By today’s standards, we lived in material want, but still had plenty.
We raised our own animals; grew all our vegetables and fruit in oversized gardens; and helped feed others with our surplus.
For awhile, we had many chickens, and I can still recall gathering warm eggs with my grandparents, early in the morning.
We were blessed with neighbors who were all farmers, or farm workers. No one went without food — and in tough times, everyone shared. Every special occasion, every Sunday dinner, demanded a homemade feast with the bounty from our land.
Because this land was painstakingly cleared by my grandfather — only the second owner, after a pioneer family from Scotland — I’ve always had a kinship with growers, farmers and producers. Wherever I’ve lived, it’s always been important for me to learn about the origins of the food I was fortunate to eat.
My father refused to give hormones or antibiotics to our animals, despite pressure from farm suppliers, and, I suppose, other producers. He raised beef cattle and grew grain during a perilous time for family farms. Injecting animals with growth-inducing drugs might have helped him prosper.
I am thinking today of my parents’ and grandparents’ struggles to farm when the industrialization of agriculture was creeping across the continent. I am thinking of all their hard labor in keeping land arable, tending it, and producing enough food for many.
These Sunday morning musings were spurred by the current Farm Bill, passed by the House Agriculture Committee, and to be considered by the Senate this week.
It slices two million Americans off SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — commonly known as food stamps — that is helping feed an estimated 48 million people in this country after a painful recession.
One in seven Americans reply on SNAP, which has swollen to an annual $80 billion program.
Isn’t it astonishing that a record number of working families and elders rely on food stamps? Traveling through cities of unparalleled wealth in this country, it’s astonishing to realize that record numbers of Americans are living in poverty.
I share the dismay of Washington politicians unwilling to pay for more food stamps when the national deficit is so large already. Yet I also share the collective shame of America for allowing so many children and elders, especially, to go hungry in this, the richest nation on earth.
A veteran proudly informed me this week that the United States is the only superpower on the planet.
Why then, can’t we feed everyone?
I’m sending a small contribution today to no one hungry, a food-sharing, non-profit begun by my sister because the need is so great in her community near Atlanta, Georgia. It’s a faith-based venture, and to me, shows how one woman lives her faith, and her farm heritage, every day.