Today, we visited Greg's grandpa in Alliance. Since he lives about two and a half hours away, we don't get out to see him as much as we'd like. I always enjoy visiting, nonetheless, because he's a pretty smart guy. I love hearing him recount stories (some times the same ones over and over again!), and he always seems to make me think. Here's a picture of Bob with Greg at our wedding:
Somehow today we got on the topic of the public's perception of agriculture. Bob is a dairy farmer and has been all of his life (except when he served the U.S. in the Korean War.) Leading up to this conversation, Bob was sharing how growing up in the 30s, there wasn't much extravagance around. People had what they needed, and that was about it. As we talked about today and about how people don't understand agriculture, he said something that has stuck with me: "The problem is, people today have never been hungry long enough to think about where their food really comes from."
It took me a second to really grasp this concept, but after I did, I realized how true it really was. In the United States, we have the cheapest and most abundant food supply of any developed nation. For the most part, the bulk of our country never has to worry about where our next meal is coming from. (Don't get me wrong, I know that hunger is an issue in the U.S. and that there is a chunk of our population that doesn't have access to a safe and reliable food supply.) It is no wonder that people don't appreciate agriculture; as long as the food is available at the grocery store, they never have to think about the farmer that sacrificed to grow the product.
Contrast that thought with people in developing nations. Here is a family our group met when I studied abroad in Uganda.You better believe that these people understand agriculture. They may not be sure where their next meal is coming from, but they know that in order to eat, someone must work hard in the fields, probably themselves. They are connected to agriculture on a personal basis.
We have so many blessings living in the United States, but how much do we take for granted? Just like Bob said, people don't appreciate agriculture, because they've never been hungry. We could continue and say that people don't appreciate people working in car factories, because they've never been without a vehicle. Maybe they don't appreciate warm clothes, because they've never had to spend a night on the street. The generalizations could continue. At the end of the day, though, I know I'm counted in the "theys." How much do I take for granted, because I've never had to do without? And more pointedly, how do I express appreciation for what I've been blessed with?