By Kenneth Dierschke

In a time when just a few keystrokes into Google can reveal the answer to many of life’s most interesting questions, many Americans are still unsure of the origins of the foods they delight in each and every day. The truth is, the one thing Google and other search engines can’t share with you is the detail of the countless hours, sweat, tears, stress and pride that go into providing Americans with the world’s best, and most readily available, food supply.

As we celebrate Texas Food Connection Week, I encourage you to ask yourselves, what would life be like if we walked into HEB, Walmart or a small town grocery store only to find bare shelves? Thanks to farmers and ranchers across the Lone Star State and the nation, that’s a scenario most of us are not likely to see in our lifetimes.

As we recognize the hard work and dedication of those men and women during Texas Food Connection Week, I also encourage everyone—farmers and consumers alike—to  seek common ground.

While I realize that not everyone can meet face-to-face with the person who grows their potatoes, grapefruit, grapes and corn, I ask that you take the time to find the stories of those families who battle the elements to ensure we have the things we’ve come to expect at our local markets.

Texas Food Connection Week is about more than connecting farmers with their customers and vice versa. It’s also about promoting a general understanding that both parts of the equation are equally important—those who produce the food and those who consume it.

Without customers, farmers and ranchers have no markets. Without farmers and ranchers, customers face bare shelves.

In a time when many people live in urban or suburban areas, fewer and fewer people grow up working the soil and know the day-to-day trials and tribulations of planting a seed and watching it grow. By the same token, the American consumer isn’t just a faceless buyer. He or she is a person with nutritional needs, select tastes and preferences. The two worlds collide every day, and we need to work as one so that together we can build a diverse and secure food system that meets everyone’s needs.

This week, as you take a bite of a juicy steak or out of a mouth-watering grapefruit, take a moment to think about the efforts, labors and devotion that went into creating that tasty meal for you.

Farmers, as you head out into the fields to plow, fertilize or feed, think about the hundreds of your neighbors that you’re helping to feed with your efforts.

We’re all in this together, and this week especially, I encourage you to get to know one another and see the important roles we play in each others’ lives.

The above post is from Texas Farm Bureau President Kenneth Dierschke, a cotton and grain farmer from San Angelo. President Dierschke is one of five guest bloggers who are talking about food and farming during Texas Food Connection Week, sponsored by Texas Farm Bureau Feb. 17-23.