#foodthanks from an Iowa Farm Wife

What about your food makes you thankful this year?

This past August, I took the opportunity to attend a conference for people interested in spreading the message of agriculture through social media (facebook, twitter, blogs, etc.) hosted by the AgChat Foundation.  If you have a moment, skip on over to their website and check it out.  The AgChat Foundation is a fairly new, grassroots movement by farmers and farm advocates to spread a positive message about food production.  I have watched this foundation grow.

It  was an honor to be able to attend the very first AgChat “Agvocacy 2.0” Conference this summer.  I learned so much about social media, how other farmers are telling their stories, and technological stuff that I am still digesting it months later.  I also met a lot of great people from all over the country who are working hard to produce and promote food for consumers.  The best thing about the conference was that I was able to glean a lot of good tips and strategies and form them in to a personal plan for consumer education through social media.

Anyway, the latest thing that the AgChat Foundation has been up to is promoting “#foodthanks” for Thanksgiving.  Even I am guilty of taking for granted all the hard work that goes in to the food I eat.  Sure, I know how much work goes in to raising a beef or hog, but I rarely think about how the lettuce in my salad or the banana I had for breakfast got to my kitchen.  Food has never been as convenient, affordable, and abundant as it is today.  So it is easy to understand why one would not even think about where their food comes from anymore.

Today, I pay tribute to the farmers who will be providing my Thanksgiving meal.  Michele Payn-Knoper, at Cause Matters, has put together a great series of stories about the different farmers who raise common Thanksgiving foods.  Read about them here. The first story is about a turkey farm family.  Once you are done, there are links to other farmer stories.  I promise you’ll be fascinated!

Another thing I am very thankful for this Thanksgiving is the technology we farmers have available to us.  This point was driven home just a little more this morning as I was pitching hay (yes, with a pitchfork) to my two horses this morning.  I couldn’t help but think about how my husband was, at that very same moment, mixing feed in a big feed wagon to feed a lot of 150 cattle.  It probably took him the same amount of time to feed 150 cattle with the technology of the tractor and feed wagon as it took me to feed 2 horses with a pitch fork.

How would you feed these guys on a cold winter day?

In 30 minutes with this big feed wagon and a nice heated tractor cab?

Or by pitching approximately 5 tons of feed with one of these, by hand, outside in the cold?

Technology doesn’t only save us farmers time.  It improves our quality of life.  Pitching hay is much more labor intensive than driving a tractor.  It is a lot dirtier too.  I can not imagine having to feed all of our livestock by hand, the way I feed my horses.  We would get nothing else done.  It would be hard to find the time to monitor animal health, care for the crops, or do book work. Let alone have any time for rest and relaxation.

It is also much more cost effective to use technology.  Cost effective for the farmer means cost effective for the consumer.  Luckily, my horses are just a hobby and don’t have to be profitable.  On the other hand, we depend on our cattle and hogs to produce a living for us.  Sure, a pitchfork is a lot cheaper than a piece of modern farm equipment, but one pitchfork could never feed as many animals as one feed wagon and tractor.  It would take a lot of pitchforks and a lot more people!  And the last time I checked, people aren’t exactly lining up to run a pitchfork for a living.

Technology has allowed us to analyze and measure our animals diets more than we analyze our own human diets.  For example, the feed wagon has a scale on it to make sure the cattle’s feed has exactly the right amount of ingredients in it and exactly the right portion for each cow.  Our livestock even have their own nutritionist who makes sure their ration is nutritionally balanced for them.  How many of us humans can say the same for ourselves?  I know I can’t say the same for the horses, they get pitched however many fork fulls of hay I feel like pitching.  It would be very hard to measure their feed intake as scientifically as the cattle’s feed is measured.

As a mom and a consumer, I am thankful that we farmers have been able to improve our own quality of life through technology and in turn pass those improvements on to our customers (you know, everyone who eats) in the form of convenient, safe, abundant, and affordable food.

So, my challenge to you, on this wonderful week of Thanksgiving, is to acknowledge the farmers who produced the food you eat. Maybe you are a twitter user (me, not so much) and want to join in and use the #foodthanks hashtag on the day before Thanksgiving.  Or tell your Facebook friends about it.  Bring it up in conversation about your blessings.  Whatever you decide to do…I would like to THANK YOU for reading!!

From one farm family to all the other food producers out there....THANKS FOR THE FOOD YOU GROW!

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5 responses to this post.

  1. My daughter and son in law are farmers here in Florida, they raise citrus, cattle, sod and land scapeing plants. It is a real gamble each year that the freeze will not reach this far south, that we will have rain the right time and pickers will be ready when the oranges are ready. The big tomato crops are being picked now here in our area, if you buy a ruskin tomato at your local store it probably came from my home town.
    I do thank you and all farmers for the hard work it takes to put food on our table and thank God for allowing us to have the abundance of food that we have.

  2. I tried to share this on FB but couldn’t because I’m at work. I’ll try to come back later at home and do it. Great post!!!

  3. Another really great and interesting blog, Liz.

  4. Liz, your post says it all and thank you and your family for all you do:) and what a beautiful family you have!

  5. […] do something like this for awhile. Well the other night I participated in an online reunion of my AgChat 2.0 class, and became inspired to “get ‘er done.”  Not bragging or anything…but I […]

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