By Patrick Martins, author of “The Carnivore’s Manifesto: Eating Well, Eating Responsibly, and Eating Meat” and a founder of Slow Food USA
“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.” –Walt Whitman
We demand that the president of the United States, with the full support of the United States Congress, declare a National Farmers’ Day to celebrate the people responsible for our agriculture — past, present, and future.
There are only eleven federal holidays — Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veterans’ Day among them. But we need one more, to celebrate and remember the people who feed us. Even that out-of-shape groundhog popping out of its hole and predicting the weather gets more play than our farmers.
We propose that Farmers’ Day should occur on August 1, the beginning of the slowest-in-spirit month of the year. It will be a day for farmers to come to the city and for city dwellers to travel to the farm, all in an effort to connect Americans with the heroes behind our food supply.
Everyone is welcome, from the people of Kansas City and the Carolinas, Texas and Memphis, who party low and slow, to San Francisco vegans, Brooklyn foodies, and all manner of omnivores — all of us will band together to celebrate the American farmer and Earth’s bounty!
Every culture we can think of has a harvest day except America, and no, Thanksgiving, our national day of quasi- religious thanks, does not count. We have become too disconnected from the seasons, from a sense of place, from a time when foods were not available all year round.
National Farmers’ Day will be a chance to taste new food and get closer to the earth. Most importantly, it is for children, who should learn where their food comes from and should enjoy a curiosity about and respect for what they eat.
We see livestock competitions and farm dinners across the country! Trendy butter churners, urban farmers, chic butchers, and vanguard bakers, basking in the glory of American tradition! This is a time to promote a new wave of agritourism, celebrating Amish farms and amber waves of grain, orchards, ranches, and vineyards. And there shall be a federal mandate for the sun to shine!
National Farmers’ Day is a day for hayrides, horseback rides, and kids’ rides in goat carts. Egg tossing, potato sack races, bobbing for apples, milking and petting animals, barn raisings, and pie-eating contests. On Farmers’ Day animals will parade down Fifth Avenue and cities will blossom into greenmarkets. It will be a time for feasting, and for farmers to be honored at the restaurants where they sell their food.
But to rebuild our food culture and guarantee that our children will grow up embracing healthy, natural food, we’ll have to be vigilant to keep the Industrial Food Complex from co-opting the event as publicity for corporate agriculture—know that they will come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are as ravening wolves.
We are a nation raised on the backs of our farmers, and National Farmers’ Day will celebrate the traditions of our very best foods while promoting a healthy future secured by American independent farmers, the hardest-working people in the world.
As a special offer for Slow Food supporters, Heritage Foods USA is offering two free porterhouse pork chops (a $25 value) with any order of $50+ through August 31. Enter SLOWFOOD at checkout.