It’s been said that the reason present-day society doesn’t understand agriculture is because the vast majority of Americans are now three to four generations removed from farming. 

Most people, alive today, don’t even have grandparents who were farmers, and that’s the reason they have no idea where food comes from, other than the grocery store. Unfortunately, I think they are correct and I encountered the perfect illustration of this point, last week.

For the past five years, Judy and I have been the lucky recipients of being selected to be part of a nationwide census on rural crime. Every year, the same very nice, sweet lady has stopped by our home to ask questions and complete a survey. Because of the pandemic, she called, last week, and completed her interview by phone, instead of dropping by. I appreciated that, as well as her genuine concern on how my wife and I were doing. 

“Has the pandemic hurt your farming operation significantly?” she asked.

I explained that I sell my calf crop once per year, and since that takes place each fall, I hadn’t had to sell any, during these times of depressed feeder calf prices. I continued to tell her that if prices didn’t recover by the time I usually sell, then yes, I would take a significant economic hit.

“That’s such a shame,” she sympathized. “I know that I can’t even find beef on the shelves of the supermarket right now, so I know there must be a shortage of beef out there.”

Not wanting to miss my rare chance to educate a consumer, I explained that there was NOT a shortage of beef on the farm, but rather a shortage in the grocery store, because of the bottleneck in processing plants, that had been either shut down, or limited in their capacity, because of absent workers. She was flabbergasted.

“So you have plenty of beef at home?”

I answered that I probably had about 400 pounds of hamburger in the freezer, so we had plenty of meat.

“That’s a lot of hamburger patties,” she responded.

“Well, we use hamburger for everything – chili, spaghetti, lasagna, tacos, etc.”

“Oh, I guess that’s right. Would you want to sell some of your stockpile?” she begged.

I explained that our hamburger was not packaged for resale, but I happened to have a neighbor who had just processed an entire cow and big steer, and that his had been packaged for resale, and was probably considerably less expensive than it would be at the grocery store – if they had it. I had her undivided interest at this point.

Breathlessly, she asked, “Is it fresh?”

I carefully tried to explain that my neighbor’s beef was just processed a week ago, but it was all frozen, now.

Dejectedly, she replied, “Well, I don’t guess I’d be interested, then, because you can’t form hamburgers out of frozen ground beef.”

A little bewildered, I stated, “No, not until you thaw it, first.”

It would appear that modern society may also be two or three generations removed from COOKING.

Jerry Crownover farms in Lawrence County. He is a former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University, and is an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry, go to and click on ‘Contact Us.’


  1. I just want to say me and my 72yr old father-n-law ,who’s been a farmer his whole life. I married into it.. Absolutely love reading your articles whenever there published in our local newspaper.. The Ozark county times. When ever the paper comes first thing my father n law does is open it to see if your in there. To which he’ll announce weather “our guy” (being you) is on there or not.. thank you for all your accurate depictions of farming. ,Cotter Family


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