Making the connection between our food and our land

Published 8:13 am Monday, April 6, 2009

Let’s face it; farmers don’t get a fourth of the credit they deserve.

I couldn’t help but be inspired by North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Steve Troxler at the Northampton County Cooperative Extension’s Farm City Banquet. There, Troxler gave a keen, honest speech on the present and future challenges of agriculture in North Carolina.

And if you think for a moment that your food source, the American food source, is safe and snugly protected…think again.

Agriculture is unquestionably the last industry on every American’s mind. In fact, many of us don’t even think of it as an industry or commodity to this country.

We take for granted where our food comes from. I suppose grocery stores play some role in separating our thoughts from the actual process of growing and harvesting produce.

It’s hard to imagine the fruit or vegetable sitting in front of you in a basket or on a shelf as being grown from the land and, even more so, the plant or tree in which it came from being cared for by people.

But seeing past the plastic wrap, the stores florescent lights and that weird green faux grass mat under the produce is a necessity.

Even as one of those “Yankees” who has relocated to North Carolina, I can see how important agriculture is to this state.

Growing up in the heart of apple country and the outer fringe of wine country in upstate New York, I’ve always known the importance of agriculture.

At a young age I was able to make the connection between what was sitting on my plate and the fact it came from the neighbor’s produce stand down the road, which ultimately came from his field.

Most of us who grew up in the country have that connection with the land as, undoubtedly, we have worked on a farm or a field at one time or another.

Unfortunately, generations of children are in danger of making that connection of what they eat to the people who produce it. And this fact highlights the importance of having such agencies and organizations as Cooperative Extension and Farm Bureau who provide support and education to farmers and the community at-large.

If the tradition and industry of farming is not protected, this country will lose a vital trade.

Just imagine enjoying a ripe, red tomato straight from China.

It’s in these rural communities that we are, for once, at an advantage when it comes to this type of education and connection.

Let’s make sure to preserve a piece of who we are.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: or call (252) 332-7209.