I Am Thankful
By Anthony Barton General Manager at Aeros, a Cultura Company
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines thankful as:
1: an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population: a pandemic outbreak of a disease
I never thought I would consider writing something that combined these two definitions, but here we are!
When my girls were little, we would go around the table during Thanksgiving dinner and I’d ask each to say something that they were thankful for. The first year I did this, tears came to my eyes when I heard “I am thankful for you, Daddy”. It may not be Thanksgiving yet, but I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about what I am thankful for.
Family, friends, coworkers, and customers are at the top of my list, of course. However, with shelter-in-place orders, lock-down, and entertainment venues closed, I have had much more time to think.
I understand that there are differing opinions on the pandemic in regard to if we should have locked down and how to reopen the economy. However, the course of events did happen, and during this time I was so thankful of our health care workers who could not shelter in place but were on the front lines fighting for the lives of our loved ones. I heard a fire truck and an ambulance and had to give thanks for them as well. And what about the workers at my local market? I had to eat and they might have preferred to shelter at home, but they were in the stores stocking the shelves.
Soon thereafter, meat and processing plants were officially deemed as essential. Have you ever before thought of these workers and been thankful for them getting food to your table? I can’t imagine years ago going around the Thanksgiving table and someone saying, “Daddy, I’m thankful for the meat plant workers”. It is amazing how a pandemic can make us think differently.
Most recently, I am more thankful for our nation’s teachers. All three of my girls are elementary school teachers and have returned to the classroom. While trying to teach, they are keeping the desks six feet apart and constantly sanitizing everything. They cannot socialize face-to-face with other teachers, they cannot go to the teachers’ lounge, and they eat lunch in their classrooms with the children. They are struggling teaching kindergarteners and elementary students to keep their masks on. Today, I am so much more thankful for our teachers.
Previously, I mentioned the appreciation for the employees at my local market. However, as we all know, food does not really come from the store. It comes from our nation’s farmers, agriculture, and agri-food industries. As a native Arkansan, I have always had an appreciation for agriculture. Arkansas is the largest rice producing state in the U.S. and is also one of the top broiler producers. I have many family and friends who farm every day. I just didn’t appreciate them as much as I should have. The empty store shelves at the beginning of the pandemic really made me think about their hard work and the food on my table.
I am not alone in my thinking and thankfulness. Roughly 90% of Americans say the COVID-19 pandemic has been “a good time to reflect on what’s important to them,” according to a recent survey conducted by National Research Group.
By now, everyone has a list of things they once took for granted but now miss dearly or things they’ve discovered and fallen in love with during this period of staying at home and maintaining safe distances from those outside of their quarantine circle.
These are the people, places, and things for which we have a newfound or renewed appreciation. We’re sorry we didn’t appreciate them before the pandemic and we swear to ourselves we won’t make that mistake again when things return to normal-ish.
A list would include:
- A newfound respect for those often overlooked
- Our early childhood teachers
- Research and the need for more research funding
- Cooking and family dinners
- Birds, gardening and fresh air
I am thankful for so much more things these days and feel truly blessed by my career in the agri-food industry. It is full of hard-working people dedicated to getting a safe and quality product to your table. As a supplier of software services, Aeros helps you feed the world.
Earlier, I mentioned my Arkansas roots and thought I would close this with a poem from Hickory Ridge, Arkansas where my parents grew up.
They ran to the groceries, they filled up their carts,
They emptied the Tops, Price Chopper, and Walmarts,
They panicked and fought and then panicked some more,
Then they rushed to their homes and they locked all the doors.
The food will be gone! The milk eggs and cheese!
The yogurt! The apples! The green beans and peas!
The stores have run out, now what will we do?
They’ll be starving and looting and nothing to do!
Then they paused, and they listened a moment or two.
And they did hear a sound, rising over the fear,
It started out far, then began to grow near.
But this sound wasn’t sad, nor was it new,
The farms were still doing what farms always do.
The food was still coming, though they’d emptied the shelves,
The farms kept it coming, though they struggled themselves,
Though the cities had forgotten from where their food came,
The farms made them food every day, just the same.
Through weather and critics and markets that fall,
The farms kept on farming in spite of it all.
They farmed without thank yous.
They farmed without praise.
They farmed on the hottest and coldest of days.
They’d bought all the food, yet the next day came more,
And the people thought of something they hadn’t before.
Maybe food, they thought, doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe farmers, perhaps, mean a little more…
Anthony Barton // General Manager