This past Sunday was National Grandparents Day and while I was thinking about my grandparents, I reflected on the differences in their upbringings compared to today. My grandparents, for instance, only grew up one generation removed from the family farm, instead of the nearly four generations today.
More than that though, my grandparents came of age in a more grateful time—a time when wars plagued foreign shores and the name of the game was “going without.” There weren’t dozens of labels on products at the grocery store. Food wasn’t trendy; it was a basic necessity.
Sacrificing luxuries in lieu of basic staples caused my grandparents to raise a grateful brood of over ten children (six on my mother’s side and four on my father’s). When my Grandpa Richard worked the night shift in the Marinette, Wisconsin Scott Paper plant, my mother and her siblings ate cereal or pancakes for dinner. When my grandpa was home it was Salisbury steak and mashed potatoes. Meat was a luxury. Milk and eggs were necessities.
My grandmothers bought what was on sale in the grocery store and didn’t question anything besides the price.
Today, it sometimes seems that consumers question everything, and while not all of those questions are bad, I can see how those questions don’t make you—out there every day producing our food—feel appreciated.
Sadly, I think we’ve become a more ungrateful nation than a grateful one. Many of us—myself included—don’t know what it means to go without. September is National Hunger month but not enough Americans actually think about those within our own borders who go hungry every single day.
Many are too worried about “going local,” or trying the next great restaurant. And some are too busy finding someone to remove that chicken coop mistakenly bought during a moment of trend weakness.
While I often write about how we in ag need to do better, this week, I want to take a page from my grandparents and simply say thank you.
I know that all of you farming, ranching—those of you otherwise connected to the food industry—are worried about hunger every single day, because it’s your job to do so. So thank you for stocking my grocery store shelves and meat counter with countless options so I can pick and choose what to buy based on my own personal preferences.
And thank you for worrying about how to feed those 9.1 billion people.
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