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Who’s Feeding America?

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Melissa Green
Contributor

Do you wonder where your food comes from? Are you curious about the processes your food goes through?

Have no fear, you aren’t the only one. Consumers want to know more about the food they purchase to feed their families. But where do you get that information when less than 2% of Americans live on a farm? Well look no further! Through this column, I will share agriculture issues and production practices to show how food is cared for from the field to your plate.

I have been in agriculture my whole life and have always had a passion for sharing agriculture’s story. Born and raised in Arbuckle, I have planted oat hay, raised cattle and sheep, dabbled in chickens, and loved stock dogs and barn cats. After graduating with a Masters in Meat Science (yeah, you read that right), I started my career in the meat processing industry. I won’t claim to have all the answers, but I will do my best to point you in the right direction. No matter your food preference, I believe that everyone should be educated about what they eat.

So let’s get the ball rolling with some fundamental information. Just how important are farmers to feeding our families? Just last year, one farmer produced enough food to feed 155 people. Wow! When you think about how many farmers and ranchers there must be, it can be difficult to consider anyone going hungry. The truth is that these farmers and ranchers are an endangered species. Honest!

Every day the land needed to feed 155 people is threatened. Between 1997 and 2007, the US Census showed that 34 million acres of land stopped being used for agriculture. If one acre is approximately the size of a football field, and the average farm/ranch is about 400 acres, then think of the number of farmers and ranchers on those 34 million acres that stopped producing food. For each one of those farmers, there are 155 less people that will be fed. This puts extra pressure on the existing farmers and ranchers to produce more food for more people with less land.

Whether you eat vegetarian, natural, organic, or traditionally grown items, they all come from a farmer or rancher. The men and women of America’s agriculture work hard to bring quality food to your plate. Some have been in agriculture for generations; some are new to the field. Either way, they are passionate and dedicated to their mission to feed you and our growing population.

Have you eaten today? Thank a farmer, thank a rancher.■

 

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Melissa Green
Raised on a ranch in Arbuckle overlooking the Sutter Buttes, Melissa Green holds a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from CSU Chico; she also holds a master’s degree in Meat Science from Colorado State University. Green currently works in Northern California conducting research and development for new meat products. Her passion for educating consumers on the topic of “where our food comes from” enables Green her to pursue a mission in preserving our agricultural heritage.

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