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Common Questions About Agriculture – Answered!

There are two issues to break down in this question. First, by 2050 there will be nearly 10 billion people on Earth. This is about 3 billion more mouths to feed than there were in 2010. But this does not automatically mean we will need more farmers. Technology will play a key role in increasing efficiency to meet the rising food demand. However, it is important to note that America’s population of farmers and ranchers is aging. The median age of farmers is 57.5 years which means the U.S. will need to train a new generation of farmers and ranchers to fill the gaps left by those retiring in the next 20 years.

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High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a common sweetener in sodas and drinks. Recently, it has come under fire for impacting obesity, but research suggests that there is no significant difference between HFCS and other sweeteners. Researchers are confident, however, that too much sugar of any kind in a diet can lead to obesity. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories a day of added sugar for women and 150 calories for men. That’s equal to about 6 tsp of sugar for women, and 9 tsp for men.

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Agriculture is a necessity! It creates jobs, helps our economy and provides our basic necessities — food, fiber (like cotton and wool) and shelter (like lumber for homes). By 2050, there will be nearly 10 billion people on Earth. This is about 3 billion more mouths to feed than there were in 2010. Increasing food production today while preserving tomorrow’s resources will be necessary to meet the needs of our growing population and demands creativity and innovation. Farmers of all ages face this challenge and must continue to be advocates for the importance of agriculture and the need for the industry in the future

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Yes. Food in the United States is very affordable. We only spend an average of 10% of our household income on food compared to 30% in India and 53% in Kenya. According to the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy, a family of four on a thrifty meal plan can eat at home for about $130 a week. American farmers work hard to provide consumers safe, healthy and wholesome food at these affordable prices. Additionally, consumers can follow tips from www.choosemyplate.gov about healthy eating on a budget. These include creating a game plan before grocery shopping, learning to correctly read food labels and researching budget-conscious meals.

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According to the USDA Economic Research Service, “In 2016, 87.3% of food and beverage purchases by U.S. consumers, including both grocery store and eating out purchases, were from domestic production. The remaining 12.7% were imported food and beverages such as produce from Chile or wines from France.” The process of getting food from the farm to the table is called the Food Supply Continuum. This continuum encompasses a number of steps in three main phases: pre-harvest, harvest and postharvest. Included in pre-harvest is the producer or farmer, transportation of the product, and marketing of the product. The harvest phase includes harvesting the meat, fruit, vegetable or food product and processing it into a usable form. The final stage is postharvest, encompassing retailing the product, distributing the product through the food service industry and, finally, reaching the consumer.

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Here are some common labels:

  • Omega-3 Enriched: Ingredients like flaxseed and fish oils are added to hen’s diets to increase omega-3 content.
  • Organic: Hens are not in cages and are raised according to the USDA’s National Organic Program guidelines
  • Free-range: Hens are raised with access to the outdoors.
  • Cage-free: Hens are allowed to roam in open areas.

But don’t be confused by the jargon. While an enriched egg may have additional nutrients like omega-3 fatty acid, these eggs still have the same calories, protein and total fat of conventional eggs. When it comes to production method, research suggests the diet of the hens is more important than where they live. Each production system has pros and cons. In order to maintain the egg production needed for the national and global demand, and keep egg prices low, layer houses with conventional cage systems are needed in the egg production process.

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No. Local is a definition based on location. The Congressional Research Service defined locally grown as “being transported less than 400 miles, or from within the state in which it is produced,” but retailers, states, farmer’s markets and others can come up with their own definition. Organic is a definition based on production method. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, organic farms follow a set of standards outlined in the Organic Foods Production Act. Products are held to these standards all the way from farm-to-table and are subject to regular on-site inspections. Want to find out more about the National Organic Program? Visit www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/nop

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Not necessarily. Research shows that frozen vegetables can even be more nutritious than fresh vegetables! There are two reasons why. First, frozen vegetables are often left to ripen longer than fresh vegetables. As they ripen and mature, they become full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Second, vegetables begin to lose their nutritional value as soon as they are harvested. Freezing slows this process. Scientists conducted a test on frozen and fresh vegetables. They found that vitamin C in fresh broccoli dropped by more than 50% within one week, but in frozen broccoli it dropped by only 10%. Those only eating fresh, raw vegetables may be missing out on the full nutritional benefit of eating vegetables from a variety of sources.

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Not necessarily. In many cases, hunger is not caused by a shortage of food. In fact, the world produces enough food to feed everyone. In most cases, hunger is caused by poverty. Poverty results in the inability to purchase food, safely store food or transport food from where it is grown to where it is needed.

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Not necessarily. This may come as a surprise, but if you’re buying or eating locally grown food, it may not be food grown in your community. There is no set determination for the definition of locally grown. Locally grown products may have been grown at a local farm just up the road, in the same county as your farmers market or, possibly, even within the same state. However, in other cases, locally grown may come from 250, 400 or even 1000 miles away from the spot of sale. The Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 defines locally grown as “being transported less than 400 miles, or from within the state in which it is produced.” But retailers, states, farmer’s markets and other organizations may use their own definition. Want to know where your food comes from? Read the label or ask your local grocer.

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