Food Dialogues Blog

Who we are, how we work, and why we love what we do.

An Open Letter to Everyone Who Eats

Dear Everyone Who Eats:

I’m Amanda. I’m currently a practicing attorney, but I was born and raised on my family’s farm in Southwest Michigan. We currently have about 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans. When I was growing up, my brothers and I all worked on the farm. We also ran a roadside stand where we sold all the fresh produce we grew on the farm: sweet corn, tomatoes, cantaloupe, cucumbers, zucchini, peaches, blueberries, cabbage, eggplant… you get the idea.

It seems like food eaters and farmers are continually growing further and further apart. As generations away from the farm go by, we become less connected. Unfortunately, that means there is a growing distrust between us. That’s why I’m writing this: because even if you have never stepped foot on a farm, or have never met a farmer, there are a few things I want you to know.

Our goal is to provide safe, nutritious, and quality food.

Sure, farmers need to make a living to support their families, keep a roof over their heads, and pay the bills. But we also take great pride in the crops that we grow and sell to your families. No matter what operational changes are made – from our tractors to the seeds we use – our goal to provide safe, nutritious and quality food will never change.

Remember: we also eat the produce we raise! We certainly aren’t going to grow anything that would hurt our own families.

Farms are still mostly owned and operated by families.

Many businesses today may seem like faceless corporate giants that have nothing to worry about except profits. However, business on the farm is still largely run by families. According to the USDA, 97% of farms in the United States are owned and operated by families.

It is true that our businesses are becoming more sophisticated, such as incorporating into legal businesses entities or requiring agreements more formal than a handshake. At the heart of operations, though, are our families. We work together, grow together, and produce together. Usually, the goal is to leave our farms to the next generation.

We use technology on our farms to increase efficiency, protect the environment, and ensure our long term sustainability.

The increasing use of technology, from drones to GMOs, has really improved life on the farm. We have automatic milkers for dairy cows. Drones tell us precise information about our soil quality. We employ genetic engineering to make crops more adaptable to different climates. All of it is actually pretty cool!

But it’s a long way from Old MacDonald and a preconceived notion of how farms are “supposed” to look. That might make some people uncomfortable about the way we produce food. If it does, I challenge you to consider all the ways technology has made your own life easier – smartphones, navigation devices, and social media. In agriculture, we’re employing technology to be more efficient, nimble, and more equipped to protect the planet’s resources while producing food.

I encourage you to take any opportunities to visit a farm or talk to a farmer. Today, social media and the internet make all of this so much easier! Come with an open mind and all of your questions and concerns. Farmers are usually more than happy to talk about agriculture!

To read more from Amanda, visit thefarmersdaughterusa.com.

Amanda Zaluckyj is a Michigan farmer. She is part of U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance’s Digital Voices Council. All opinions expressed are the writer’s own. Funded by one or more checkoff programs.