My response to Frances Moore Lappe blog: This Holiday, Give Thanks and Get Real about Food
"It is this: Our exceedingly bright species has ended up creating a "food" system so inefficient that much of it doesn't really produce food at all!" – Frances Moore Lappe
Dear Frances Moore Lappe:
We need to have chat about food and the great farmers and ranchers that grow your food. You see, I am a farmer. My family works hard every day using God’s given talent to grow corn, soybeans, and beef cattle. In Central Illinois, the soils on my farmland are noted to be the World’s Best Soil for raising Corn and Soybeans. The environmental condition and natural resources are best suitable for these crops. I cannot grow all the food items like vegetables and fruits I serve to my family year around or at all because the conditions in Illinois are not fit to do so. That is why this season of Thankfulness I am thankful for the hard working farmers and ranchers who produce my food in the United State and the world.
You call our food systems inefficient but I respectfully disagree with your perspective. The world of Agriculture is filled with innovation and we work hard to utilize every part of a raw product. During the processing process (such as in the making of ethanol fuel) not every part of the corn is utilize. Instead of wasting the by-products or the leftovers, researchers have tackle the task of turning the "must goes" to wonderful products you use every day. I admit this is work in progress but the agriculture community has made great strides.
I invite you to review the chart of the National Corn Growers explaining the many products of corn.
As a beef producer, I feed my animals a well-balanced diet. In order to keep them healthy, I feed grass or hay year round and feed rations that contain corn, oats, and soybean proteins plus minerals and vitamins. In fact, I feed co-products of corn and soybean to produce ‘high energy’ protein diets. The practice to feed co-products was not available for my grandfather.
People also need to eat a balance diet. If it were up to you-Frances, we would never get to enjoy a think juicy steak because you claim we waste our corn and soybeans in feeding cattle. People need animal proteins to live a healthy lifestyle. Animal Proteins-lean meats, eggs, and lowfat dairy products-are complete package of essential amino acids needed to stimulate muscle growth. Research has shown that moderately increasing protein intake can be an effective way to manage weight. Choosing lean meat as a nutrient-rich source of protein can be a calorie-saver. Meat is a great source of high-quality protein that no single vegetarian food can provide. A 3-ounce serving of lean beef offers the most protein with the fewest calories when compared to plant proteins such as peanut butter, black beans and tofu.
· A 3-ounce serving of lean beef is about 180 calories. You would have to eat 670 calories of peanut butter (more than 7 tablespoons) to get the same amount of protein.
· A person would need to consume two to three times the calories provided in a 3-ounce serving of beef to get an equivalent amount of protein from a veggie burger.
Similar to the co-products of corn and soybeans, every part of the animal is utilized for food or other products.
While it is no secret that livestock are large consumer of corn and soybeans, let me assure you that the agriculture community will answer the call to power to work through the supply and demand issues. In fact, advancement in technology and improving farming practices already have assisted U.S. farmers and ranchers to produce more on less land. My grandfather fed 19 people, my father fed 26 people, I feed 155 people, and I work hard to make sure my children will 155 and beyond. Today’s farmers produce 262 percent more food with 2 percent fewer inputs (labor, seeds, feed, fertilizer, etc.), compared with 1950.
In my opinion, Farmers and Ranchers’ biggest competitions are the concrete jungle, unnecessary government regulations, unpredictable weather, and the firestorms of false information spread about farming and ranching.
I encourage everyone to learn more about farming and the food on your plate but I urge you to actually ask a farmer or rancher. You do not know a farmer? Just ask, I can hook you up.
In the first Thanksgiving feast, the Pilgrims and Native American celebrate the first successful harvest. A harvest completed by hard working individuals that rolled up their sleeves and answer the call to power to feed their families. Today, the 2 percent – U.S. Farmers and Ranchers- do this every day. We answer the call to grow crops and livestock for food and other wonderful products that every person uses every day. So I ask you when you gather around your Thanksgiving table or pause to ponder on the things you are thankful for, please say thank you to the all the hardworking farmers, ranchers, and individuals that take part in getting the raw product from our fields to a product you purchase.
Cheryl Day, An American Farmer