We live in one of the great breadbaskets of the world. We are all well aware that as soon as we leave the city limits, we’ll enter a vast ocean of farmland that is producing astonishing amounts of food. Yet, most of us rarely associate the fields all around us with the meals that we take for granted. If there’s one thing that we all have in common, it’s the appreciation of having enough to eat. That appreciation extends to all of the religions of the world. Food is our central human concern. In my own Christian tradition, most church services will contain the phrase, “give us this day our daily bread,” in the prayer that taught Jesus’ disciples how to pray. Often, we break bread together at the communion table. Bread is central to our spirituality, and we Christians aren’t alone.
Yet, I wonder sometimes if we live in such an affluent society that we forget just how dependent we are upon the people who are currently working so hard to bring in the harvest that feeds the world. The big cities in the U.S. get a lot of appreciation, but they only exist because of the food produced by the farmers that we too often take for granted. So, if you’re a farmer or come from a farm family, thank you for all that you do. Thank you for the hard work, the careful planning, the struggle with derechos, droughts, and equipment. Producing food is the foundation of any civilization, and foundations are never easy to build the right way.
If you’re like me and work a “town job” as the farmers I grew up with across the river call it, then maybe you can join me in appreciating the long hours that farmers all across the Midwest are working right now. If you know someone working in agriculture, thank them for the difference that they are making. If nothing else, the next time that you bite into a delicious meal, remember all the steps that brought it from the earth, to the market, to your table. The more we remember the essential things that we have, the more joy we’ll find all around us. After all, what better way to trust and believe that there is something greater than ourselves at work than sharing daily bread with the people we love.