By Julie Tomascik
We have a lot of freedoms. The freedom to worship as we please. The freedom to decide what we want to wear. And the freedom to choose what foods we want to eat.
The great thing about American agriculture is however you want to eat—organic, non-GMO, traditional, conventional, grain-fed or grass-fed—there will be a farmer or rancher there to grow it.
But all too often we let others—like celebrities—influence our decisions, especially about food and farming.
When did that happen? And why?
Because we’ve steered away from agriculture over the years. Farms have grown and diversified, leaving others the freedom to pursue a career off the farm. Doctors, lawyers, actors, teachers—we can be anything we want, because we have the freedom of not having to farm.
We often take that freedom and our food for granted.
Today, less than 2 percent of the nation’s population is actively involved in farming and ranching.
The efficiencies of U.S. agriculture have given us a luxury. We don’t have to grow our own food. Someone else can. And does so safely. That’s a freedom we all should cherish.
Like former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said: “Every one of us that’s not a farmer is not a farmer because we have farmers.”
So when you have questions about food or farming, let’s talk with the experts—farmers and ranchers.
Or take a short drive to the outskirts of town. That can lead you back to your agricultural roots—no matter how far back you might have to think.
There, the paved roads turn to gravel. Fields of wheat, corn, cotton and more line the roads. Cows graze in the pasture. Farmers are planting or harvesting. Ranchers are baling hay or checking cows and the new calves born overnight.
The smell of the earth and the sound of the wind rustling the tree leaves can bring back memories.