Community Agriculture Alliance: Ag facts are in
The news is grim. During the past 30 years, much of America’s most fertile farm and ranch land has been lost to development. The visible signs of a changing landscape can be seen as fields fade beneath sprouting homes and acres of pavement. According to the New York Times, the United States is losing two acres of mostly prime farmland every minute to development, the fastest such decline in the country’s history, a new study has found. Not a single state in the United States is left untouched, and 38 percent of the agricultural land developed nationwide was prime, the land best suited to produce food and other agricultural crops.
But the 2016 Routt County Fair is about to begin, so we should talk some fun facts — newsy food bites you can mention during dinner to impress your family and friends about the importance of agriculture.
• Raising beef cattle is the single largest segment of American agriculture. The U.S. supplies 25 percent of the world’s beef with 10 percent of the world’s cattle.
• There are more than 40 breeds of sheep in the U.S. and approximately 900 breeds around the world.
• Six classes bring order to the thousands of varieties of wheat. They are: hard red winter, hard red spring, soft red winter, durum, hard white and soft white.
• Approximately 6.3 billion gallons of beer are produced in the U.S., annually. This requires 236,250,00 tons of barley
• The average milk cow produces 90 glasses of milk each day, or about 200,000 glasses of milk throughout her life.
• Americans eat approximately 100 acres of pizza each day, or 350 slices per second.
• Americans today consume 17.3 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year.
• There are about 7,000 cherries on an average tart cherry tree. It takes about 250 cherries to make a cherry pie, so each tree could produce enough cherries for 28 pies.
• Americans eat about 30 pounds of lettuce every year.
• More than 200 million pounds of blueberries are grown every year in North America. Blueberries are first picked by hand to gather the best of the early fruit.
• It takes 24 to 26 hours for a hen to produce an egg. Thirty minutes pass between each egg-producing cycle.
• There are more than 500 different types of bananas.
• Last year, 1.3 million pounds of pasta were sold in American grocery stores. If you lined up 1.3 million pounds of 16 oz. spaghetti packages, it could circle the Earth’s equator almost nine times.
• Apples are a member of the rose family.
• Asparagus is a member of the lily family.
In the United States, we take the quantity and quality of our food for granted. But if you eat, drink or wear clothing, it is because someone has worked hard to produce a commodity.
In the Yampa Valley, all of us know a rancher or a farmer — pick your favorite one, and call him or her to say thanks. Or better yet, thank them in person at the Routt County Fair.
Marsha Daughenbaugh is executive director of Community Agriculture Alliance.
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