For those of of us who are lucky enough to be exposed to agriculture, a lot of things come natural. Like understanding the process of raising livestock that is meant to go to market. There are many people in the United States (and the world, for that matter) that are so far removed from that experience that a lot of terms, stories and images can sometimes be extremely foreign and even a little uncomfortable for them.
There’s been a shift lately and it has become more pronounced each day. Many more people are starting to want to know where their food comes from. How that burger actually ends up on their plate. How that carrot gets to the super market. And this is great! I love this. I love that people want to know. Knowledge is empowering and it is your right to know about your food.
So ask the person who is best fit for those questions. How about the man who spends 11 hours of his day making sure the plants he’s been growing will continue to thrive and get to where they need to be. Or the woman who has been up since 4am because it’s that time of year and there are new baby calves that need to be taken care of. You honestly can’t get closer to the truth than these people.
Ask them what they do. Ask them why they do it. Ask them anything you want! Go ahead and ask the soybean producer why he chose that specific seed hybrid for his crop. Ask the cattle rancher why he feels comfortable raising, selling and eating his cattle that were fed additives. If you ask earnestly and with pure intention, I’m so confident that the majority of producers will be happy to answer with the same feeling.
Attacking with fire, hate and isolation won’t give you the true answers. It will give you shut doors and walls built. These producers wouldn’t be able to make a living if they were mistreating their animals or if they didn’t grow healthy crops. They benefit, if you benefit. They lose, if you lose. We’re all in this together and the sooner we stop attacking and start understanding that there are good reasons behind why agriculture is the way it is, the sooner we can all start making it even better for the future.
I feel blessed because I feel as though I have a foot in each pond on this issue. I was not raised on a farm. I did not show livestock. My childhood was spent (for the most part) in a fenced in backyard. But that doesn’t mean I was unable to learn about agriculture. And now, I have the heart of a suburban consumer and the mindset of an animal scientist. I understand where the concern and confusion come from but now I’m able to explain and demonstrate the answers. It just takes a lot of understanding from both sides of the spectrum to get to a point where we all see that we want the same thing: healthy, economical and sustainable food for us and the generations to come.
Reach out. Ask why. Love thy neighbor.