Quinn on Nutrition: Agriculture workers deserve our support

Keeping animals and crops and fields healthy and productive is a job that’s done by less than 2% of Americans.

  • By Wire Service
  • Wednesday, October 27, 2021 1:30am
  • Life

We were having breakfast at a hotel in eastern Colorado when the manager decided to give us his opinions on the state of the world. And he was very vocal about what needed to change in his community in particular.

“You know,” he said, “Like it or not, agriculture is going belly up.”

I didn’t say it at the time — my mouth was full of Raisin Bran — but I sure hope he’s wrong. Besides that our trips to the grocery store would be extremely disappointing if there were no farmers or ranchers to produce our food, a whole host of other products would also be sorely missed.

I thought more about this as we headed into west Texas and drove past acres and 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 to learn that the dried stalks left after cotton is harvested can be used to produce paper and cardboard. I’d sure not want to live in a world without this valuable crop.

If animal agriculture went “belly up,” as this gentleman predicted, we’d also be missing much more than milk, eggs, cheese and meat. Leather for shoes, purses, upholstery and footballs are made from cowhide, for example. Tennis racket strings and surgical sutures also come from cattle, as well as various medications such as heparin (an anticoagulant drug) and the ingredients for anti-rejection drugs needed by transplant patients.

And what do crayons, candles, dish soap, deodorant and tires have in common? They all are made with beef byproducts, according to the Arizona Beef Council.

Corn is another versatile crop. Products derived from corn include fresh corn, popcorn, corn meal, corn starch, corn syrup and corn oil. And don’t forget ethanol, a fuel produced with corn.

As we look for more and more ways to sustain our world for the long term, here’s some good news from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2011, a bushel of corn was produced with 40% less land, 40% less energy, 50% less water, 60% less soil erosion and 35% fewer greenhouse gases than in 1980. We can thank improved technology and stewardship of farmers and ranchers for that.

As we drove from one agricultural community to the other, I came to realize what a big job it is to keep animals and crops and fields healthy and productive. And that job is done by less than 2% of our American population, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. I’d say they deserve our support.

Barbara Quinn-Intermill is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and the author of “QuinnEssential Nutrition.” Email her at barbara@quinnessentialnutrition.com.

Talk to us

More in Life

Washington’s most beloved state park turns 100

Deception Pass State Park, which draws as many visitors as the best-known national parks in the U.S., celebrates a century of recreation and conservation

Hydrangea and rose
July checklist for Snohomish County gardeners

After a slow start to summer, things should take off this month. So keep planting and nurturing.

Caption: The 12 week Edmonds Community Police Academy was a free opportunity for private citizens to learn about law enforcement.
An inside look at how law enforcement works

A pregnant mother. A man who rescues abused horses and donkeys. A… Continue reading

Kid 'n Play members Christopher "Kid" Reid, left, and Christopher "Play" Martin perform on NBC's "Today" show during the "I Love The 90's" morning concert at Rockefeller Plaza on Friday, April 29, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Relive the music of the 1990s with Kid N Play and other stars of the era at the Tulalip Casino Amphitheater.

So-called relaxing summer vacations can wear you out

To truly enjoy a family getaway, tone down your expectations. Everything won’t be picture-perfect.

Gimmelwald, built in an avalanche zone, yet specializing in alpine tranquility.
Roaming the Alps brings cultural insights along with the views

The Swiss have great respect for Alpine traditions and culture — and contempt for tourists who disrespect both.

Will TripMate cover costs for trip canceled for medical reasons?

After Stanley Wales cancels his diving trip to Bonaire, he files a travel insurance claim with TripMate. What’s taking them so long to respond?

Contestant chef Brian Madayag (left) of Edmonds and West Coast team captain Brooke Williamson on “Beachside Brawl.” (Food Network) 20220616
Edmonds chef reps Pacific Northwest on new Food Network show

Barkada owner Brian Madayaga will compete on a new Food Network series that premiers Sunday.

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Kosteri’ (Richie Steffen)
Great Plant Pick: Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Kosteri’

This Hinoki cypress is graceful and beautiful, and is very drought-tolerant once established.

Most Read