Aug. 29 2011 09:56 AM

Cans, boxes, and bottles are not food sources. We have the world's largest food supply, thanks to farmers.

The author is an administrative assistant in the Hoard's Dairyman editorial department
"People really do think their food comes from the store in cans, boxes, and bottles," was what I wrote to our western editor in a recent email. I was upset about a recent Facebook posting regarding an expanding dairy, so I suggested writing a fun, but educational, piece reminding people that farmers do know what they are doing in helping to feed the world.

I did not grow up on a farm; I'm a city kid who listened to my parents talk about going to stay at a relative's farm for the summer when they were kids. And, when I was little, they did take me to watch cows being milked. So, I learned from a young age where my food came from, and I understood the importance of farming.

Fast forward to now. This city kid ended up working for a dairy magazine. I get a chance that many consumers do not: I have access to articles discussing the latest studies about cow comfort, growing crops, and farm safety. I've learned the most basic how's and why's of farming. I know that the great majority of farmers care about their animals and the land. I‘ve also had the opportunity to interact with dairy producers and can see that they love their cows like we consumers love our dogs and cats.

Unfortunately, the average consumer does not read magazines like Hoard's Dairyman. They do not get to see articles like dealing with cooling cows on a hot day. Maybe some of these articles need to start appearing in the mainstream press. However, they would need to be written in a way consumers can understand and come away with a positive feeling about how things are done on dairies and farms across the country.

I have seen numerous comments on the Internet from consumers like me, defending and trying to explain farming techniques, but those voices are few and far between. And, of course, there are other issues about farming that get people riled up, but that is a discussion for another day. In the meantime, I will enjoy my cheeseburger and chocolate milk, knowing that the animals that produced them really were raised with love - love of the land and love of the animals. I will do my best to help spread that message.