My husband and I raise hogs and a variety of crops on his fifth generation family farm. We’ve learned that in some circles, identifying yourself as a hog farmer is invitation for questions about farrowing crates, gestation stalls, and PETA videos. Frankly, sometimes people just don’t want to sit near us and risk finding out whether we worked hogs that day or not.

I recently had the opportunity to join the other members of the Colorado Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee in Denver in the shadow of the capitol for the Taste of Colorado. We decided last year to have a booth there so we could visit with festival-goers about agriculture as they gnawed on their turkey legs, gyros, and rattlesnake brats.

The booth has provided us the opportunity to discuss with mostly non-agriculturists the ins and outs of everything from GMOs to Monsanto and water rights to CRP. I was pleasantly surprised to hear how many people fondly remembered Grandpa’s farm and the hard work ethic they learned there while on summertime visits. Many people thanked us for growing their food and fiber and, since I was wearing the obligatory pig necklace, earrings and visor, shared their love of bacon with me with great enthusiasm.

One family passed by and I asked if he wanted to take a stab at our trivia question. Many people had tried and were shocked to learn that agriculture contributes $20 billion to the Colorado economy annually. This gentleman shook his head and told me, “Agriculture doesn’t matter to me. I’m a vegetarian.”

Never one to miss an opportunity like this, I walked toward him. “I understand that being a vegetarian is your personal choice but you should know that agriculture grows the cotton for that shirt you’re wearing. And the produce you enjoy? We grow that, too.”

I would love to tell you that I changed the man’s life that day and he left Denver with a renewed appreciation for agriculture. He didn’t. He walked away from me and I let him go at the risk of him telling his own stories about the lunatic hog farmer who escaped to Denver. However, I can tell you that there was another young man listening to the conversation. He had gauge earrings, a number of tattoos and was holding in his hand a half-eaten turkey leg. As the vegetarian walked away, he turned to me and said, “Dude, that guy doesn’t know what he’s missing,” and he took another bite of greasy, delicious turkey. “Yep,” I thought, “Agriculture rocks.”

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