Recently I was at a dinner party (which is like a play date without the wipes, sippy cups and sand) and we were having the conversation about our kids and their futures. Now that DAD is back to work and doing a good amount of work with dairy farmers, the question got brought up, “Would you want your son to grow up to be a farmer?”
Six months ago, the answer would most likely have been “No, I want more for him than life on the farm.” My perception of a farmer, like a lot of people, was basic and simple. I had the image of a guy holding a pitchfork and chewing on a strand of hay. The stereotype.
Today, that answer has changed. You see, over the last few months, DAD packed up his bags, his boots, cigars and took to the road traveling from coast to coast (Seattle to Pennsylvania) meeting and talking to the men, women and children who work and live on America’s dairy farms.
What I learned might seem obvious, but it never really resonated until I had a chance to sit down and talk to these men and women: Farmers make our food. Seems simple, but it is a realization that is often overlooked. Without farmers, we would cease to exist. End of story. No blogging, no Facebook, no late afternoon lattes, nada.
In the next 30 years, we will consume more food as a planet than we have in the 8000 years before! Couple that with the fact that more people are moving away from the farm and into urban areas and yes, I am very happy that there are men and women out there doing what they do, every day, 365 days a year to make sure we have what we need, when we need it. I would be one mean ass DAD if I didn’t have my stinky cheese and milk for my coffee!
The more people I met, the more I realized that farming is not a “job,” but a career and a lifestyle that is steeped in pride, tradition and a caring for the land that goes way beyond anything I could ever dream up.
I pat myself on the back when I remember to put my root beer bottles in the recycling bin. To the dairy farmer I met, sustainability is more than a hashtag or something to talk about in line at Starbucks. To them it’s a matter of survival, for themselves and for us.
One farmer I met in the middle of nowhere in California, conserves 2.9 billion gallons of water a year! That’s enough water to give your baby an hour-long bath a day, every day, for the next 520 years (DAD does math).
Another family of farmers opened a new milk plant in Colby, Kansas, which brought 109 new jobs, which in turn brought in 130 new kids to the school, new people to the town, new shops that opened and that saved an entire county from going bankrupt!
My favorite new thing I found out about is the poop machine! Yes, it’s finally here; a machine called a digester that converts cow poop into energy by catching the gas and sending it back to the grid. One night at White Castle and I could light all of Northbrook!
If my son said he wanted to grow up to be a blogger, I might have an issue with that scenario. Unless he could hook me up with tickets to U2! Though the current scenario would be “Monster Truck Driver Ninja.”
However, if he did in fact come to me one day and tell me he wanted to work as a dairy farmer, I would be proud of the fact that he chose a path that demands an education, an understanding of business and a dedication to a craft that surrounds itself in passion and caring for the animals, the land and people they will never ever meet.
This article first appeared on ChicagoParent.com and is republished with the author's permission.