Farmers are often focused on market prices and staying profitable. Getting a good price for your product is the only way to stay afloat in the agriculture business. Decisions are made concerning the best time to plant, the best time to wean, the best practices to stay viable. We are farmers. We are producers. It is not just our livelihood, but our life as well. It’s easy to forget the impact we have on the rest of the world.
A few months ago, my wife and I ventured from the farm for a little sight-seeing in Philadelphia. There was a lot to see! Mainly, crowds of people all rushing to their incredibly diverse jobs in an incredibly hectic city. On the same block as our hotel, we found the Reading Terminal Market. The huge market was filled with vendors of locally grown foods, bakeries, and just about anything tasty you could wish for. Here, the rushing people slowed, if only for a moment, to nourish themselves. This became a twice a day stop for us. While sitting at the market (watching those city folks eating) I could feel a real connection between producer and consumer.
Our vacation ended, as they often do, with an early flight home. What I saw as we left the downtown hotel at 4 in the morning justified my feelings. We walked down the sidewalk past trucks that lined the block. Workers were busy unloading the trucks and moving their wares into the market. Milk, seafood, cheese, vegetables, beef, nuts, pork, fruit, poultry, honey, flowers, breads, and anything one could possibly need were being readied for the morning rush.
By the time the sun came up, we were somewhere over Illinois. We landed in Kansas City and started the hour and a half drive back to the farm. I pointed at combines making dust clouds in the fields. Cows were a friendly reminder that we were back in our home territory. Tired and frazzled from our trip, something ran through my mind. While those folks in Philly are eating croissants, someone in Georgia is having cornbread and beans. In Arizona, a man is eating chicken with tortillas while a woman in Iowa is sopping up sausage gravy with a biscuit.
A long chain of producers, processors, and marketers feed this world of ours. I am thankful for generations of labor that make it possible. I am thankful to be the first link in this chain. I am thankful to be a farmer.
Paul Wald raises beef cattle and row crops on a family operation in north central Missouri. Paul describes his hobbies as chasing cows or running from them. It varies on what the cattle decide that day. He also hosts a web radio show about agriculture and country living.