The Journey to Your Table

Do you ever look down at the food that you’re having for supper and think about all the people that had to go to work to provide that meal for you?  I do, and it absolutely amazes me. Just think:

Your plate.

The grocery store.

The meat counter.

Truckers to get it from the packing plant to the store.

Packing plant workers.


USDA Inspectors, veterinarians, livestock nutritionists, meat scientists, extension agents, feed salesmen…the list goes on and on.  The meat industry in the United States directly employs over 525,000 people and indirectly employs 6.2 million people (those who are not working directly with meat but still play a role in producing the product).  All of those people are devoted to producing a safe, nutritious, high quality product for you to serve to your family.

When I was younger I used to go to church camp in the summer.  Before meals, we would pray and then do a short, group song.  One of them that always stuck with me was as follows:

                “Back of the bread is the flour,

                And back of the flour is the mill,

                And back of the mill is the sun, and the rain, and the maker’s will.”

This rhyme has always stuck with me and makes me appreciate all that goes into the food we eat. 

Growing up on a farm I just thought of it as my family raised the livestock, a local butcher harvested the animals, we picked up the meat and our freezer was full.  I never really realized how great of a blessing that was.  Now that I am living 1200+ miles away from our farm it isn’t quite so simple.  During my studies I have been able to tour multiple packing plants and visit with people employed in the meat department at various grocery stores.  It is so cool to see the care and passion that goes into producing a high-quality product all the way from the farm, to the packing house, to the grocery store and to your kitchen table.  In the following weeks I will break this down into the different phases of meat production and talk about specific practices that are done at each step to ensure a safe product ends up on your kitchen table.

So next time you celebrate a birthday with a steak, or eat a hotdog at your child’s baseball game, take a minute and think about all the hands that had to play a role to provide that meal for you.  I think you’ll appreciate every bite just a little bit more.  


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