Virginia, roughly shaped like a triangle (per my fantastic drawing above), is home to two distinct population curves. The more common one, called the Golden Crescent, is home to approximately 6.1 million people, and if it were a state, it would be second in the nation for college degrees, wealth, etc. It stretches from the military mecca of Hampton Roads, up around the Richmond metro area, into the population density known as Northern Virginia.
The other population curve is a more recent addition, named the Golden Horseshoe, starting on Southern Virginia, pointing towards the Southwest region, and up through the Shenandoah Valley. This curve is home to approximately 2.1 million people, and if it were a state, it would be 50th in the nation for college degrees, wealth, etc. (Source: Dr. Basil Gooden, of course)
What a contrast.
As we discussed this unique Virginia challenge at our last VALOR Southside seminar, I couldn’t help but think of the parallels with agriculture communities across the nation. As the “golden crescent” of the US population is tweeting about their fabulous vacay, what they ate (and how posh it was), and how much money they blew at the latest boutique on something that was “toad adorbs,” the part of the population that grew the food and fiber at the base of those spending sprees was like …
In Virginia, we’ve named the disconnect we see in the state. In the nation, the disconnect with food and the land is so daggone large that a name wouldn’t even put it on the map. Literally.
Less than 2% of the US population claims agriculture as a job title, thereby rendering them in the distinct minority. And yet the “golden crescent” of the U.S. freely utilizes the resources provided by the “golden horseshoe,” and even has the gall to tell them how they should prepare and provide the resources.
This hurts my heart.
I lay claim to both shapes in Virginia; I was born and raised in the Golden Crescent, and am now raising a family in the Golden Horseshoe. I also interact with both national populations, so to speak, as a blogger for agriculture with a goal of creating relationships with consumers disconnected from agriculture. And you know what? I expect more out of both shapes –
- I expect MORE from those in agriculture: reach out into your community and create relationships outside of ag. Stretch you limits, step out of your box. Connect with others in-person and online in a relational way. Don’t bash, don’t yell, and certainly don’t argue. Reach out.
- I expect MORE from those who wander the grocery store aisles: don’t go along with a diet or food choice just because you see it on Instagram or your fav celebrity endorses it. If you have a question about a food, reach out to a farmer or agriculture group – reach out to a few. Do some research that doesn’t consist of the top three hits on the Google. Really.
Agriculture won’t ever be in the population majority – I get it. Virginia will always have two shapes – I get it. However, I expect more from myself as well – to reach over the great divide and light a spark that can start a fire.
The world will be better because we did.