drove into town with my grandkids in tow, I was struck with
the beauty of spring emerging around us. Pastures dotted
with newborn calves and their grazing mothers gave way to
greening fields of winter wheat — the first crop of the
pointed out the changing landscape to my granddaughter and
she began to chatter about grass and flowers.
makes grass and flowers grow? I quizzed.
thought a moment and said, "Dirt. And water. And…sunshine!"
good answer from a 3 year-old.
in an agricultural community has given me a better
appreciation for the work involved to produce our food.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Foundation, less than 2 percent of our population produces
enough food to feed our entire country. That’s close to
150 people each farmer in America feeds in addition to his
own family. In comparison, an American farmer in the 1960’s
produced enough to feed just 25 people.
the shift? Blame it on shrinking farmland and fewer young
people choosing careers in agriculture. Although most (95
percent) farms in the U.S. remain family owned and operated,
farming techniques are more sophisticated and precise to
meet the demands of our growing population, say experts. As
a result, 90 percent of those who grow our food are college
in the heartland, I’m intrigued with how farmers and
ranchers work together to sustain their precious land and
animals from year to year. After a farmer harvests his corn
crop in the fall, for example, he makes his field available
for pregnant cows from a nearby ranch. During the colder
winter months, the cows then glean the remains of leftover
corn husks and stalks to supplement their higher energy
needs of pregnancy.
winter wanes, the rancher moves his pregnant herd back to
home pastures to begin calving season, leaving behind
well-fertilized land for the farmer to disk back into the
soil for spring planting. As my granddaughter says,
excellent article in the spring issue of Western Harvest —
a publication for farmers and ranchers — makes these
important points about modern agriculture:
and ranching take place in the real, physical world, in
nature’s — not man’s reality. It cannot be otherwise.
Mankind cannot ‘make’ food. We can’t ‘make’ plants
and animals. We can only cultivate what nature provides. If
we violate nature’s rules, we fail."
farmers and ranchers have the skills, ability and experience
to produce food in such a way as to protect and nurture
ecosystem resources with incredibly high degrees of
sustainability, this article states. "And American
consumers will pay far less for this bounty than any other
group of consumers on the planet."
thankful for that.