“It’s been a closet industry too long,” says seminar spokesperson and bellybutton lint authority, Dr. Seymour Ensley. “People used to be embarrassed to talk about their navel lint in public. Not anymore. I’ve had bankers, school teachers, and hotel maids jump up in the middle of class and proudly display their midsection. Today’s growers are happy to share information and celebrate each other’s accomplishments on the BBLF (Bellybutton Lint Farmers) Facebook page.”
One cooperative, known as Big Wooly, operates a harvest and collection center in Wahoo, Nebraska. Lint removal specialists vacuum and sanitize Wooly members’ navels using state-of-the-art technology.
“I go in for Lint-O-Suction three times a week,” says Suzie Qualls of Omaha. “It was a little scary the first time, but the process is painless, and you’re able to go back to work in fifteen minutes.”
Big Wooly technician, Barney Atchison, explains. “Lint-O-Suction gives our clients an advantage over those who home-harvest. The lint is measured for bulk, weighed, and the data recorded in the member’s account, much like a bank deposit. Members decide when and how much to sell based upon their own personal preference or market fluctuations.
“Keeping the navel area clean stimulates crop growth and eliminates the need to wear an odor guard when harvesting,” says Atchison. “Sure, we sanitize every ball that comes through here, but some of those odors are . . . well, hard to get rid of. Those batches are shipped to government contractors for use in chemical weapons.”
Whether you’re new to bellybutton lint farming or a third-generation navel plantation owner, crop rotation is a must. The Department of Agriculture recommends wearing soft cotton fabrics during warm months and slipping into wool or mohair when temperatures drop below forty degrees Fahrenheit. The rougher fibers work to stretch the bellybutton walls and enhance capacity. In the Middle East, where a lot of camel hair is worn, growers have been known to produce spheres the size of basketballs.
One thing is for certain, farming is hard work, and not everyone is cut out for the arduous task of producing bellybutton lint. It takes patience, perseverance, and desire.
Do you have what it takes?
Stick your finger in there and measure one more time.
And hey, if bellybutton lint isn’t your thing, you can always go into toe jam farming. There’s a huge market for it in Europe right now.
Lip gloss manufacturers are buying it by the ton.