I watched the stars and stripes of the American flag ripple in the slight evening breeze on Veterans Day. I was reminded of how proud I am to be an American. Our flag is a symbol so powerful that when it is raised, hats are removed and crowded stadiums fall silent as a melody plays in its honor.
Differences among cultures, religions and heck, even sports teams have caused a ruckus in our world for centuries. The "melting pot" of cultures is what makes America so distinct. In my opinion, our differences give the United States a zest unique to the rest of the world. The sooner we start celebrating it and stop condemning it, the stronger we will be as a nation.
Criticism on current farming practices does not just come from anti-agriculture activists. It can come from within the farming community as well. I've seen countless accounts of bullying through marketing of products and social media sites from all sides of the food industry. Organic farmers bashing conventional ones and conventional producers turning their noses up at organic farmers. While this is not the case all the time, it does still happen. Regardless of the method farmers choose to implement, we are lucky to live in a country that provides safe and affordable food. We're also privileged that the consumer has a choice in the type of food they wish to devour.
Like the stripes on the flag, the agriculture community should stand beside one another as a compliment. Farmers, ranchers and producers should be cautious not to blend their bold, red stripe or their pure, white stripe into a pink flag. Farming differences in America add variety to the way the world eats. It is what makes us "America the beautiful."
I can't imagine my baby sister trying to farm. She wouldn't know a steer from a heifer. Dirt is not exactly her best color. She prefers Michael Kors over Ariat Boots. That being said, it would be comical if I had to study international business. I'd say 'hola' instead of 'adios.' I have not been educated in her specialty, and she has limited interest in mine. Sparks of enthusiasm we have as individuals could be represented by the stars on the flag. Each decoration stands for a different gift, without which, the American flag would simply fall short.
Farmers could be compared to the stitches that piece our flag together. America's farmers are hard at work everyday to feed our country three times a day. Our citizens are energized to pursue their wildest dreams. Farmers, ranchers and producers sew the seeds that shape America into the chemists who will cure cancer, the country music stars on the radio and the next major league baseball player on your little league team.
The next time you place your hand over your heart, and you're admiring the red, white and blue, remember to embrace our agriculture differences too.
Contact Michaela Leimkuehler at firstname.lastname@example.org