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Check your food and garment labels

It’s important to support your ag community by checking the labels of your food and garments.

Brent Murphree

January 25, 2024

2 Min Read
Scott Cotton Harvest
Wearing polyester in cotton country demonstrates a lack of awareness.Brent Murphree

I returned a Christmas gift recently because it wasn’t cotton. It was a tad bit small, so that was the excuse I gave for the return. I didn’t want to seem ungrateful for the gift.

But, given my life’s work and the fuss I’ve made over receiving any clothing article that wasn’t cotton in the past, I thought if they don’t know by now, they’ll never get it. But it also occurs to me that maybe they were just trying to get one by on me. It doesn’t work.

Robert Royal, Midnight, Miss., farmer and ginner, recently posted a commentary on his Facebook page about having textophobia – the fear of certain fabrics. In his case, as in mine, the fear of polyester.

For me, it’s not as much a fear as it is a loathing.

You cannot win an argument with me about how comfortable polyester is in high humidity. I’ll argue that while cotton is hydrophilic – moisture absorbing – it still feels better than a sticky “technology” polyester that is supposed to wick moisture away from the body. It doesn’t breathe and once it starts smelling, nothing will wash that smell out, short of gasoline and a match.

I was once on a tour of Cotton Incorporated’s headquarters and someone with an affiliated industry – not a farmer – was wearing a polyester sweater. Someone apparently had a talk with him because he was soon sporting something that was made of cotton.

One of my biggest failures was when I was chairing a non-profit organization in my community. Two of my good friends, women I had grown up with and were wives of cotton farmers, were on a committee to design a polo shirt for the organization members. They came back with a recommendation to use a polyester material. There were no words for my disappointment.

Several years ago, I received a call from Joe Huerkamp, a farmer in Noxubee County, Miss. He was roaring mad about his beloved university using sports jerseys made of polyester when their alumni were some of the best cotton growers in the world. He had sent a letter to the athletics department and had spoken to representatives of the cotton industry.

Unfortunately, the exercise was somewhat futile because of who and how the uniform sponsorships were funded. But many people at the university were educated on just how important the cotton industry is to the Midsouth, as well as the entire Cotton Belt.

That message needs to go out for all U.S. grown products. Commodity groups focus a lot of energy on promoting American grown rice, soybeans, corn, beef, pork and many others. Farmers support that promotion with their own money from the crops they produce.

We need to be more supportive of our ag community and support positive promotion of our ag products – what we wear and what we eat. It is important that we pay attention to those things.

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