As Americans sit down to the gluttonous feast known as Thanksgiving, I hope that you’ll reflect on your plate before it’s loaded with food.  Look closely and you may even see reflections of the faces behind your food.  The people engaged in the 1.5% of the U.S. population raising food deserve gratitude as we celebrate the heritage of our country. While most Americans have lost sight of our agrarian roots, I believe it’s only fitting to say thank you to each person who grows enough to feed 155 people.

Today’s farmer is somewhere between the bib overalls of Charlotte Web images and the greedy corporate moguls painted by pundits.  Today’s farmer still represents core values of work ethic, perseverance,  integrity and quality of life for their family. Today’s farmer also represents creative entrepreneurship, astute risk management skills, adaptive use of technology and stewardship of resources.

When I consider the faces behind the food plate, I think about:

  • My friend Kelly, who likes to shop, heatedly debates politics, bakes a mean Snickerdoodle and has beautiful long black hair. She also loves cows, works on her family’s dairy operation making the genetic selection choices, milking cows twice a day seven days a week (including mine) and carefully monitors herd health of a couple hundred animals. She spends hundreds of hours volunteering to help children experience agriculture. She  worries about over-regulations and animal rights activists putting her farm out of business.
  • A Twitter buddy, Darin, who is an introvert on the farm, but can run data sets with the best of the tech heads from Silicon Valley. He’s on his children’s school board,  runs half-million dollar equipment to harvest their family’s two thousand acres and wonders why pundits say he’s controlled by subsidies and corporate agribusiness.  He also gets a kick out of using technology to develop business decision models for inputs needed for every acre they farm. He worries about government requirements preventing their farm from doing what they do best.
  • My family farm, which no longer exists. It is the place of all my childhood memories and the master of my most valuable life lessons.
  • Friends that have withstood the terrorism of PETA coming onto their hog operations to shoot sensationalized videos of animal abuse. These same friends are a young family who serve their community and industry through leadership positions. They also have clear policies in place against any type of animal abuse, but had to see their name dragged through the mud. They wonder how some people can hate at such a deep level.
  • Many other farms, large and small, that I’ve visited around the world. People who produce food are not hayseeds, nor are they greedy. Nearly 98% of all farms are still family owned. These are simply people trying to operate their businesses, be solid members of the community and raise their families in the best environment in the world.

Help me celebrate the people behind your Thanksgiving plate by  raising food awareness and literacy, literally saying thank you to the people who produce your food.  If you’d like more, see some of these great posts :

I wish you a beautiful Thanksgiving. As you enjoy the bounty on your plate, please take a moment to reflect on the people who brought that to you – and the national security they provide in doing so. Imagine if we had to rely on Iraq, Mexico and China for our food. We’re truly blessed to have plates filled by some of America’s best citizens.