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Diving Deep Into the Beet Beat

Plus more local ceasefire support, erecting a $4 million crucifix, and toodles to Kmart in today's Flyover news roundup.

Stanze via Flickr|

Now, these are technically sugar beets from France. But be honest: You couldn’t tell the difference.

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

Beetsville, USA!

When it comes to U.S. sugar production, you can't beet the Red River Valley—the region running the length of the border between Minnesota and North Dakota is where 44% of the nation's sugar beets are grown. That's more sugar beets than any other area in the country, and another 13% are grown in southern Minnesota. How do we know that? Because the Minnesota Reformer's Madison McVan published this deep beet dive today, for which she spent a week shadowing farm workers and farmers in the valley. Interestingly, sugar beets are among the most lucrative crops you can grow; sugar beet farmers take home roughly 54% more per acre than other farmers. That's partially because, per McVan's report, there's no corporate middleman slicing into the sweet profits. Instead, the farmers cooperatively own the industry, which they're able to do in large part thanks to a federal program that limits the annual sugar supply, keeping prices up.

MN Teachers, Artists Demand Ceasefire

We're well past the tip-toeing equivocation that colored the beginning of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. An estimated 11,100 Palestinians have died so far, most of them women and children, a figure that amounts to one out of every 200 Gazans. The official Israeli death toll stands at around 1,200. It's a full-blown humanitarian crisis, and you're welcome to use much, much stronger words for what's happening if you'd like. Summoning courage that evades most U.S. politicians, this week Minnesota teachers and artists spoke out against the bloodshed. The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59 called for an immediate ceasefire Tuesday, writes Workday Magazine editor Sarah Lazare for The Nation, joining other education unions across the country. “The news that is coming out is horrific,” Twin Cities high school teacher Marcia Howard tells Lazare. “We mourn the innocent lives in Israel and occupied Palestine, and a cease-fire is the only reasonable thing to be asking for right now.” On Thursday, a group of almost 2,000 Minnesota artists calling itself Minnesota Artists 4 Ceasefire did exactly what its name suggests: MA4C called on President Joe Biden and Minnesota's entire congressional delegation to push for a ceasefire. "We must not look away as over 12,000 bombs have been dropped on Gaza, hospitals have been turned into cemeteries, and thousands of innocent children have been killed," the group writes in its open letter. "We refuse to tell future generations we stood silent and did nothing."

The New Not-Rugged Cross on I-35

What do you get for the town that has everything? How about a 78,000 pound, 70-foot-high cross that you can see from the highway? The erection (heh heh heh) of the cross was completed on Tuesday morning on the grounds of Christian Family Church in Owatonna, Minnesota, and judging from this exhaustive story it’s the biggest news to hit Owl City for a while. (“Pastor Tim Peterson whooped with glee as a crane lowered the top segment onto the base of the cross,” we’re told.) You “blood of Christ” fans out there will be impressed by the cross’s “reddish patina.” And the CFC isn’t stopping there. The cross is just part of a big project at the church that will also include a prayer garden and a 40-foot-high bronze cross and will cost about $4 million, gathered from donations. Trying not to be too snarky about all this or to make any cracks about what Jesus would or wouldn’t do, but this is the kind of stunt that makes the godless among us wonder what all you believers out there are thinking sometimes.

RIP, Lake Street Kmart

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