Food Comes From the Grocery Store

18 May

I grew up the granddaughter of a farmer which meant my dad spent his childhood and teen years helping his father “work the land”. My father farmed in the 1920’s and 30’s, when a lot of farm work was done by hand or with primitive-like machinery. But even though the farm work was incredibly hard and seemed never-ending, my father always had a passion for farming.

When I was a child, we’d take driving trips through the beautiful farms of  Central California. My dad would always quiz us on the crops growing in each of the fields and talk to us about the machinery we’d see the farmers using in the fields. When we’d see migratory workers in the picking crops in the fields and he’d often tell us stories about his farm days. My favorite story was how he and 6 of his 12 siblings would bring their lunch wrapped in foil and stick it in the exhaust pipe of the tractor to warm it up so it was ready to eat when they stopped for lunch. At the time, though, the stories didn’t seem very important.

At my childhood home, we always had fruits and vegetables in the garden. Some years my parents would even get a plot at the community garden and grow more fruits and vegetables. Although these gardens were much smaller than a farm, my dad taught us to feel and smell the dirt, tend the plants and pick the fruits they bore. Through these experiences, he was teaching us where food came from and how vital a farmer was to my daily life.

When I was 10, my parents sent my brother and I the small farming town where my dad grew up; Andale, KS, population 200! We spent two weeks on our cousin’s wheat farm in the middle of Kansas summer, and it seemed like torture to two beach-city kids. It was hot, and I mean H-O-T, dusty and we were in the middle of nowhere! But, in those two weeks, I learned lessons of a farmer’s life which I still carry with me today.

Farmers work hard, every day, all day, all year, in any kind of weather. They prosper when the weather is good and loose their entire yearly income when their crops are wiped out. Farm women cook A LOT of food and work very hard to live within their means. Kids can drive farm trucks if their feet reach the pedals. Farmers are patient and persistent. One piece of farming equipment can cost over $350,000, and they need many pieces of equipment. Children are expected to help on the farm. Meal time is when farm families bond. Farm families have little to begin with  and do a lot with what they have. Sitting on a truckload of freshly harvested wheat is an awesome experience. Most of importantly, farmers provide us with the sustenance we need.

When you sit down at the dinner table tonight, ask your children where their food came from. Do they think vegetables come in a can or from the ground? Visit a farm and see what it really takes to put food on your table. Grow a vegetable of your own and teach your child the virtues of patience and persistence. Learn about pride when you serve your delicious, homegrown food to your family. Finally, thank a farmer. Whether in person, prayer or just in thought, food wouldn’t come from the grocery store if it weren’t for the farmer.

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