Thank a Farmer

Food, sustaining life for almost 4 billion years and counting. Now that’s reliability that you definitely cannot mass produce, genetically modify, or wrap in vibrant colored plastic. But somehow, beginning a mere hundred years or so ago, “modern” society forgot that food is what turned those little primitive protozoa into talking, walking, complex thinkers, that food caused wars, plagued societies, and allowed others to thrive.

And now in the most technologically advanced era ever, food has become a secondary thought. Food is taken for granted. It magically appears in neat little packages on the shelves of stores that are open at almost every time of the day; for many Americans, and others in “Americanized” countries, one can find a ready to eat hamburger and fries within a 20 mile radius. How this food reaches a store shelf or a drive thru is an afterthought. The fact that your French Fries are made from Potatoes grown in Idaho, which were fried in corn and soybean oil from Iowa, is completely irrelevant, especially with their bargain price of $1.89.

And here is where the greatest problem lies: price. Consumers who base their purchases on the price tag with the fewest digits completely disregard the food producing system altogether. Let’s take the average American farmer, who feeds approximately 155 demanding mouths, and is expected to at every hour of every day—thanks to 24 hour supermarkets, online food shopping, and always open drive thrus. This responsibility seems like it should be rewarded with a generous income, considering that without the farmer, the almost entirely dependent civilian population would be quite—to put it lightly—hungry. A farmer’s duties are just as or more important than that of a nurse, or a fireman, because isn’t the farmer responsible for the nurse, the fireman, and ultimately the continued existence of “modern society”? Is it fair that a farmer works a 10 or more hour day every day of the year, but does not earn a steady income like the 155 civilians which he supports, because of the American desire for the cheapest meal possible?

No, it’s not fair but society can not function without someone being thrown under the bus, and in “modern” society’s case, it’s the dedicated individuals who will fill your dinner plate tonight.

With the structure of society today, there is no way to get rid of the highly industrialized, specialized way in which our food supply is produced. It would be incredibly impractical to somehow find a way to revive the stereotypical farm, which produces just enough food to sustain a single family. Not to mention the increasingly urbanized world that we are becoming, that is reliant on efficient, space-saving mass production.

I am no different than the other 300 billion Americans who are dependent on this highly commercialized, industrialized way of producing food. I will go home tonight to a meal made possible by a multitude of farmers who do not reside even remotely closed to Sonoma County. However, the rural county in which we live has provided me with the opportunity to observe and participate in the agricultural industry; through the 4-H program, I have raised a dairy calf and then sold her back to a dairy farm as a cow, where she produces milk that ends up in the refrigerated section at Safeway. I have befriended the face behind the food, and have found that a farmer becomes a farmer by choice, because he is extremely dedicated to preserving the vital industry.

The farmer has done his job. It is now up to the consumer to bridge the gap between the farm, the food, and the shelf. We must recognize the profession, which has sustained great civilizations for thousands of years, as a fundamental backing of human progress.

I am not asking for radical change, but rather a greater appreciation and awareness of the many employed in the agricultural industry. Thank a farmer; recognize his hard work in putting dinner on the table today, tomorrow, and for the future generations of society