While preparing to check my bags at John F. Kennedy Airport before my flight to South Africa I met a woman who was traveling with members of her church on a tour group.

We talked in line as we waited for the line to move forward in a serpentine of rails similar to an alleyway you'd move cattle through. As we talked about our reasons for traveling she became interested in my trip and what an agriculture journalist does.

I shared with her my experiences being part of my family's custom grazing and cow-calf operation.

Upon hearing that I grew up on a ranch she let me know about her past growing up in the Washington DC area and how fortunate she was to have a grandparent with a farm.

During her summers as a youth she'd go to the Carolinas and visit her grandma who grew corn, while raising some hogs, cattle and chickens. She'd help grandma with the garden and feeding the livestock. Sometimes grandma would butcher a chicken for dinner.

Those experiences on grandma's farm gave her a better understanding of where her food came from. Life on a farm is an experience fewer American's share like me and my fellow international traveler.

She expressed to me that she thinks those types on-farm interactions should be experienced by more consumers.

As a society we may have lost the appreciation of what it takes to put safe and nutritious food on tables across our country and world. The realization clothes we wear likely came from a cotton farmer or the gas in our cars is fueled by farmers raising grain for ethanol isn't on most people's minds.

If you are a producer don't be afraid to share what you do on the farm or ranch via social media. Maybe host a farm tour for people from the city to see agriculture up close and personal.

For consumers, there are quite a few resources to find on the Internet and agriculture producers to follow on social media channels. Follow along with popular hashtags like:

  • #farm365
  • #ranchlife
  •  #agchat

Producers and consumers, when you’re at the airport (or anywhere for that matter) don't be afraid to have a conversation with the person in line with you or in the seat beside you on the plane. You both might have something in common and you could learn a thing or two.


Note: The author, Wyatt Bechtel, is attending the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists world congress in South Africa. While at the congress he is learning about agriculture in South Africa while networking with journalists from across the globe.