Thank a Farmer for Food, Clothing, Shelter and Toothbrushes?

Today marks the first day of spring and also National Ag Day.Even though it was cold on the farm today, the sun was shining and that nasty mud is starting to recede. Those that know me will often hear me say: “if you enjoyed a meal today, thank a farmer.” When asked what do farmers do, most people would answer: grow food. Most farmers I know grow either a crop or animal that will eventually be eaten.  If questioned a little further, people might say farmers may produce a crop or animal that produces a by-product used in a clothing (i.e cotton or wool). But, have you ever thought about all those other products in your house? How about the house it’s self or even your lawn?

There are all sorts of farmers out there: dairy farmers, beef ranchers, cotton farmers, cucumber farmers, foresters, turf farmers. My brother even works on a tree farm that sells trees wholesale. There many different products that farmers produce, but what happens to the rest of the crop or animal that isn’t eaten?

Animals by-products are everywhere and most don’t end up on your dinner plate. In fact, 99% of a cow is used, but only half of that is eaten as beef.   By-products, or the non-meat products that come from animals, are used to make medicines, foods, household and industrial products. After meat, drugs and medicines are the major products that come from beef and pork. Hogs alone provide 40 important drugs. Did your grandpa just have a heart value transplant? Most likely those new valves are from a hog.

You don’t have to look far to find an animal by-product. This morning when you got out of bed you probably brushed your teeth with toothpaste. Toothpaste contains glycerin, a colorless and odorless fat from animals. Your toothbrush is probably plastic which also contains fatty acids from animals. After you finished brushing your teeth you probably washed your face with soap containing animal fats. Next you probably applied a face lotion containing lanolin, a fatty substance extracted from wool. You may have applied make-up containing glycerine and even dabbed on some glycerine containing perfume.

The paper you read while eating breakfast was printed with either soy ink or ink made from glycerine. After breakfast you walked across your wool carpet to sit on your couch stuffed with wool fibers. At this point you may have realized you were cold and decided to put on your leather slippers and a button up wool sweater. The buttons were either made of plastic (containing animal fatty acids) or bone from animals.

Plant by-products are everywhere as well. Soy ink, clothes made from corn or bamboo, fuel from grains and grasses, plastics and more. 

You can see how I could go on and on. Agriculture by-products are in almost everything we own: soaps, glass, wallpaper, antifreeze and oil.

So today, on National Ag Day, take a moment to reflect on all wonderful things that farms provide for us. Then raise your glass of milk and toothbrush in a toast to the nation’s most successful entrepreneurs: The American Farmer!


Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more,



Filed under Ag Education

2 responses to “Thank a Farmer for Food, Clothing, Shelter and Toothbrushes?

  1. Pingback: 7 Tips to Remove Cellulite on Thighs | Detox Foot Patch

  2. Pingback: Agvocates: People Just Like You « Gate to Plate Blog by Michele Payn-Knoper

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