It’s been said that the reason present-day society doesn’t understand agriculture is because the vast majority of Americans are now three to four generations removed from farming. Most people alive today don’t even have grandparents who were farmers, and that’s the reason they have no idea where food comes from, beyond the grocery store. Unfortunately, I think they are correct, and I encountered the perfect illustration of this point recently.
For the past five years, Judy and I have participated in a nationwide census on rural crime. Every year, the same very nice, sweet lady has stopped by our home to ask questions and complete a survey. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, she called and completed her interview by phone, instead of dropping by. I appreciated that, as well as her genuine concern about how my wife and I were doing.
“Has the pandemic hurt your farming operation significantly?” she asked.
I explained that I sell my calf crop once per year, and since that takes place each fall, I hadn’t had to sell any animals during these times of depressed feeder calf prices. I continued to tell her that if prices didn’t recover by the time I usually sell, then yes, I would take a significant economic hit.
“That’s such a shame,” she sympathized. “I know that I can’t even find beef on the shelves of the supermarket right now, so I know there must be a shortage of beef out there.”
Not wanting to miss my rare chance to educate a consumer, I explained that there was not a shortage of beef on the farm. The shortage in the grocery stores was because of the bottleneck in processing plants that either had been shut down or limited in capacity, because of absent workers. She was flabbergasted.
“So, you have plenty of beef at home?”
I answered that I probably had about 400 pounds of hamburger in the freezer, so we had plenty of meat.
“That’s a lot of hamburger patties,” she responded.
“Well, we use hamburger for everything — chili, spaghetti, lasagna, tacos, etc.,” I pointed out.
“Oh, I guess that’s right. Would you want to sell some of your stockpile?” she begged.
I explained that our hamburger was not packaged for resale, but I happened to have a neighbor who had just processed an entire cow and a big steer, and that his had been packaged for resale, and was probably considerably less expensive than it would be at the grocery store — if the store even had it. I had her undivided interest at this point.
Breathlessly, she asked, “Is it fresh?”
I carefully tried to explain that my neighbor’s beef was just processed a week ago, but it was all frozen now.
Dejectedly, she replied, “Well, I don’t guess I’d be interested, then, because you can’t form hamburgers out of frozen ground beef.”
A little bewildered, I stated, “No, not until you thaw it first.”
It would appear that modern society may also be two or three generations removed from cooking!
Crownover farms in Missouri.