In case you’re looking for things to do in 2016, we wanted to remind you that May 20 is National Bike To Work Day, September 5 is National Cheese Pizza Day and finally, December 13 is National Violin Day. I don’t know who dreams up these days, how they are determined to carry enough merit to be proclaimed national days or who even observes them, but I found it interesting that someone has expended enough energy to get days like this recognized. You can visit the National Day Calendar and find countless other fairly useless ways to celeb rate every day of the year, as though being given the opportunity to wake up wasn’t enough.
I bet you also didn’t know that Tuesday of this week, March 15, was National Agriculture Day. If you aren’t on social media you may not have even realized the occasion. Your local FFA chapter or 4-H club may have done something in observance, but this day – which highlights an industry that impacts every human on earth – typically goes unnoticed.
How is that?
How is it that such a large part of everyone’s daily life is formally appreciated just one day out of 365, and even then it’s often overlooked?
Agriculture is so much more than plows and sows and cows. Oh friend, those days are over.
Today agriculture is about recognizing an issue (The world’s middle class will more than double in size to nearly 5 billion as the world population grows to 9 billion by 2050. The fastest part of that growth will actually occur between now and 2020. This means billions of people demanding access to better diets, including an increased consumer demand for meat, milk and eggs), discovering solutions to the problem (GPS technology in the field ensuring every available inch is utilized for planting, genetically modified seeds that can produce more pods per plant, insecticides that can protect plants from parasites and so much more) and implementing ways to meet – and continually address – the challenge. Meeting the demands of a growing population (food, fiber, fuel) has become a major undertaking with great responsibility tied to it. No longer will backyard chickens and an herb garden in the kitchen window suffice. Welcome to a complex Rubik’s cube where – if not solved – people starve. It may sound more like a video game or Hollywood blockbuster than reality, but trust us: It’s very real.
Though 97% percent of all farms are run by families, 100% of U. S. families utilize the products of family farms in some way.
- The Thursday afternoon farmer’s market
- The fall pumpkin patch
- The cotton towels after a shower
- The meat, milk and eggs in the refrigeration section of the grocery store
And those are just the easy, obvious ways. The span of agriculture touches everyone, no matter social class, age, gender or location.
Even a suburb-dwelling family of four is affected by agriculture on any given day. Imagine they load up in their SUV (leather seats, engine oil and rubber tires are all by-products of cattle) and travel (on fuel refined by CountryMark, I’m sure) downtown to watch a football game. The football really is made of pig skin, the Astroturf is a product of turf science and agronomy and the popcorn they share very well could have been grown right in their home state of Indiana. Their blue jeans, hooded sweatshirts and socks are all made of American-grown cotton.
Those who may not feel directly connected to a farm or agriculture use the products that come from it, without second thought.
If agriculture touches – literally – so many more people than just the ones who plant the wheat or feed the cattle, why isn’t it appreciated every day?
There lies a disconnect. Perhaps people would better recognize agriculture around them if they understood the stake they have in the game.
How can we work together to recognize the many ways that agriculture is woven into every day lives, even those who live so far from a cornfield? A simple way to support agriculture appreciation is to ask children daily how agriculture impacted them today. What products did they use that began on a farm? It is an eye opening, learning experience that will teach kids to appreciate what they have and how it came into their life. No kids at home? Why don’t you take on the challenge, yourself?
For the record: The national days listed above would not be possible without agriculture:
May 20, National Bike To Work Day: Stearic acid, made from animal fat by-product, helps the rubber in tires hold shape under steady surface friction.
September 5, National Cheese Pizza Day: Wheat flour in the crust, pizza sauce from tomatoes, cheese from dairy cattle, need I go on? Should we throw on some pork sausage?
December 13, National Violin Day: The strings are made of horse hair.