Agricultural workers deserve our support

We were having breakfast at a hotel in eastern Colorado when the manager decided to comment on the world situation. And he was very vocal about what needs to be changed, especially in his community.

“As you know, agriculture is angry, whether you like it or not,” he said.

I didn’t say it back then — my mouth was full of raisin blanc — but I hope he’s wrong. In addition to our trip to the grocery store being very disappointing without the farmers and ranchers who produce our food, many other products will also be badly overlooked.

I thought more about this as I headed to western Texas and passed acres of cotton fields. Cotton is one of my favorite fabrics for clothing, sheets and towels. It can also be woven into velvet, corduroy, denim, jersey and flannel. I was also surprised that the dried stems left over after harvesting the cotton could be used to make paper and cardboard. You wouldn’t want to live in this precious crop-free world.

If animal farming proceeded “angry” as this gentleman predicted, we would have lost far more than milk, eggs, cheese and meat. Leather for shoes, handbags, upholstery and football is made from, for example, cowhide. Tennis racket strings and surgical sutures also come from cows, and there are a variety of medications such as heparin (an anticoagulant) and a component of rejection inhibitors needed by transplant patients.

And what do crayons, candles, dishwashing liquids, deodorants and tires have in common? According to the Arizona Beef Council, they are all made from beef by-products.

Corn is also a versatile crop. Products derived from corn include fresh corn, popcorn, cornmeal, cornstarch, corn syrup, and corn oil. And don’t forget ethanol, the fuel produced by corn.

Here’s some good news from the USDA as we are looking for more and more ways to sustain the world in the long run. In 2011, corn bushels were produced with 40% less land, 40% energy, 50% water, 60% soil erosion and 35% less greenhouse gases than in 1980. The rancher for that.

When I drove from one farming community to another, I came to understand how big a job was to keep animals, crops and fields healthy and productive. And, according to the American Federation of Agricultural Affairs, the work is done by less than 2% of our American population. I think they deserve our support.

Barbara Quinn-Intermill is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at a community hospital on the Monterey Peninsula. She is the author of “Quinn-Essential Nutrition” (Westbow Press, 2015). Email her at

Agricultural workers deserve our support

Source link Agricultural workers deserve our support

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