15 April, 2014

No Farms No Food

As a 20-year-old college graduate, I didn't really know what I was supposed to do with a degree in Agribusiness Management if I am already on the path to fulfilling my life-long dream: becoming a trophy wife. But after a friend lit the fire under my tail about a particular issue in agriculture, I decided there was one thing I could do with my degree: educate others about agriculture.

Do you know where your food comes from? As I prepared chicken breasts to be cooked for dinner today all I could see was the perfect, smooth piece of meat that I would feed the family for dinner. It came in a plastic re-zippable bag with a million different marketing labels. Folks don't know that most of what they pay for at the store is the package, the label, and the brand (see below). What you don't see is the process it took to get that pullet from a fertilized egg to the KFC in your 20-piece dip ems bucket.

As I pulled the chicken out of the bag and started to cut it into pieces my mind started to turn. There were about 30 breasts of chicken in the bag, so it probably took 15 chickens to make up the whole bag. There were like 50 bags at Costco and my family only purchased one bag. That's 750 chickens, and that's just 1 Costco! How long was each chicken in production before it was slaughtered? How much feed did it take to produce a chicken that big? Where did that feed come from, and how long did it take to grow? Most people don't know that farmers stay up for days and nights at a time, watering their crops to feed the animals that you eat, as well as grow everything else that somehow makes it to your plate.

After considering all of this you can only imagine how much it gets me going when people start on GMOs, sustainability, organic certified, and the list goes on. Do they even know how corn is genetically modified? Do they realize that we could only produce 20% of the food we currently produce if it weren't for GMOs? Half of the people reading this post would be dead from malnutrition. No duh we are going to try and mix corn varieties to find the best combination of breeds that will survive the weather, pests, and other biological effects as well as increase yields. When they complain about hormones in beef do they realize that soy, tofu, and even oranges have more estrogen (by the hundreds per ounce) than 1 ounce of beef? And don't even get me started on "organic sustainability." Cows fed with grain produce 1/3 less methane (greenhouse gases) than those that are grass-fed at a fraction of the cost...HOW IS THAT SUSTAINABLE?

The reason we have GMOs, cross-breeding between animals, and the tractors that let out such "horrible" emissions is because everyone has to eat. I don't care how green, how hippy, or how "aware" you are, you still need food. Farmers around the world are trying to grow enough food to feed YOU. The only way they can do that is by technology that allows them to produce higher yields to feed the world at a faster rate. By 2050, we need enough food to feed 9 billion people, 70% of which will live in cities and probably have little to no idea where their food comes from. 100% more food will be required if we want to feed that 9 billion. Imagine the stress this puts on the agricultural sector. And here people are, complaining that farmers don't care about the environment.

As a farmer and an advocate for agriculture I would urge you to educate yourselves more about farming practices; learn what these things mean, what the issues are about, and take a stand. Farmers are so busy growing your food they don't have time to defend themselves. I suggest if you want to eat dinner tonight or anytime in the next 10 years, you consider how that food got on your plate, and be thankful for the people who put it there.

No comments: