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Agriculture – We’re all connected – We all should be informed

November 24, 2010

I remember eighth grade English class, it was right after lunch in the hottest room in the school, and it took everything I had to pay attention or stay awake. I don’t remember much from that English class, I do however remember the “Five W’s” which we were forced to repeat time and time again. Who, what, when, where, and why. We were most often required to do this for a novel, or before writing a paper. Now I commonly use the

Photo Illustration by Brittany Jurgemeyer: Whether it's through the food we eat, the clothes we wear, or the car we drive we all utlize products of the agriculture industry. By becoming educated about the agriculture industry and especially where our food comes from we can make informed choices that will benefit us as consumers and the industry.

five W’s method to figure out what the main points in the news are, or to learn more about a specific subject.

How many people are connected to agriculture?

Everyone should learn about the five W’s of food production, as well as of the agriculture industry. Everyone is connected to agriculture, whether it’s through the food they eat, or the job they have. This industry is vital to our survival. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, less than one percent of all United States citizens claim farming as an occupation, two percent say they live on farms. Recently I visited four first grade classrooms in a rural school district. Out of those classrooms, amounting to approximately 80 students total, only two students lived on farms. Consumers are becoming increasingly separated from their food supply. With that separation, comes a lack of knowledge on the who, what, when, where and why food is produced the way it is.

Responding to the statistics

The agriculture industry is responding to this distance between the producer and consumer with programs such as the United States Department of Agriculture’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food.” The website www.choose2choose.com and the Center for Food Integrity’s “Farmers Feed Us.” Advocating for allowing choices in the American food system, these programs urge consumers to make educated choices concerning the food they eat.

Why should we care?

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the world population will reach nine billion people by the year 2050. With one billion members of our population already going hungry, one facet of the agriculture industry cannot afford to be put above the rest. Consumers should become educated on what food they are buying, and what legislation they are passing. What is best for a low-income family may not be the same as what is best for a family with a higher income. Consumers should have the ability to make educated choices, and they should realize that it will take all of agriculture, not just local food, not just industrial production, to continue to be a successful industry.

Agriculture is a very vast industry, one that I don’t completely understand even after being around it for my entire life. It is however a very important industry. Most commonly known as the food, fiber, and fuel industry, agriculture is ‘what makes the world go round’ so to speak. In Iowa alone agriculture employs one in ten people, directly and indirectly. Many consumers don’t know where their food came from, and many more are disconnected from agriculture. It is time to become educated on what we put on our tables. It is time to understand the agriculture industry. And it is time to learn the who, what, when, where, and why of food production.

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