Schaeffer, petting ‘Baby’ 

Each August, just before a crazed week of birthdays and back-to-school shopping, our family makes it a point to fit in at least one day at our county’s youth fair. I was raised in the City (not necessarily far from the farm-but certainly without contact with one), while my husband was raised on the farm. Griffin, a  proud 4-H’er, showed goats, sheep and pigs. I meanwhile, did not have true ‘firsthand’ experience with farm animals until after we were married and attended my first state fair.

What’s especially unique to the youth fair, something sweet that we treasure, each animal has been lovingly raised by a child. This creates a tender relationship with the animal and child, and yields a heightened awareness of the life cycle. It’s bittersweet for me–knowing that the animals will go to slaughter–all while watching the kids  interact with their animals as most would with a dog or cat.

There’s something about seeing livestock in person that yields a different understanding, a different relationship with your food. This is something we value–knowing that a cow is beef, and beef is a hamburger. Understanding that french fries are potatoes and potatoes come from the ground. I’m grateful that my daughter can identify most the fruits and vegetables at both our local farm stand and our grocery–and that we know the people who grow them.