Thanksgiving has always been an incredible part of my life. I’ve celebrated the holidays many years with vast number of family and other years I’ve been in faraway places like India or Italy where friends have attempted to make me feel at home, particularly for that meal.
This year, we will likely have 60-65 people together and most of us will spend the whole weekend together! It’s easy to give thanks for such a gathering of family and friends. With a crowd that big, figuring out who brings what for the big meal, is a challenge — lots of special family favorites, also interesting how many ways you can fix dressing/stuffing and turkey (I prefer dressing and Cajun fried!). We’ve been busy for months organizing — who stays where, what sort of games will keep folks busy pre-meal, etc.
As the discussion in #AgChat progressed last night, I thought about the things we usually give thanks for and some things we may have missed. Although the scale of my Thanksgiving may be a bit different from some, at the end of the day, we give thanks for the same things many others do:
- Food prepared for our nourishment.
- The health of our loved ones.
- Safe travels for those who have been on the road & will be returning.
- Major events in our family — graduations, new jobs, weddings, births, etc.
One thing that makes my family fit soundly in the U.S. mainstream is that very few of the 60-65 people there grew up with any connection to agriculture. However, unlike many tables in America, we have found agriculture for the first time in generations and have multiple agricultural perspectives represented at our tables.
As I thought about this, I realized that many times people have suggested it would be interesting to be a “fly on the wall” at my family Thanksgivings. It’s not the bedlam of a large crowd but it’s agriculture that makes people think hmmmm… I’ve worked in agriculture for decades and currently work for Monsanto. My brother & sister-in-law are both professionals who bought a farm several years ago and grow the vast majority of the food they & close friends eat. So while I work directly with biotech products most days, it intrigues people to know my brother has chosen to grow food organically. I simply believe our connections to agriculture are both awesome.
The agriculture I engage in centers around producing food, feed and fiber for the people nearby and around the world. Most farmers have a family connection to agriculture and commitments to hands-on learning as well as more formal education. A farmer I work with may grow three or four crops and they may or may not have livestock. There is a very strong environmental connection as they look to leave the land better than they found it. And they are looking at population growth and the challenges of food production, distribution, etc and are working to strengthen our communities. I see individual faces of farmers I’ve talked to as I even type the words.
With my brother, he comes together with family & friends to produce their food. They have discovered the best ways to grow crops, care for livestock and a lot of what he’s learned has been through talking to others, reading or simply trial and error. He has an incredible environmental mindset and he’s looked at how he lives, what he takes from the earth and puts back in. He’s not talking his talk, he’s living it day in and day out. He’s feeding his family and several others near him — they have a strength of community that is rare.
This year, I intend to raise my thanks for the farmers who helped produce the food we have. Those thanks will include my brother and a clear picture of his barn and fields, as well as farmers around the U.S. who I’ve had the chance to meet. I’ll thank farmers for:
- Producing the food, feed & fiber that sustains us including the wheat used to make the pancakes & the strawberries that top them
- Conserving our resources both the drip irrigation system on a big field or a single solar panel
- Finding the approach that works best on their farm
If you want to read more about how people are giving thanks for farmers, look at the #thankafarmer hashtag on twitter or check out some of the following:
- My blog about for the National Cattleman’s Beef Association — Thanking a Farmer for Introducing Me to the World of Beef Cattle – Beef from Pasture to Plate http://bit.ly/5DpkxC
- Love Thanksgiving? Thank a Farmer – Busy Women’s Guide to Eating Better http://bit.ly/8lvACg
- Giving Thanks – Cut to the Paste http://bit.ly/8w1Bvz
- Be Thankful for a Lot of Things, and Don’t Forget the Farmers – Texas Agriculture Talks http://bit.ly/7vcClc
- #ThankaFarmer – Ray-Lin Dairy http://bit.ly/5OgYgC
- America’s Family Farmers – Food for thought from Monsanto http://bit.ly/8HXNux
- Farmers make foodie aspirations possible – Farm Bureau Blog http://bit.ly/4svklJ
- Don’t Be a Turkey This Thanksgiving, Thank a Farmer – Beyond the Rows http://bit.ly/6Y8WgQ
- Food a Plenty, Thanks to family farmers – NCGA http://bit.ly/2plNrK
- Giving Thanks – Marketing Newbie http://bit.ly/8nhJCs
- A Farmer in Northwest Iowa – Faith, Fiction, Friends http://bit.ly/5EdzJl
- Fun Facts about the Food We Eat – Ag Day http://bit.ly/70rAgI
- Thank a Farmer – Beef From Pasture to Plate http://bit.ly/8oEQni
- #thank a Farmer – JB Chicago http://bit.ly/5rfMzp
- Thank a Farmer – Advocates for Ag http://bit.ly/7MHmCo
- It’s Thank a Farmer Week – Tyson Foods Hunger Aid http://bit.ly/8nF2xg
- Tweet Thanks to a Farmer (USDA-NAL) http://weblogs.nal.usda.gov/infofarm/archives/rural_life/index.shtml#006635
If you want a place to post your thanks, feel free to post here or on any of the blogs above. If you aren’t on twitter, I can tweet it out for you! We’re hoping a lot of people tweeting, Facebooking, etc starting Wednesday morning and lasting through the holiday.