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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Every Day is Food Day

As published in the Emporia Gazette, Friday, October 21
from Kiley Stinson, Allen, KS

You may have heard that October 24 has been designated as Food Day. To my family and many other farming and ranching families, Food Day just so happens to be every day. I feel honored to be among the less than two percent of the population who are dedicated to producing safe, wholesome and affordable food for America’s families.

Although statistics show most of us are fortunate to spend just less than ten percent of our disposable income on our food, we shouldn’t forget that one in eight Americans has trouble getting enough to eat. The demand for safe, affordable food will only increase as our population grows worldwide — I am confident that American farmers will rise to this challenge, if we let them.

Modern food production relies on a mix of technological innovation and tradition. There is a reason why agriculture looks the way it does today. The average American is now at least three generations removed from the farm and most of us are dependent on grocery stores to supply almost all of our food needs. This disconnect has led to many misconceptions about today’s farms. Too often, the public hears more from agriculture critics than from the people directly connected to it. No, our industry is not perfect; but whether it is food safety or environmental stewardship, American agriculture has shown a commitment to continuous improvement.

Let’s use Food Day to celebrate the diversity of American agriculture. Americans enjoy an abundance of choices in the supermarket. That is worth celebrating! While we should enjoy and appreciate the taste of fresh seasonal products from our local farmers market, we can’t afford to deny the importance of large scale producers who provide the volume of what we rely on in the grocery store. In many ways, agriculture is the backbone of our nation. We must protect it.

On October 24, take this opportunity to learn more about your food straight from the people who understand how it is produced best: farmers and ranchers.