An open invitation

I think the activities of the last few weeks are kind of catching up to me. That’s the only way I can explain how I feel right now. I was going through some of my e-mails and other “office” type stuff when a tweet came across Tweetdeck that had a profound effect on me.

Normally, I don’t let these kind of things bother me too much, because if I did, I’d be crazy. But this was a link to the article that Time did on the high cost of cheap food. Basically it was a piece written by someone who sits behind a desk, has food at their fingertips and never again thinks about where his next meal will come from.

Here’s my challenge, or perhaps an open invitation, to these types of people:

Come, spend 24 hours fighting the wind, snow and ice of a driving blizzard, while trying to carry calves or herd cows into a barn, just so that they are safe and protected in the storm. Then sit at the computer when you get in, while wondering if you should lay down for a few minutes, or just head back out, and while at the computer, read an article that claims that you don’t do enough to provide safe food. Then you can complain about where your food comes from.

Now THAT's a snow bank!

Spend countless hours, weeks, months preparing to put your crop in. Spend every dime you’ve made in the last year, in hopes that you will make that, or maybe even a little more, in the coming year. Plant your seeds, watch it start to grow, take care of it the best you know how. And then watch as Mother Nature decides that she wants your crop…and have it wiped out in the blink of an eye. Then read about someone who thinks you should be happy enough with the fact that you’ll get paid a portion of what your crop was worth. That even though you have nothing to show for all of your hard work, it doesn’t matter, because you chose that line of work. That if you really wanted to, you could always get a job in town, never worrying about where food comes from, because the grocery store never runs out. Watch that unfold before your eyes…then you can complain about where your food comes from.

Put in a 20 hour day, working from before sun-up to past sun-down, taking care of whatever comes up during the day. Spend countless hours outside, loading bales by hand, helping a cow deliver a calf, fixing fence, changing tires. Then listen as someone on the radio claims that the crops you raise are going to cause our children to die at a younger age. That our country is fatter because of the unhealthy food that is grown. All while the same people are sitting behind a desk for eight hours, children are in school longer and in activities less, homework consumes all available time after school, as opposed to activities outside, menial labor is seen as substandard employment and fast-food is the king of family meals. Listen to that all day…then you can complain about where your food comes from.

All safe and warm inside, no matter what's going on outside.

Watch your son’s first ball game from a video tape, celebrate your wife’s birthday two months late, walk into church while the second hymn is being sung…all because a cow was calving and needed help, you had one more round to make before the storm let loose, or the crop needed to be planted, sprayed or harvested. Have your life played out around seasons, weather and all things that you have no control over. Work in those conditions…then you can complain about where your food comes from.

My family strives hard every day to make sure that our work ensures that the food we produce is the safest, healthiest and cheapest it can be for the consumer, as well as for ourselves. If we abuse our land, our animals or our crops in any way, then not only is our bottom line affected, but our whole lives are as well.

Fortunately, we live in a country where people don’t have to do any of the things I’ve wrote above, and still be able to complain…loudly and publicly. People attack an industry they don’t understand, because it’s easier to lay blame than to accept it. But the ag-community is responding. Perhaps someday soon there will be more articles in the national news thanking our farmers, ranchers and those that work hard so we can provide for all. Perhaps.

A girl can dream, right?

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8 thoughts on “An open invitation

  1. I have been affected? Been educated? ….I’m trying to think of a good word but it won’t come. But I’ve had my eyes opened by this blog post. I grew up on the east coast and spent 40+ years there. Then I spent 10 years in Albuquerque, NM. I shopped in stores for meat, grains, fruits, veggies, and didn’t really give it a second thought. Until I moved to North Dakota.

    I accept your challenge, but I don’t want to come for a day, I want to come for a week. I would prefer to come in the spring (not because of the cold, but simply because I’m afraid my car won’t get there and back in the snow).

    I would prefer that I not have to sleep in the barn, I’m 53 and my joints are becoming affected by arthritis. I’m also a freelance writer and would love this opportunity. Instead of writing what I think should be (cheaper meat, cheaper veggies, etc.), I’d like to write about your experiences, your hard work, your triumphs and tragedies, and your family. And then if I feel a need to complain, it probably won’t be because of high prices, but because my back is killing me, my joints are swollen, and I didn’t get enough sleep.

  2. Nice job. You gave some great examples that people should be able to really relate to. We just have a small “hobby” cattle farm, but lots of things that we want to do get pushed aside for the cows. Thanks for all you do in raising food to feed us.

  3. Excellent post! On any level, people don’t see and appreciate the vast amount of choice we have. I maintain the best way to eat local is do it – now in NYC or Chicago. Local produce only, nothing from more than 275 miles away, nothing processed (you know that means canned, etc) and certainly nothing that is from an ordinary store. The luxury of food has not been noted by the majority but the complaints are there. The solution is easy – take their plates.

  4. That was great reading.
    Really enjoyed your story. Can certainly relate. Here in Australia, farmers & graziers are being attacked for not caring appropriately for their land, being told by governments what we can and cannot do on our own properties. When, as you know, the land is as much part of our family, of who we are, our heritage, as are our family who we hope will continue to work it for generations to come.
    Frustrating times.
    Fiona.

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