Let’s take a look at the faces and hands of those who farm the land and produce our food—we’ll immediately understand a life filled with sacrifice.
It’s easy to write about the country. After just a few visits you can close your eyes and try to remember the enveloping experience that involves all your senses. For those who occasionally go away for a few days, the contrast with the urban atmosphere encourages identification with all that which makes it beautiful. Human beings feel immediately identified with nature because nature is our origin. Not so many centuries ago we abandoned valleys, forests and coasts. We have been designed to survive in nature, along with other species.
As children, we associate the countryside with idyllic moments. It’s easy to remember the escapades in which we felt truly free despite being under the protection of our parents and grandparents. Lying down on the grass, chasing animals, pretending to be farmers for the first time. Discovering in the morning that the sun is already shining before going out to meet it, and if the weather permitted, watching it disappear on the distant horizon. At those moments of the day when everything looks larger than life, for the first time we also learnt the value of each season of the year.
But a trip to the country isn’t the same as a life in the country. Those who spent the first years of our lives on a ranch are well aware of the power of nature and of man’s strenuous efforts to domesticate it. For if one thing defines the natural environment that is its wild spirit, the fact that it is unstoppable in front of a fence, furrow or ravine; it forgives no oversights, it understands no pauses. We’ve seen our parents get up early every day of the year to carry out farm work, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year. Working in the rain, worrying about the rain, fighting the rain. Blessing the sun, protecting themselves from the sun, cursing the sun. Helping an animal give birth, feeding a newly-born animal, looking after it, getting to love it and then having to sacrifice it.
Let’s stand in their shoes, in those of all the people who cultivate our food. Over and above their ability to embellish our fields, to look after the animals inhabiting our farms, of preserving the natural balance between the wild and the untamed, so we should acknowledge that their strength is what enables us to live. Behind each morsel of food we put in our mouths there is a family that has sacrificed the conveniences of city life to devote their whole lives to farm labour. We don’t need any supernatural powers to understand in an instant their whole lives—all we need to do is to closely observe their faces and hands.