Food is the centerpiece of many celebrations this time of year, making it a great time to share stories about where food comes from. Thanksgiving is one of my personal favorite holidays because of the spotlight it puts on food insecurity, the origins of food, and the opportunity to connect farm and food. I’ve even written about a hundred ways to do that, especially with #foodthanks (a great campaign brought to you by the AgChat Foundation).
Food is important, as is where it comes from. However, neither is as important as the people around the table. As such, my #foodthanks in 2013 goes to the humans who make this discussion matter. After all, we wouldn’t be working to celebrate Thanksgiving or any other holiday if it weren’t for the people with whom we’ve chosen to include in our lives. I’ve been given that perspective after going through life transitions this year that showed me both the best and worst in humans and wanted to share a bit of it with you in hopes that it would influence you to consider the people factor.
“If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want a decade of prosperity, grow trees. If you want a lifetime of prosperity, grow people.” This Chinese Proverb included in all of my presentations because it sums up the disconnect between the science of farming and the emotions of eating. One side of the plate spews science while the other makes decisions on feelings; this adds up to a huge human disconnect. Further to this point: a recent study showed that nearly one-third of consumers feel the food they purchase is a reflection of who they are as a person. It’s fairly common for farmers to consider what they do as the definition of who they are.
How can we bridge this gaping chasm? It really is as simple as starting with the human factor. In other words, find commonalities you can connect on as you sit down to the celebratory table. Family, faith, sports, hobbies, etc. Once you’ve established relationships, built some trust and showed you’re a human first – you’ll have a real opportunity to help make connections between farm and food, whether you choose to do so through taking about farming, science or technology. This holds true at your family table as much as it is with your “public table.”
When was the last time you gave thanks for the people in your life? I know don’t express enough gratitude so wanted to send a special #Foodthanks for the people who keep my world going ’round.
- My daughter. She inspires me to be a better person, incites more conversations than anyone I’ve ever met , cooks like a little maniac, and reminds me why agriculture matters whenever we’re in the barn dressing up heifers.
- Friends. They keep my world going ’round with their grace, strength, reminders, wisdom, laughter, faith, and peace.
- Heart caretakers. Those who care for my heart are slowly teaching me how critical self-care is in order for me to keep on helping others, one of the more difficult lessons I’ve had to learn. It’s also why I’ve stayed quiet on some “agvocate” issues this year – sometimes the human has to come before the issue.
- Neighbors. Being a single mom, running a business, managing cattle and volunteering means that I’ve had to learn to ask for – and accept help. Not the easiest task for an independent, stubborn farm girl.
- Colleagues. Whether my clients, professional speaking peers or the agrifood community – they remind me daily of how important it is to serve a cause greater than any one person.
As you raise your glass during holiday celebrations, look at the people around the table – and truly give thanks for them. Many people express gratitude all month-long, but I’d encourage you to take it a step farther, as W.T. Purkiser said. “Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.” How are you using what you’ve been given?