A Harry Situation

By LaNae Nalder

Youth’s beliefs are greatly influenced by today’s pop culture and trending philosophies. While some of these new ideas are revolutionary and inspiring others leave, individuals lacking in reality. One specific piece I would like to address is Harry Potter and its effects on agriculture.

J.K Rowling is one of the most praised authors of our time. The Potter franchise is valued over fifteen billion and adorning fans line the streets waiting for more.  I find myself reading these wildly imaginative stories to my children, discovering that too much of our world is blurred between fantasy and truth.

First, at Hogwarts the great banquet hall is an important part of their school culture. Nothing is more impressive then when Dumbledore announces a grand reward and then with a clap clap of his hands the feast begins. Food magically appears, perfectly laid out to be eaten. It is superior in quality, hot, and fresh. While reading about one of these dinners my nine-year-old son Rhett said, “that is just creepy.” And creepy I think it is, because food does not just magically appear before our eyes, or does it?

With less than 2% of Americans involved in agriculture more and more of society is urbanized. Many children don’t truly know where their food comes from. I have read several studies where kindergarten age children honestly believe that milk comes from the store. We are lacking in Ag education from farm to dinner plate. I have to admit that a trip to the local Walmart is pretty close to wizardry. In a matter of minutes, I can formulate any amazing dinner. I find fruits and vegetables out of season, prime steaks cut into appropriate portions, and chocolate milk- who knew that brown cows give brown milk. Children grow up watching from the grocery cart as row after row of food appears. This creates an entitlement issue; most Americans expect these consumer options without reflecting on the sacrifice of production.

Upon further research, I learned that in Florida (along with some other State’s), welfare Electronic Benefit Transfer cards are accepted at KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway, Taco Bell and other major fast food chains. Gone are the days of rice and beans when the word welfare meant basic physical well-being of a person. No wonder America’s welfare program under the Farm Bill is vastly abused. The idea from Harry Potter that with a clap of a hand food magically appears is false. Even the magical world has a governing law that food cannot appear out of thin air. Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration states that food can be summoned, transformed, or magically increased in quantity, but it must originate from somewhere. Children need to know where their food really comes from. Even fast food originates with farmers and costs money.

It is very clear that Ag education is a necessity, but how and where? I think that Hogwarts answers this question with Herbology class. Even Harry had to spend time learning about the herbs, greenhouses, and how to properly mix potions together to meet his sorcery desires. Baking for us is no less important as muggles. I have a 7th grade daughter Rylie that has had to take Home Economics and for a two-week period the students learned to cook food for themselves. This is a wonderful idea, but because of budget problems most School Districts don’t offer these types of classes. Students are taught to eat a balanced meal, yet they do not explore the world of farming and ranching. America’s consumers (future 7th graders) will make better decisions if they have all the facts. I would love to see schools go back to the day when little greenhouses were part of the curriculum. Even big inner city schools can encourage this type of instruction. Public education is where the biggest difference could be made in agriculture education.

While it is fun to compare our realm with adventures past platform 9 3/4, it isn’t realistic because Harry Potter is fictional. This is a “Harry” situation. Ag education is our only chance to invoke the truth in America’s youth. With Thanksgiving and this Holiday season soon approaching take the time to thank a farmer, because your feast did not magically appear.