Stomping around the farm in my kid-sized work boots, the strength of my parents often amazed me. There was plenty of work to do on our dairy farm. One of my first tasks was to give fresh water to our baby calves. Struggling to carry a full pail, I used my little red wagon to pull the containers to our hydrant. Meanwhile, my parents could carry not one, but two buckets full of water by hand. I wanted to do whatever it took to grow strong like them. Their advice: eat your fruits and vegetables.
My parents always pushed for my brother and me to get our five a day. Being a typical kid, I did not always want to eat foods that were good for me. Fortunately, we had many choices when purchasing fruits and vegetables. Our agriculture industry’s greatest strength is its diversity. Wisconsin ranks first in the nation for the production of cranberries and snap beans and is among the top producers for sweet corn, potatoes, carrots, apples and more. I had no excuse to keep Wisconsin produce off my plate.
As I grew, I traded my childhood boots for adult work shoes like my parents wear. I developed strength thanks to the vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants in Wisconsin fruits and vegetables. Accepting more responsibilities on my family’s farm, I no longer needed my wagon to do chores. My muscles developed. My hands became calloused, and I could finally keep up with my parents.
Now when I look at one of my hands, I see the simple reminder to continue eating my five daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Crunching on a crisp, Wisconsin apple in the morning, snacking on Door County Cherries in the afternoon and enjoying green peas with melted Wisconsin butter at night are some of the easiest and tastiest ways to fuel my adventure in agriculture.
Whether you are a farm kid, athlete or a businessperson, Wisconsin fruits and vegetables can help anyone reach their goals. This summer, help me spread the word by using #GiveMeFive to share how you get your five a day. Let’s swap stories and ideas so together we can fill the shoes of those who first inspired us to grow.