As I do every year at this time, I am writing about something that may seem obvious, but that we often take for granted: the connection between Thanksgiving and farming. Whether you are a vegan or a meat lover, the holiday is all about food. As we sit down at the table with the ones we love and count the things that we are thankful for, take time to acknowledge and thank the people who grew that food; our farmers.
While many of us grow a large percentage of our own food, most of us don’t grow it all, or depending on our climate, can’t grow it and we turn to local farmers. And if we didn’t’ have local farmers, whether urban or rural, we would have no fresh, local food.
As I have also written about often, not only is this week, Thanksgiving Week, it is also National Farm City-Week (November 18 – November 24, 2011). It’s a week designed by the National Farm City Council to highlight the important roles that urban and rural partnerships play in food and fiber production and to enhance the links between farm families and urban residents. Since 1955, the President of the United States has annually proclaimed the week leading to and including Thanksgiving Day as National Farm-City Week.
Many people, especially those who grow their own food may think that agriculture doesn’t directly affect them. But, this is simply not true. From the time you crawl out of the cotton sheets on your bed in the morning, until you brush your teeth at night, agriculture is there. And, if we want a sustainable, local system of agriculture, then we must do all we can to help support and protect it.
First, educate yourself on farm issues, learn all about legislation and policy. A good starting point is to familiarize yourself with the Farm Bill. Also check out the issues and actions that are the focus of family farm organizations like Farm Aid and American Farmland Trust. Both of these groups work solely for the purpose of keeping family farmers on the land.
Buying from farmers not only helps them keep farming, but it helps keep the dollars in the local economy. You can also look for locally grown produce and other foods when shopping at the supermarket. Look for “Buy Local” or “Locally Grown” signs showing that the food was made in your region or at least, your state. If you don’t see them where you shop, then ask for them to buy local products, ask where your food is grown, and ask them to change their buying habits.
Use social media to thank our farmers, to spread the word and encourage others to thank them as well. Are you on Twitter? Then, send out a message with #ThankAFarmer hashtag in it. Or, share links to Farm Aid or other farm organizations on your Facebook wall and encourage others to do the same.