The USDA states that the American consumer spent an average of 9.5 percent of their disposable income on food in 2019. This can be broken down as 4.9 percent for food at home and 4.6 percent on food away from home.

Growing up in 4-H, FFA, and agriculture, I always knew that as Americans, we are blessed to spend the least percentage of our income on food as compared to other countries. In other countries it can easily be upwards 50 percent of someone’s income that is spent on food. Food. A basic necessity.

Last Friday after work, I went and got a pedicure. (Every once in a while, after a stressful week, a girl has got to treat herself!) I happened to wear shorts which displayed the large bruise on my thigh that I received from a cow last weekend along with my farm hat. Susan was the lady helping me at the salon, and she noticed my bruise and asked what happened. I told her the story and she then noticed my hat and asked about my cows. Of course, if you know me well enough, this was an open invitation for me to talk her ear off about cows. I showed her pictures and videos and told her a little about our farm.

We chatted and Susan asked if our cows were for meat or for milk. I explained to her that we have a dairy and a little about how it works to get our milk to the grocery store. At this point, another gentleman at the salon has joined the conversation. They quietly shared with me that food in their country, Vietnam, is very expensive. Milk there is three times the cost of what milk is here. Susan then told me that all food is very expensive there, while many things that we pay dearly for here are very cheap. She told me that many people live in the mountains and are very poor. They do not have indoor plumbing, and they must be careful about consuming water from certain places at certain times of the year.

While I already knew much of the world does not have access to the same standards of living that we do, it’s humbling to hear it shared from someone who has lived in this way. Due to the way Susan’s family and many others in Vietnam live, they have a high value for food. They understand the need for this basic necessity because they have likely been without on many occasions. Quality food is at a higher demand there, warranting a greater price.

Here, we just hop in our cars and run to the grocery store. Many folks today don’t even know that there is a farmer behind the produce shelf. It’s always seemed to backwards to me in the US, that the farmers who work the hardest earn the least. I believe this is because we as Americans take for granted having a safe, quality, and stable food supply.

So as I eat my meals this week, I’m thankful to learn more about the world of agriculture today from Susan, and I’m twice as thankful for the American farmer.

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