A thank-you letter to farmers
As I push my cart down the aisles of the local store, rows of shiny cucumbers, golden oranges, glossy red tomatoes and yellow corn greet me. I stop before an endless variety of cheeses, creamy yogurts and milk products before moving on to the meats. Reaching for a lean, reasonably priced steak or a package of pork chops to tempt my family, I think of you, who help make this part of my life so easy.
We who live in cities and towns simply select our groceries and rush home to serve them. The long and difficult task of growing, processing, packaging and moving the huge variety of foods in our supermarkets is far from our minds. You have done that for us and in doing have spoiled us.
And, you've made our lives abundant. Although I often wonder what to serve for dinner, I never wonder whether or not we'll eat.
Raising a steer, for example, must require more knowledge and hard work than we town-dwellers will ever fully appreciate. And, we fail to give enough credit to the growers of alfalfa, hay and grain that feeds your cattle and produces the nutritious beef and dairy products we enjoy. And just how do you turn off your dairy cows so you can get a few days' vacation? Even I know that can't be done and that your cows must be milked every day without fail. I'm sure you must even get up and go to your job when you're not feeling well. I need only call and tell my boss I'm sick today.
In town, our small backyard has a sunny garden spot and because of you, is planted in grass ... blissfully easy, quick-to-mow grass that fits our in-town lifestyle. My skills don't include growing fruits and vegetables successfully. Even houseplants whither under my well-meaning but inexpert care. A garden, if I could snatch time from our busy days to tend it, would probably fare the same. Gratefully, I serve my family the fruits of your labor.
I realize, too, that a spring of heavy rainstorms might mean new windshield wipers for me or a leak in the basement. You, though, face either serious flooding that threatens your livelihood and your home or a long, hot summer that dries up your crops. Of course, all those warm, sunny days are just perfect for our picnics in the park or a relaxing afternoon in the swimming pool. In town, we comment on the beautiful weahter, little realizing how the lack of rain may be destroying the very things that make our lives so comfortable and easy.
Thank you for your early mornings and late nights, your battles with the weather, your day-to-day struggles so different from my own. And, I thank you for bountiful harvests of food that beckon me at the grocery story. I'm grateful as I fill my cart.
A 68-year farmer's wife,