“Cultivators of the Earth are the most virtuous and independent citizens.”
I have worked for cultivators of the Earth in non-profit organizations for my entire career and remain dedicated to improving the triple bottom line of sustainability (social, environmental, economic–or people, planet, profit) for agriculture in a country that often takes food availability and security for granted.
My name is Polly Ruhland and I serve as the Chief Executive Officer for the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion & Research Board, which is responsible for oversight of The Beef Checkoff, a national commodity promotion, research and education program. I am also an Eisenhower Fellow. I only tell you these things as disclaimers, because this blog is my space. I use it as a pensieve and wouldn’t expect anyone or any organization to take responsibility for my own thoughts and words. The posts on this blog are mine and mine alone, for better or for worse.
Being a sociologist at heart (and by just enough study to be dangerous), I recognize the multiple roles food plays in societies worldwide. At its most basic level, food sustains life, but food’s influence goes much further. Food is an agent of social change. Farms and farmers are the focus of political battlegrounds involving security, environment, wild and domesticated animal care, poverty, obesity and child rearing, to name just a few. Food tethers social interaction in groups; it centers and calendars religious ceremonies; it is an outward sign of prosperity, or abject need. Food production and consumption draws communities together interactively and provides common goals and group celebratory occasions. Food’s gathering and preparation (from supermarket, field or forest; over fires or Viking ranges) has been central to the role of women in multiple societies throughout history–as community organizers, nurturers and providers of sustenance. I believe the role of farm families as food providers to be a bedrock of societies worldwide. The preservation of these people, this culture and this role inspires and motivates me every day.