all sorts of fruit and vegetable stands and I quickly learned to read the signs advertising available produce. One of the first words I learned to spell was C-O-R-N. Yes, I am a fan of the cherries, peaches, nectarines and more, but my absolute favorite stop was for corn because that meant corn-on-the-cob that night at our campsite.
It's probably not a big stretch then to find out I am also a fan of popcorn. It is a snack food consumed in places all over the globe with consumers in North America accounting for approximately 42 quarts per person. I am eating my share.
About 70% of popcorn is eaten in our homes with 30% consumed at movies, stadiums and in schools. It is nutritious (at least before all the toppings and coatings are added), rather inexpensive and its appeal makes it a popular party choice as well as an effective fundraiser--although some organizations are getting push back on this and some school boards are grappling with where it falls within their healthy guidelines food policies. Nonetheless, the market share for the product continues to grow.
January 19 has been designated National Popcorn Day. Well actually it can't officially be named a 'National' Day because that would require an act of congress, however lobbyists have been successful in marketing it to the point of inclusion on some calendars and talking points for producers. Now, more than ever, there is something to be learned from the humble kernel.
Within each kernel is amazing, untapped potential just waiting for the opportunity to be realized. Yet it doesn't come easy. In fact, until the kernel is placed under intense heat and pressure it will remain but a kernel. If the temperature is not high enough it simply won't pop and become what it is expected to be. Without pressure and heat there is no popcorn. Sometimes the same can be said of us. As hard as it may be, sometimes it isn't until we endure intense heat and pressure in life that we become who we were meant to be. We need to be put through a type of refining process to see what we are truly made of and what we can become.
It won't come easy but then little that truly matters ever does. Take a look at those who revolutionized how we eat popcorn. It went from use as a breakfast food to the ultimate in home and theatre snacks thanks to innovations, inventions, and investments that took us from large steam machines to the placement of a popcorn setting on most microwaves today. All thanks to a series of people who made and lost fortunes and kept pursuing ideas despite naysayers heating up the sidelines. Or consider those that have clawed their way back after heartbreaking setbacks, or have overcome obstacles that put them under tremendous stress, then to rise with dignity and grace.
Where do we find those people? We work with them. We are their neighbours. They are the ones who quietly go about pursuing plans and dreaming dreams and demonstrating what character, perseverance and decency look like. It's why they are the ones who should be getting our attention, and why it's time to be done with some counted amongst the rich and famous who do little more than escalate anger, threaten those that disagree with them and stir their "followers" to violence. We need to shut out those who think it fits the context of entertainment or political activism to intimidate and ridicule. Or worse. Where is the example in that? Want to be inspired by someone? Turn off the noise and take a look around you. They may not be famous and powerful, but rather are admirable and commendable. Make a bowl of popcorn and invite someone into a conversation. Let them be your example. Just like the popcorn it will be fun, entertaining and really good for you. That's my outlook.
By Shelley Luedtke