Americans are so lucky. We have a rich history, painted with images of wise and courageous founders; sacrifices of millions of soldiers fighting for our liberties and our territory; dust-blown, idle farms and starving Americans of the 1930s; happy, comfortable families living the American dream; and countless other pleasant and painstaking recollections. We can only repaint in our minds what history looks like, but what I know to be true today is that I feel safe, well-fed, and overall content with the opportunities I have been given. I look around the world and see rioting, fighting, rebellion, and loss of life and property. I see frightened faces, troubled hearts, and people fighting for an opportunity to hope. – for an opportunity to hope for a brighter future. I think the tipping point of some rebellions occurs because people aren’t given their basic rights. The basic right I tend to focus on is the right for one to eat when hungry. So many people are not permitted this basic necessity.
When I’m hungry for even an hour, I get cranky. I start to think that I can’t think or move until I am fed. For an hour of my life, I feel this way and I am honestly probably not all that pleasant to be around. But I am also granted the opportunity to appease my appetite shortly thereafter. My snack drawer is rarely empty. Can you imagine feeling hungry all the time? You are constantly forced to wonder when you can eat again and where you will find that food. Can you imagine being charged with not only feeding your own hungry body but the bodies of vulnerable, growing youth? I try to imagine this and see images that provide snapshots of the moment-to-moment challenges this would cause. But alas, I do not know how chronic hunger feels.
Family farmers in America, like those National Farmers Union so proudly represents, are lucky. In the face of unrelenting weather that threatens some of our most fertile farmland, by and large we are still given a constant and strong food supply to our dining tables. We are given the good fortune of knowing the value of our products and toils and are able to savor the taste of food served deliciously and nutritiously from American farmers. We are blessed with satiety, the wonderful feeling of a full belly. This Independence Day, I will remain thankful for the joys and challenges that made America what it is today but also for the joys and challenges that our family farms experience to bring us a diverse and strong food supply. I’ll be visiting my farmers market in D.C. I’ll be grilling some burgers and hot dogs. And I will certainly be thinking about all the family farmers who allow me to do so!