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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Many Farmers Means Many Choices

I have started writing for Farm Indiana.  It's a monthly publication from the company that distributes our local paper.  I have read it every month since I met my husband because he and his brother are featured sometimes as grain farmers or grass-fed beef producers.  I met the editor and was surprised when I was asked to write a monthly column.  
When I sat down and really read what the paper was about, I agreed to write because I love sharing my agriculture story and educating people about the various aspects of farming and country life.
Here is what Farm Indiana is about:  "Farm Indiana" presents the news and views of Indiana's farming world, including features about local families and their farms, agriculture businesses, equipment, innovation and technological advances, educational outreach programs, real estate, farming legislation and more.  
On this first Tuesday of the month, here is my article about choice and the freedom we have when choosing our food.  I hope you enjoy my first monthly column!

I wake up every morning in an old house nestled between a corn field and a soybean field and across from another soybean field.  The guy lying next to me is a farmer and is usually snoring, a side effect from working outdoors all day with various animals, crops and dust.
Over the years, as a farmer’s daughter and now farmer’s wife, I have learned that agriculture is big, small, diverse, local and global.  All at the same time. 
Whether it’s growing the food we eat, feeding animals, driving trucks that deliver products, supplying fuel to the farm so tractors run, picking sweet corn or other vegetables for the local farmer’s market; agriculture touches everyone.
I keep a bright sign in my office that boldly proclaims “No Farms, No Food.” A former boss of mine used to come to work every week, look at that sign and say, “I eat, so I am part of agriculture.”  Yes he is!

Agriculture takes on so many forms in so many places. We can all be a part of it, even if our roles are different.
We are blessed to have choices and opportunities when choosing the foods we eat.  Think about all of your choices: frozen or fresh, local or global, organic or traditional and much more. 
I can buy bacon at the grocery store, the local meat market or farmer’s market.  Or, we can buy on a larger scale and buy a pig from a local farmer.
I choose where to buy tomatoes.  We choose the freshest tomatoes, and will go to great lengths to buy fresh tomatoes from the farmer’s market or food stands especially in the summertime. 
However, there are times we have fewer options.  In our town, there is only one type of arugula that I can find. We love this variety of lettuce so much that we’ll buy it, even though we don’t necessarily like our selection.  I’m faced with a product I don’t like, trips to town or a disappointed husband!  
I see agriculture not as a big tent, but a big barn.  Grain producers, livestock growers, vegetable farmers, organic farmers and others all contribute to the ag industry.  In the modern agricultural world, we should all support agricultural diversity.  Whether a 6th generation farm, a local farmer’s market, hog farm, a backyard garden, 4-H kids, or even just a couple of chickens, agriculture is an essential component of everyday life. 

I read Farm Indiana because they share stories from a diverse group of farmers, like me.  I hope you enjoy reading it just as much as I do and that you will enjoy my contribution every month.
Life is about choices.  You choose between a car or truck when buying a new car. You choose between the green dress or red dress when shopping.  Choices are a great thing in a consumer-driven world.  As agriculture expands in our modern world, we should all celebrate the choices we get to make.

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