As we celebrate Christmas and usher in the New Year, the question posed in the above title might be a good way to start a conversation about agriculture. The full question posed recently by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack went like this, "Ask your neighbors, What do you do with the extra money you save on food purchases?'"

It is a thought-provoking question to ask our nonfarm family, friends and neighbors this holiday season as we all enjoy the bounty from the world's most prolific food-producing country. Built as a nation of farmers some four centuries ago, our society has evolved to the point that Americans are confident enough in our farming talents that they have transferred the responsibility of feeding their families to those who tend to animals and crops. And we have met the challenge . . . and more as farm exports bolster our economy.

Not only are Americans the most well-fed people in the history of mankind, we also walk out of the grocery store with more money in our pockets than citizens in any other country in the world. In fact, Americans spend a mere 6 percent of their gross income on food from grocery stores. That number pushes to slightly past 10 percent when you add in restaurant purchases.

A safe and plentiful food supply also allows our neighbors to pursue other equally noble endeavors that have brought never-before-seen modern conveniences. That, in turn, gives all of us incredible flexibility to spend our hard-earned money on those laborsaving and, sometimes, entertaining inventions.

Engaging others is an excellent way to shine light on the good work and long hours that we carry out on their behalf as farmers. And, ultimately, by any standard of measure, no one in the history of mankind has done agriculture better than the American farmer. Thank you for your great work and service to mankind. Now, share that story across the land.

This editorial appears on page 776 of the December 2014 issue of Hoard's Dairyman.