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Happy Belated World Cotton Day

Ginger Rowsey Bales of cotton with unharvested cotton in foreground
Cotton picking was in full swing in the Delta as World Cotton Day was celebrated.
Special holiday raises awareness.

Oct. 7 was World Cotton Day. It’s understandable if you missed it. There are so many special days to keep up with now. Oct. 7 was also Chocolate Covered Pretzel Day, LED Light Day and Frappe Day, but we’ll save those celebrations for another column.

World Cotton Day was just launched last year, co-established by the International Cotton Advisory Committee and several other global organizations. The goal of the day is to celebrate the cotton industry and the plant itself.

Cotton is not the only commodity with its own day. Peanuts are honored in the U.S. on National Peanut Day, held Sept. 13. Rice has its own month (September).

I’m sure most Mid-South cotton growers spent Oct. 7 in their fields. While I could not find a record of any public in-person celebrations held that day, social media was abuzz with #WorldCottonDay tweets and posts about this fiber that is truly woven through all of our lives. It was good to see organizations from across the globe sharing the positive impact of this crop.

I didn’t grow up around cotton and can’t even recall seeing it much until I moved to Jackson, Tenn., after college. In west Tennessee in 2005, it seemed cotton was everywhere. Of course, in the fields, but even in town you would see clumps of cotton on the roadsides where it had blown off trucks headed to the gin. The line from the old Alabama song was constantly running through my head, “Cotton on the roadside, cotton in the ditch…”

Watching large fields change from green to a brilliant white was beautiful and fascinating. Some people who grew up seeing this transformation every fall may take it for granted, but I don’t think it will ever lose its allure for me.

As I have learned more about the cotton industry and its importance to the economy, I’ve tried to support cotton through my purchases. When shopping for clothes, I always look at the label. If the item isn’t made with at least some cotton, I typically put it back. In my opinion, clothes made with cotton are more comfortable and more durable. I’m happy I can support (in a very small way) the people in my community who rely on cotton to make a living.

I think when given the opportunity, most people want to support their local economies. Most would prefer to buy a product that’s natural and sustainable, but they don’t always make the connection during the purchase decision. These special holidays that seem to fill our calendars, may seem silly, but they’re really an opportunity to raise awareness.

So, Happy Belated World Cotton Day to all of our readers who work in the cotton industry. Thanks for all you do.

My next commentary will be out Nov. 20 — National Peanut Butter Fudge Day!

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