The New food labeling laws on foods in our very own grocery stores, has been a controversial topic consisting of a lot of positives and negatives. Starting with the pros consumers are able to more openly narrow down their purchasing decisions with their actual preference and food quality. They are basically able to group the foods they find important a lot more efficiently. Not only is it good for the consumer, but is also good for the industry as it gives new companies different ways of getting higher prices in the industry. Nutrition labels globally haven’t been refreshed since 2006, so it’s better to be more precise on the current status/information of what we consumers are putting into our body. Just like most things along with the pros, comes cons. Food labels have the tendency to sound like they have a positive impact, but in reality have a negative one. These misinterpretations on the food labels have become a huge problem and factor in this debate. Research has been conducted showing that a lot of worry is being placed into the market that doesn’t have any scientific based evidence or facts. So as you can see it really depends on the person on whether or not you find the new food labeling laws a productive or regressive thing.
This past saturday’s field trip to the UD Research Farm was extraordinary! I felt that out of all the great field trips attended this semester, that this one had the most intriguing and ample amount of information. The University of Delaware farm superintendent Scott Hopkins was awesome, as he gave me a great experience and tour of the research farm.
We got to experience the Milking Parlor and learned that the most challenging animal to maintain were the dairy cows. It was awesome for Scott to really give us hands on information about this process and describe the manual labor of cows, on how to milk them, and feed them daily. These cows were segregated by age from calves, to 1-2 years of age, to the adults.
We also learned the value of sheep, and how they’re a very productive industry that really can help farmer’s income. I learned that sheep meat has become more and more popular as it’s viewed as a classy and great tasting meat. These sheep are also a great source for making wool and using it to make various kinds of clothing.
This tour consisted of not just the dairy operation, but we saw beef, sheep, and equine facilities. This facility was in great condition and is a superb environment for students to get hands on experience with the industry! We also learned that Scott’s most memorable and favorite research extensive program was the forage research project. Finally at the end of the Tour we got to eat fresh dairy products at the ice cream shop to end what was an astonishing experience that i will never forget.
At the Oxford farming Conference in 2013 Mark Lyna’s speech was very persuasive and interesting. From the beginning Mark was Anti GMO, he felt that it was unnecessary and not right to put genes into our food supply. He concluded that it was unnatural! Ironically after conducting further into the topic, Mark made a complete change in his perspective to pro GMO due to a plentitude of different reasons. Felt that politicians painted a perception of GMO as the Frankenstein of the Industry, it turns out that the “Frankenstein” wasn’t the GMO but our reaction to something new. Evidence has consistently proven that GMO is safe and inflicts minimal damage to crops. In a crucial time where we as a country need to feed approximately 9.5 billion people by 2050, we need to accept the new advancements in technology and use it to our advantage! We as a nation simply need to produce food and GMO can be a major contributor to ending a lot of starved impoverished citizens. The only problem seems to be the politicians as they are delaying this technology and not letting it progress, this is in my opinion is a huge mistake. GMO has so many positive attributes to it as it proves to increase crop yield, nutrient levels, and drought resistance! It also is believed to be the only form of technology that can reduce nitrogen pollution! So as you can see the positive attributes definitely outweigh the negatives, and the main goal is to make sure we keep our nation fed!
Iowa and California are two giants, and rightfully so as these two are the top two in Agriculture production and value! In this Guest Lecture I learned an array of new topics and information! Starting first with the Hawkeye state, believe it or not 85% of Iowa’s land mass is used for Agriculture! Iowa’s superb moisture holding soil make it a prime state for growing a lot of corn, although this is the main crop grown, Iowa also produces a lot of soybeans, Pork, and Beef as this is 92% of Iowa’s cash farm income! One of the Most surprising facts I found from this state was that it’s the leading egg producer in the entire nation, producing roughly 968 million dozen eggs! Now on to the Golden state, California is the 3rd largest state in the entire country producing approximately $47 billion in Agriculture sales! While Iowa’s Agriculture production is all about their soil, California’s is all about their water, as it is adjacent to the coast and contains many mountain ranges and springs! California’s most abundant crop next to rice has to be the Tomato, as 95% of our tomatoes come from Cali! California’s farms have a relatively dry climate, although this doesn’t seem like a positive attribute, dry climate equates to less chance of disease for the crops! Although it’s a relatively dry climate towards the center of the state, studies that have been conducted have shown that slowly more and more water has been produced each year! This has helped greatly as the pumping stations found by the mountains have been able to pump out more water effectively and efficiently! So as you can see these two Agricultural Giants have tremendous production and have a lot to offer to the rest of the states in our nation!
My experience at Fifer Orchards was superb! From the minute I gazed upon the farm I knew I was in for a treat! The diversity of crops of fruits, vegetables, and how they’re treated was simply impressive, in today’s era Fifer Orchard’s harvest has produced strawberries, 27 varieties of apples, 36 varieties of peach, blueberries, nectarines, plums, cherries, sweet corn, asparagus, etc. Sweet corn has been the most dominant production, and can either be harvested or machine harvested. Sweet corn is the only crop that is machine harvested on the farm! The most intriguing part about this farm is it’s not just a farm, but a fantastic fresh market with an unbelievable amount of different kinds of foods for the customers. The market has anything from fresh hand- picked apples to hand dipped ice cream and apple cider slushies. What also separates this farm from many others on Delmarva is the Community Supported Agriculture Club, also called the Delmarva box. This club consists of a weekly box with a variety of fruits and vegetables for 18 weeks straight. This helps reach the attainable goal of no waste from any of the produce! So clearly Fifer orchards is a top tier produce farm, and I really am intrigued and look forward to visiting again as there is much more to learn!
Unexpectedly I did not know that Delaware’s Agriculture Industry supports 1/3 of the population within an 8 hour span. We should think of our Agriculture industry as a “Food Shed” for the eastern United States. Delaware is made up of 2,500 farms, 41% of Delaware’s land mass is in farmland! Although Delaware has a lot of farms, the number of farms has decreased substantially since 1950 due to the increase in housing and other businesses. All farmers rely on a budget called the Farm Bill this consists of nutrition, crop insurance, conservation, commodity support, etc. All of these elements come in to play when farming, and can make profiting difficult. There also some benefits that help profit substantially, the U.S. Crop insurance covers 62% of a farmer’s insurance while the farmer has to only pay 38% of that insurance. This helps reassure the crop grower in case anything drastically bad were to happen to their crops, that they are insured and covered! The most surprising fact that I learned was that 95% of farms are family owned! So as you can see The Delaware Agriculture Industry has a lot of Intriguing facts and information that make it one of the most productive industries not just in Delaware, but in our whole nation!
My Field Trip to the Poultry Farm in Dover went fantastic, as I got a real life hands on experience! Interestingly before we could even get into one of the indoor houses we had to wear a suit, this is a must so there’s no chance of contaminating one of the chickens with a virus or various type of disease. This showed me how difficult the industry is; as you have to make sure that everything goes accordingly (No room for errors)! The three species of birds that Georgie grows are Cornish, Broilers, and Roasters. There are four Chicken houses each house holding approximately 37,000 birds per house, this makes up to approximately 148,000 birds on the farm! Georgie makes sure that almost all the birds survive as she has been in this Business for 11 years! I learned that for every 1 job in the Poultry Industry it creates 7 jobs in the community! I also learned that although the industry has a lot of positive attributes, like anything else there are always negatives that come with the positives. The downsides are the maintenance, cost/budgeting, and the marketing, although it is possible for this not be a factor if you work to the hardest of your ability! Finally I’ve come to the conclusion that the Poultry Industry is like most industries where you get what you put into it, work hard and anything is attainable!