At The Farm GateFood brings everyone to the table
On a recent winter evening, my kids announced that we had missed National Blueberry Pancake Day.
“Alexa” had told them about it. They continued to chuckle, ask questions and give commands to this internet-connected smart speaker, which responds to the name Alexa. On their cue, the robotic female voice delivers generally unimportant facts and plays exaggerated noises of passing gas. And that, of course, generates more laughter.
For nearly a pandemic year, our household motto rather has provided a lesson in life: Be happy making the best of the situation. Alexa helps with that. And had I known about this special day for fruity flapjacks on January 28, I would have made blueberry pancakes on that Thursday morning. Just for fun.
Most of my life, I passed off “National Day” events with a no-need attitude. For sake of humility, we didn’t need cause holidays. Maybe we do. Besides making the best of things, this pandemic era has taught us the desperate need to listen more and practice empathy.
That said, agriculture deserves its day, too. National Ag Day is March 23, 2021, a date to recognize that modern agriculture sustains life. The food, fiber and fuel this industry provides gives Americans the nutritional energy for the day, the shirt on their backs, the shelter overhead, and the renewable fuel to drive away from home when COVID allows.
Economically, agriculture ranks the No. 1 industry in Illinois. Environmentally, farms grow more with fewer resources, essential in a world where the population grows larger by the day. Emotionally, agriculture remains at the core of our nation’s greatness with an overwhelming majority of farms (97% in Illinois) still owned by families, often generations of them.
A century ago, nearly one-third of the American population farmed, suppressing the need for a National Ag Day. More people held a direct farm connection, largely lost now that fewer than 2% of Americans farm. Modern advancements allow people to pursue careers unrelated to farming and for each farmer to feed more than 166 people, a dramatic increase from 25 in the 1960s, according to the American Agriculture Council of America.
Since Thanksgiving, I have intended to replicate the beloved turkey dinner with classic fixings that we anticipate and enjoy only once a year. Why not savor it more. I decided that National Ag Day will dictate the occasion, a fitting way to celebrate how food brings everyone to the table.
Learn more about National Ag Day at www.agday.org.
About the author: Joanie Stiers’ family grows corn, soybeans and hay and raises beef cattle and backyard chickens in West-Central Illinois.