Providing Safe, Nutritious Food

Farmers Give Us
the World on Our Plate

by Kim Kirchherr
Farmers Give Us the World on Our Plate
“I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world.”
George Washington
What’s your connection to the foods you choose to eat?
My mom grew up on a dairy farm and my dad’s grandfather delivered milk by horse-drawn wagon to people in the city. My parents always had a large garden. Growing up, I watched my mom can fruits and vegetables from both our garden and the grocery store and make things from scratch. My family passes recipes from generation to generation, too. When we get together, we enjoy the same recipes my grandmothers (and often, great grandmothers) used.
Kim Kirchherr
Kim Kirchherr is a registered dietitian and ACSM Certified Personal Trainer who lives in Chicago.

While this obviously doesn’t make me a farmer or chef, it did provide learning and a unique connection to food personally and professionally in addition to my formal training as a registered dietitian and through work experience. It also connected me to generations prior by honoring and passing along values and skills. I was raised valuing the natural resources, commitment, and care it takes to provide nutritious food.

It’s no wonder I was so pleased to begin working with Bayer to help connect you to the farmers around the world who represent the delicious foods and beverages that nourish our minds and bodies every day. In a new article series, we will be taking a look at some of the favorite flavors and foods on our menus and helping you more authentically understand it — literally where the farm meets the table — year ‘round.

Kim Kirchherr as child
Here I am outside my grandparents’ barn.
Farm
My grandparents’ farm from the air.
Picturing Where It All Begins
Most of us don’t have “growing our food” as part of our daily routine (unless you count that stray tomato plant on a balcony or that basil plant struggling on a kitchen counter, yet that won’t feed a person for even one meal). For many, food comes from the grocery store, and most shoppers haven’t met, much less talked with, a farmer. In many parts of the world, we hunger for those interactions with farmers. To do this, we may frequent farmers markets seasonally and appreciate signage in stores that honor the people who hold the incredibly important job of making sure we have access to those nutritious foods.
I had a teacher who encouraged us to visualize the people who came before us who helped shape our history. The stories came to life in a very different way when you tried to make a mental movie versus just reading words on a page. I often think of this technique when it comes to important topics that have stood the test of time. It’s especially fun to do this when thinking of stories we hear about farmers.
When we think about the changing of the seasons, harvest always comes to mind. From home décor to planning the meal where we most obviously give thanks for food, our thoughts may also turn to the farmers who make our meals possible every day of the year. For me, this is true. Regardless of where we live, food is grown where it makes the most sense to do so. I love to think about where favorites like strawberries and asparagus are grown, and how classic dishes we pass around the table became part of our traditions. That “mental movie” really comes to life when you think about the colors, sounds, and aromas of the seasons.
Farmer
A peek inside a modern harvester.

If you think about it, we all started out as farmers, in a sense, because we were all responsible for growing our own food. Agriculture made it possible for us to diversify. Once we realized that farming was a possibility, and the profession of farming became an option, some of us could focus on agriculture while others focused on other types of professions.

Food for Thought
If you’ve ever visited a farm or spoken directly to a farmer, you’ve probably heard similar stories, knowledge, and well-earned pride, regardless of what that farmer grows on their farm. The elements are similar — figure out what the weather and geography will best support, follow established regulations and policies, determine what is needed and desired by the marketplace (what will we buy?) and manage it in the most efficient way possible.

Like many other professions, farming depends upon multiple factors for success. Farmers grow/raise our food in the smartest, most efficient way possible unique to their farm that is also desired by all of us, the end recipients of their hard work and knowledge. All this while making sure that the choices that are made this year set up the next growing season and future generations for the most success possible.

Family preparing food
Involve kids in meal preparation to help them learn about food.
Today, it’s easy for so many of us to prepare a beautiful meal, filled with what we choose to eat and serve our loved ones. We simply pull out our favorite recipes, make our list, and head to the store. This year, let’s challenge ourselves to visualize all the people who make it possible for us to do this. From the farmer who planned the crops early in the year and tended to them daily to the people who prepared that food and kept it safe and nutritious for us until we got to pick it out and take it home.
When you sit down at your next meal or reflect upon what you are thankful for, ask if anyone has been to a farm or spoken to a farmer. Talk about your favorite food traditions and find out why your family chooses to enjoy the dishes that you do. Bring “farm to table” to life, because every food we choose to enjoy got its start on a farm thanks to a farmer. Here are some fun thought starters to have a conversation that honors the harvest and the hard-working families that make our meals possible:

Food for Thought

About 90 percent of the world’s 570 million farms are owned and operated by families.
Investing in agriculture can help reduce poverty and malnutrition.
1/3 of food produced today goes to waste. How can we make a plan for the food we buy to help reduce food waste and also save money in our food budget?
The number of people employed in agriculture is declining. What does this mean for our future food supply?
Where did the green bean casserole come from?
When did pumpkin pie first appear on our menus?

Regardless of what you choose to eat, it’s all possible because of farmers and their 24/7 dedication to their profession, our food supply. What new food conversation will you invite to your table this year?


Kim Kirchherr is a paid contributor to Farm Meets Table.

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