Dec 042009
Authors: Robyn Scherer

It’s Thanksgiving, and you and your whole family are sitting around the dinner table. You have enjoyed each other’s company and are about to dive into the grand turkey that’s been prepared. You can see the steam coming off, and the smell entices your mouth.

You carve the turkey and lift a steaming piece onto your plate. You cut off a bite and savor the taste. You then dive into the mashed potatoes, the fruit salad and the green beans.

You take a bite of your salad and take a sip of red wine. You spread butter on your bread and savor the garlic on the crust.

Although this may not match your Thanksgiving dinner exactly, you get the idea. Even those who are vegetarians will have a similar setup, just without the meat and possibly dairy products.

But I want you to think about how you got all this food. It doesn’t just appear in your fridge or in the grocery store. I’m betting most of you did not raise this food yourself.

Instead, a farmer harvested the wheat, which became your bread. A farmer milked a cow that became your butter. A farmer pulled up the potatoes, picked the fruit and beans and made the wine.

Someone else grows all of these goods that you enjoy on a daily basis. Being a farmer is one of the most self-sacrificing jobs that one can have.

Now, I know some of you are going to talk about commercial farms and how what I’m saying is false. Even in those farms someone has to work to create the foods that we all enjoy. So let’s leave the size out of this for now.

Farming and ranching is not a job that you go to at 8 a.m. and get off at 5 p.m. It is a job that is done around the clock, every day of the year. So what would it be like for you? You would not get paid vacation days. When the weather is not ideal, work still needs to be done, and you have to do it.

As a farmer or rancher, you would spend time each day checking your animals and crops. You go out in the field and check the water to make sure the crops are getting the nutrients they need.

You get up early in the morning, and come home late at night. You spend almost every daylight hour at your work, so that others can have food on their table every night.

Farming and ranching are not glamorous jobs. Sometimes you will come home covered in dirt, and your hands are calloused with the work they have performed. You can feel the sweat on your back, after hours of being out in the sun.

As a rancher, you will go out in the middle of the night to make sure the newborn calves are healthy. As a dairy farmer, you milk the cows twice a day to ensure people can have the calcium they need in their diet.

As a farmer, you must worry about weather, water, pests and sun. You have to make sure to harvest at the correct time, to retain the most nutrients you can in the food you grow.

So why do people do it? Why would anyone want to be in agriculture? People do it because they like making a difference. They are stewards of the land and keepers of our health.

This Thanksgiving, when you give thanks to everything you have in your life, remember to thank a farmer or rancher and realize how lucky you are to have the food availability in your life that you do.

Robyn Scherer is a senior animal science, agricultural business and journalism and technical communication major. Her column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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