Radke Report: Safe, affordable food for kids paramount to the American Dream
There’s no doubt about it: This past year has been hard on many Americans. Rising food and fuel prices are hitting the lower and middle class hard. Supply chain disruptions and shortages on things like baby formula have many panicking, and seeing photos of bare shelves in grocery stores across the country leaves one wondering, “How can this actually be happening in America, the land of abundance?”
It’s a stark reminder that we often take the basic essentials for granted, but in the last two years, I’ve had more conversations with folks outside of agriculture who are becoming increasingly aware of the vulnerabilities in our food supply chain and are wanting to ask questions direct from the source.
A perfect example of this is a friend of mine who lives in New York City. He called me in the middle of the pandemic with a huge concern. The meat case was empty in many of the grocery stores in the Big Apple, and he just wanted to buy beef for his family. He wanted to know if we shipped beef, and although we aren’t set up for that, I was able to connect him with friends who were able to deliver beef straight to his doorstep during an uncertain time.
Solutions, not empty talk, is what’s going to connect with consumers in 2022 and beyond. They want access to food that is affordable, nutritious, delicious and trustworthy. They want to feel good about what they are eating, and, now more than ever, they want to connect with the folks who produce it.
This presents those of us in production agriculture with a unique opportunity to be the solution our consumers are seeking, to make priceless connections, while also earning a premium for our products.
It’s not only a win-win for our customers, but it’s also an incredible chance for us to create a more robust, connected and thriving network in our own communities.
Although we often hear about the global market and how we export foods all around the world, I believe that in the years to come, a new level of success will be measured by how many people we can connect with and serve in our immediate sphere of influence.
Ranchers selling steaks. Poultry farmers selling eggs. Gardeners selling produce. Mom and pop shops on main street selling soaps, shoes, tires and countless other goods and services. And our dollars circulating round and round in a loop that benefits families and keeps our dollars close to home, where it matters most.
With this mentality, the next generation has the opportunity to stick around. The young people aren’t moving away in droves for higher paid jobs in big cities. Churches stay open. Main Street thrives. Schools are filled with classrooms of young people. And community members help to raise up the next generation. Together.
Call me old fashioned, but to me, that’s the American dream. It’s also the solution for a lot of societal woes, outside of just supply chain disruptions in the food space. I think it’s time we reclaim some of the simple joys of connection, community and family.
This topic was the framework for the “Bridging America: How Food Security Unites Us All” event, which was held on Independence Day in Keystone. I was honored to share the star with an incredible slate of speakers including Trent Loos, John Bolin, Kevin Jenkins and many more, and it was truly an amazing day where we focused not on the problems ahead, but on the solutions that can help us move forward.
For me, the highlight of the day was seeing my children stand proudly on stage, with their hands on their hearts, as they recited the Pledge of Allegiance in front of the American flag. Even more special was getting the chance to read my new children’s book, “Faith, Family, Freedom,” to the children in attendance, knowing that this event and this discussion is meant for one big reason: to ensure that our kids and our grandkids get to enjoy the freedoms and liberties that we have enjoyed in this country for generations.
And part of the battle ahead is ensuring that every child in America has access to safe and affordable food. We must be the solution, and I believe our agricultural community is up to the task. Now it’s time for us to get to work and reignite this American dream for our kids by taking steps each day to make it possible. We can do this!
Amanda Radke is a fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State University with a degree in agricultural communications, education and leadership, Radke is a blogger for BEEF Daily blog.