Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What's the most important job in the world?

My grandparents (left) with my gma's twin sister, celebrating their 91st bday.
My grandparents were farmers, and growing up 2 miles from them I learned a lot about agriculture.

While spending the weekend caring for my 94 year old grandfather who still lives on the family farm, I thought about this question.  My proposal is that the most important job in the world is the farmer.  After all, would the computer guru innovate if he didn't have food to eat?  Would the scientist do research if his belly wasn't full?  Would the chef or nutritionist (as Chris and I are) teach others about food if there is no food to talk about? 

According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, the bottom level includes our physiological needs of hunger and thirst.  Unless we have these fulfilled, we cannot move on to focus on other parts of our life such as safety, social needs or recognition and status.  So, without food and clean water, we are stuck, focused on getting those needs fulfilled.  Who meets this need, the farmer (and arguably, the water purification specialist.)

Unfortunately, I have been accused of being anti-agriculture (by only one person, thankfully).  I grew up on a family farm, and my parents ended up leaving farming because all the money they made went toward inputs and repair costs for machinery.  Part of my family still farms full-time.  While reading a recent issue of a Kansas Farm Bureau magazine, I was shocked to learn that Kansas wheat farmers get a whopping 10 cents per loaf for the wheat in the bread...and wheat is the first ingredient!  Where does the rest of the cost of a loaf of bread go?  I assume marketing, shipping, packaging, the store cashier's salary (and the manager, the housekeeper, etc.).  So, how do I help my local farmer?  I purchase straight from the farmer...and the extra $$ that would have been used for production goes into their pocket.

I've got four loaves of bread in the oven, but I realize not everyone wants to bake their own bread.  Therefore, it's good to know that the same holds true for other items, like fresh fruits and vegetables.  Buying local, whatever the product, puts more money into the pocket of your neighbor, the local farmer.  Time magazine says twice the amount of money stays in the local economy when we buy locally.  So buy from your neighborhood farmer, what would we do without them?

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