Monday, August 29, 2011

The Hand That Feeds Us

Yesterday I did a two mile easy run, one semi hard mile and then a cool down mile. It was 6:30 in the morning so you would think the air would feel nice and cool, but no I felt muggy and warm already. 
 It was all supposed to be an easy run, but sometimes it is so hard not to throw in a little bit of speed., it just feels so good.   Anyone else have trouble with this?

I also did a workout that left me a sweaty mess on the floor.   I do confess that I have  been really lax lately with  my cross training so I am going to try to get back to three BodyRock workouts a week again.  I think  part of it is that they are traveling right now and not posting new workouts daily.  Lame excuse considering the hundreds of old ones I could go back and do I know.  I think the other part has just been the heat and a little bit of laziness. 

I saw an article in the Western Ag Reporter (bonus points to anyone who has heard of it or read it) and thought it interesting enough to share.

This might not have a lot to do with running except that we all love to eat and need to refuel our bodies.  The average age of the full-time American farmer is 58, the oldest at any time in the history of our country.  If they all retire at the average retirement age of 65 think of the problems we could have.  Why aren't young people returning to the farm?  The allure of the big city draws them in, they can work less and make more and have a lot less stress.  Farming/ranching has high input costs and just like the price of fuel they are going up exponentially.  For a young person trying to get a farming or ranching operation off the ground the costs are almost too overwhelming too overcome.

  There are currently about 210,000 full time farmers and ranchers in America. That is how many people walk through Walmarts doors every 21 minutes.   The population of America is over 300 million people.  It seems like there is always something on the news about the farmers receiving these big government subsidies.  The farm policies in this country actually only account for less than one quarter of 1% of the federal budget.

The whole point of this is when the topic comes up, we should be supporting the less than 1% of Americans that help feed the other 99% and help make it easier for young people to enter the farming and ranching business. Every time the politicians look at cutting the federal budget the old Farm Bill gets the ax taken to it. We should be supporting policies that help them and help hold the thin green line. 
Compared to other major agricultural producers around the globe, the U.S. ranks near the bottom of the subsidization and tariff scale.
  • The most profitable side of the food business is in processing and marketing, not the farmer’s share. In fact, for every dollar that consumers spend on food, farmers receive just 20 cents.
  • Of the $4.39 retail price of a box of cereal, farmers receive just 8 cents.
  • Of the $3.99 retail price of a bag of potato chips, farmers receive less than 10 cents.
I can't help but be passionate about these things since my Dad is a farmer and rancher and my husband wants nothing more than to have his own cow herd.  I try to keep politics out of my blog because it mostly bores me, so hopefully this did not bore you!

How close or how removed are you from the food chain?


  1. Interesting to look at the profitable side is the food processing - the stuff that we mostly don't need.

    I know I'm pretty removed from the food chain - except for the garden in my yard and the farmers markets we try to frequent.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. My mom grew up on a dairy farm, and that whole side of my family (and it's BIG) is very connected to farming, either directly or indirectly.

    This is something that we as a nation need to be WAY more aware of...

  3. I come from farming families on both sides of my family tree. My parents were both farmer's kids who left to go to the 'city' eventually.

    I spent lots of time on various relatives farms as a kid and loved it all - very hard workers and season-dependant.

    I think it is very important to support the 'hands that feed us'... very few people even grow their own vegetables anymore, let alone raise meat animals or have laying chickens.

    I think a lot of people don't have any idea where their food 'really' comes from.

    On a different note, way to go on the Barney Butter win on Miss Zippy1.

  4. Loved your post today. My husband is a full time farmer. It's so hard for a young man like you said that would like to start farming to even get started if they dont have someone in the farming business already. I have 2 boys and both of them are coming back to the farm, after college. Farming is a lot of hard work and very stressful. But we wouldnt want to live any other way.

  5. I love this post. So important to draw attention to the people who are GROWING our food--not the people processing/creating "food" that gets sold in packages in Wal Mart. Of course I am guilty of buying less than local products, but I think every step in the right direction is important.

  6. Very interesting. So true and somewhat scary for our futures.

    Good luck with the 3 days of body rock!!

  7. I don't think many people get "into" farming if it's not a family thing because it involves skills that can take years to master. It's not like learning Excel for an office job!

  8. I think you make some great points. If we supported farmers a bit more we also might be able to get more to return to traditional ways and healthier products, not those that the big food companies want to push our way. Heirloom produce and breeds/organic farming--all good for us but the farmers can't make much of a living off of it, sadly.

    On a happier note--you won my Barney Butter giveaway! Email me at and we'll hook you up!

  9. You know, I just finished reading a great book, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver, and it sort of touches on this subject in that most folks don't even know where their food comes from. It's so unfortunate that as a country we've gotten so far away from that. Personally, I try to support my local farmers as much as possible by purchasing directly from them or their products at the store because I think the quality is so much better.

  10. I have not watched in a few months. I might have to give it another go tonight!

    The whole farming thing is sad. I think too many developers have bought up prime farming land for new houses, new businesses ect. And a lot of farmers thought that it was easier to make a little bit of money by selling then to work the farm forever. Or I feel it is the case for my area in Idaho.

  11. My story is the same as Bobbi's above - my Mom was on a dairy farm growing up, and that whole side of the family is involved in farming. It was always a ton of fun going on family vacations to the farm every summer growing up, there was just so much to do there.

    How much farm subsidies to give is one of the toughest policy decisions. I really don't know what to suggest on that.

    Out here in CA, it seems like the huge corporate farms are taking over everything. They buy out all of the small family farms.

  12. I'm very removed from the farming food chain, but the topic comes up a lot in Boulder. We have a booming farmers' market and a lot of health conscious people. It's hard not to do at least some thinking about it.

    I agree with you that we need to do more to get young people interested in farming, but I'm not sure how. I have thought about putting my kids in 4H, but as a city girl I'm not sure what they could actually do. How can you learn that life if you can't live it? I really do want them to be more in touch than I the very least so that they can be self-sufficient if there's some huge crisis. (Maybe I've read too much science fiction.....)

  13. This is CRAZY. I watched Food, Inc. about a year ago and was so shocked. Thanks for the reminder!

  14. so i feel pretty removed from it all...i just dont think i know a lot about farming. but this just sounds terrible. i CAN appreciate how hard farmers work and they do it all with little recognition and little pay-off. that makes me incredibly sad!

  15. Is the picture in your header new? It's awesome! And this is an awesome post! I wish the article went more in depth into how much corporate farms produce. It's probably pretty substantial. I grew up in a small rural farming community and understand exactly what you're talking about. I'm sure farmers don't get as many subsidies because they don't have the lobbying power of many groups. They are good hard working Americans who have always figured out a way to get things done themselves. They don't have someone like the ACLU and others lobbying and arguing for them like every NON-WORKING bum in the inner-city. As a result, they are probably overlooked a lot. Plus, it seems like lately, the US has the mindset of it's easier to borrow and buy from other countries and continue to drive ourselves deeper and deeper into debt. Oops, I'm getting really political here - sorry! Great post though!

  16. I think if we had the money, Ryan would be a farmer! He's always been interested in his uncle's farm and keeps talking about it. But yes, it's way to much, not only for land but the equipment. Maybe someday he can have a little plot.

    I try to support the local farmer's markets as much as possible. And I've noticed the grocery stores here are starting to have a 'locally grown' section in the produce area. That's good. I keep hoping that a 'health' wave will start and everyone will want locally grown produce and meats and not want all the processed crap. Probably won't happen in my lifetime, but hopefully my kids!!

  17. Thanks for this post. I saw a bumper sticker that I loved the other day that said "Don't cuss a farmer or a trucker with your mouth full." How true is that? People who think they should get food for free/next to nothing really upset me. We need to pay for quality food because quality food costs money to produce.

    I used to be very far removed from the food chain and honestly, ignorance is bliss. But then I married a country boy who will be inheriting a massive farm his dad works now (on top of his full time job). There are pigs in the backyard right now that will soon become food and cows on the farm that feed my husbands immediate family. Breeding and selling cows essentially is my father in law's retirement plan. The farm is currently in a government program which is a huge help financially to the family. Farmers should be rewarded for their hard work. On the farm it's never a holiday or weekend. The horses, cows and pigs have to eat and drink everyday.

    Luckily FFA and 4H are HUGE in the teeny town I live in and a lot of the kids just sold their animals they cared for at the county fair.

  18. We have a local family owned grocery chain that buys local produce to sell in the stores. I am not sure what they get for each but I would hope it would be better than what bigger chains pay their farmers. We grow and catch a lot of our food back here since for many decades our families had to live off of the land to survive. We still do those things but we are able to supplement items from the grocery store. I share the same appeciation that goes into the growing and harvesting the food as you do. :)


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