Feeding Millions, Feeding Your Family

Food is life. As I sit here on my living room floor, surrounded by coupons and clipped recipes from Cooking Light and Taste of Home, I’m struck by how much of my life revolves around food. Am I a domesticated foodie? Is there such a thing? I plopped myself down in the center of this pile after sending my kids off to school, lunchboxes in hand, their little bodies fueled with cinnamon toast and the full-fat milk I sneak into my coffee. I sat here amid these recipe cards for things like Nan’s Potato Soup and Mellie’s Magical Meatloaf to plan my grocery list, and it just got me thinking about what it takes to feed families.

Surrounded by Coupons

Do you think about the people who are producing your food as you find ways to save money when buying it?

While I sit here typing, two large semi-trucks are making their way to the northeast from here in Wisconsin. They are loaded up with 80,000 pounds of donated potatoes for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. As I just read in the paper, one potato farmer basically put it this way: it could have been us, and anyone else would do the same. I think it’s interesting that there isn’t a potato grower somewhere over in, say, Virginia, piling up tons of taters to take to those poor souls. It’s not that there isn’t a willing one; it’s that there just isn’t one. That thought is what has me sitting here with mixed feelings of gratitude and concern. I’m feeling thankful for those super-farms that can keep up with the eating needs and wants of all of us. There are sure a lot of us. I’m just worried these farms are going to be taken down, one by one, if people stop realizing that they are family farms.

I’ve noticed more and more farmers fighting in PR wars that paint them as reckless and poor stewards of the land. I really struggle with this farfetched idea of a farming family wreaking havoc on the very environment that has sustained a family business for generations. Give the farmers some credit, you know? I guess they’re facing off with this sweet but unrealistic little fantasy peddled by well-meaning folk, that we’re going to be like Paris, with specialty markets on every street that sustain us all, food grown by the old man in the brimmed hat and overalls down the road. It’s a fantasy even I have sometimes, but when I think about it, we’re a big country and where would we all be without farming on a mass scale? I don’t think the hobby farmer down the road—although his summer corn is delicious and his pickles to die for—can answer the food demands of me, you, and all our wallets combined.

There must be heaps of other moms out there sitting there writing out their grocery lists today, and I wonder if they see in Wisconsin’s farmers what all those folks out east are about to see when the tater trucks show up—how big-time farmers feed us all. I guess I thought this would be a good time to sit down and really give thought to what it takes to feed my family. This blog is about putting good food on my family table. I’m so glad that right here in Wisconsin we have not only what it takes to do that but also what it takes to feed millions more.

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