It’s a story my friends know well. On a humid, sunny Tuesday morning in August, I walked into my first agricultural class as a student of agriculture. I began my freshman year at Purdue in speech pathology, but eventually switched to agricultural communication because of my interest in all things food and words.
That is how I found myself sitting in an animal science class my sophomore year of college. The professor introduced himself, then projected an image of sheep onto the screen and asked the class which breed they were. While I sat dumb-founded at my desk, my boot-clad classmates shouted out the answer. I then realized there was more to agriculture than I initially thought, and I decided I would immerse myself in exploring the field.
Living on the outskirts of Indianapolis, my childhood was an odd combination of knowing the distinct smell cow manure and frequenting the theaters and museums of downtown. I grew up knowing the difference between corn and soybeans, but not understanding what happened to the crops once they were harvested.
Indiana Soy | Bryan Ballinger
During my undergraduate years at Purdue, the world of agriculture went from being an impersonal industry, to my desired vocation. My interest in food morphed into a zeal for the people, places and practices that are responsible for feeding us.
Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to meet the people, explore the places and learn about the practices involved with getting food from the farm to the table. I have talked with farmers who work from sunrise to sunset in the spring to make sure their crops are planted in time. I have traveled to a multi-generational dairy farm and talked to the cows’ caretakers to understand how the animals are monitored and kept healthy. I have visited a soybean processing plant to learn how a bean is separated into oil for our salad dressings and meal for livestock feed.
As the assistant director of communication at the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, I connect the people of agriculture with the consumers they serve. My goal is to help people who don’t work in agriculture see how their food is tied to farmers, ag economists, food scientists, etc.
“The (agri)Cultured Foodie” is my blog for the ISDA where I discuss and highlight the various facets of agriculture that impact the food we serve on our table. I’m looking forward to interacting with consumers and farmers, both in person and on this blog.
Is there an aspect of agriculture and/or food that you’d like me to write about? Comment below and I’ll add it to my list of ideas. Thanks for stopping by!