It’s a 30-minute expressway drive home from my Thursday morning men’s group gathering. Last week I wanted a more peaceful trip, though, so I took the slower country roads instead. With the previous week’s early snowfall finally melted away, the fields were bare. I thank God for bare fields — at this time of year. It means the harvest is in.
Three hundred miles north of here, in east central Michigan where I grew up, they’re still delivering corn to the elevators. A wet spring delayed planting, and a snowy, wet autumn has delayed the harvest. Tractors and combines just couldn’t make it through the mud. Word is, the crop that’s been harvested isn’t quite as high quality as it has been other years.
I wouldn’t know that if it weren’t for my dad telling me about it over the phone. From his bedroom window, he can watch the trucks coming in, piling up the corn to be loaded on railroad cars at the grain elevator. He has always been very aware of these things, even though he worked at a chemical plant.
The home where I grew up was right across the street from a farm, so I was more in touch with agriculture then, myself. We used to go down to the train tracks during harvest time and look for sugar beets that had bounced off the trucks as they crossed the tracks. You could cut out a slice with your jackknife and enjoy a sugary treat. It might not have been the healthiest thing to do, but we were kids.
Easy to Forget Where It Comes From
Now I live on the southern edge of Dayton, where I can drive the expressways easier than the back roads most days. It means I can also go a long time without paying much attention to the farms that supply the food my family eats every day. Food just shows up on the shelves, right? Fully packaged and everything; half of it comes ready to eat.
I’m sure if you looked you could find people who think that’s actually where food comes from. By magic. Broccoli grows on the shelf at your local store, all cut to length, its stalks all tied together — just as money grows on trees.
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I wouldn’t be surprised if some people thought that way, though of course the vast majority of us know better. Still I suspect most of us rarely remember what it takes. It’s the farmers, first of all, praying for rain — but not too much of it. Then doing the hard work of managing equipment and inventory, cultivating and fertilizing the fields, planting and harvesting the crop, sending it to market and then tilling the fields under for the winter. Or it’s others managing their animals for dairy or eggs or meat, keeping their orchards, tending their vines.
Thank God for the Harvest, the Harvesters, and All the Rest
That’s the greater part of what it takes to feed us all, but we can’t forget everyone who prepares and distributes the food, all the way from field to store. That includes agricultural scientists as well. Global hunger has dropped dramatically through their work over the past 50 to 75 years.
We’re not so silly as to think the food shows up at the store by magic. Still, for those of us who live far from the fields, it’s easy to forget what it really takes. So today is a day to remember the farmers and everyone else who makes it possible for us to eat every day. Thank God for them all!
Tom Gilson (@TomGilsonAuthor) is a senior editor with The Stream, and the author of A Christian Mind: Thoughts on Life and Truth in Jesus Christ and Critical Conversations: A Christian Parent’s Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens, and the lead editor of True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism.