Thanksgiving is the most traditionally American holiday. Its observance was started by the Pilgrim Fathers 150 years before the founding of the United States.
A Thanksgiving for abundant harvests is even more approprite in 1974 than ever before. Our thanks should go not only to God, but to the American farmer who is the world’s most advanced and efficient producer. He feeds himself and 58 other persons on a high-protein diet, in contrast to the Russian farmer who feeds himself and only seven other persons on a starchy diet.
The American farmer produces the best, the most, the greatest variety, and the lowest-priced food in the world. And out of our sur-pluses, we have generously given away some $25 billion worth of food to the hungry in foreign lands. Eighty-four percent of world food relief has been provided by the United States.
Many other countries in the world have just as fertile soil and even longer growing seasons than we have. What makes the difference in the United States is the climate of freedom that has given the American farmer the incentive to produce, and has encouraged American industry to invent and manufacture the agricultural machinery that enables one man to farm hundreds of acres.
The big contrast between American and Russian agriculture was dramatized when Russian dictator Nikita Khrushchev visited an Iowa farm in 1959. He bellowed, ”Where are the workers?” and simply could not believe that a single family could operate a 1,000-acre farm.
At the recent Rome Food Conference, the Socialist nations, led by Red China, Cuba and India, falsely blamed the United States for the world food shortage, and demanded more free food as “compensation.” Instead of blaming us, the Socialist countries should, first, get government off the backs of their own farmers, and, second, invite American farmers to teach them our production techniques.
Illinois Farm Bureau president Harold B. Steel, upon his return from Rome, reported that “most of the 77 underdeveloped nations represented at the World Food Conference feel the United States owes them free food.” He went on to say that, “I take a negative approach to people or nations telling us what we must do with our food production. We cannot help the world’s starving by joining them in their starvation. We can’t help anyone if we destroy the American agricultural economy.”
In the present world food emergency, however, there are some steps we could take to help. One idea would be for Americans to drink less alcohol, and thereby cut back on the grain now used for that purpose. Harvard nutritionist Jean Mayer says that Americans drink enough grain-made alcohol each year to feed 40 to 50 million persons.
Another step we might take would be sto top subsidizing farmers who grow tobacco. Tobacco fields could then be used for growing food, and our taxpayers would be relieved from paying to grow a product which the Surgeon General says is dangerous to health. Some experts have estimated that Americans waste up to 25 percent of the. food they buy. If the amount of food that contributes to overweight is taken into account, some experts believe that our “waste” figure, may go as high as 50 percent.
However, the best thing we can do for hungry countries is to encourage them to imitate the freedom and the methods that have made the American farmer so productive.