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Opinion

Community invited to attend Ag Day on campus

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April 18, 2013

There are many people in our nation who do not know or understand where their food comes from. Due to the way the industry operates today, it is not uncommon to hear someone say, “I get my food from the grocery store.” This lack of knowledge about the source of our food is dangerous to society. It is important for citizens to be informed about where their food is coming from.

Agriculture has undergone many changes throughout the years. Two-hundred years ago, 90 percent of the United States’ population lived on farms and produced their own food to eat. Today, only about 2 percent of the U.S. population produces food for everyone to eat. This change seems upside down when one analyzes the trend in population growth.

Currently, there are about 7 billion people living on our planet. This number is expected to reach 9 billion by the year 2050.

There are fewer people in the U.S. involved in production agriculture. The agriculture industry has responded to this immense population growth through the implementation of major technological advancements. These advancements have allowed the industry to produce enough food to feed the ever-growing number of people in the world. While these advancements have greatly improved production rates, they have distanced consumers from their local producers.

There are far more “middle men” involved in the distribution process than ever before to ensure that consumers have enough food available to them. The food that is produced by local farmers is sent to local processing plants to add value to the products. Grocery stores order food from these processing plants. When a grocery store orders this food, it is delivered and put on shelves for consumers to purchase.

The evolution of this complex process means that consumers rarely have face-to-face interactions with their local producers like they once did in the past. However, it is unrealistic for consumers to expect farming to go back to “the way it used to be.” If producers were to grow food in the same manner they did 200 years ago, people would be starving left and right. As consumers, we are responsible for learning and understanding where our food comes from.

One way to take initiative in this learning process is by attending the first annual Ag. Day on campus. This event will take place on Thursday, April 25. There will be a variety of events taking place throughout the day to inform students, faculty, and the community members about agriculture.

From 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. there will be booths set up along the University Center mall featuring 14 student organizations from the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. In addition, eight businesses will be coming to campus to further educate students about agriculture.

Each booth will feature something different that is designed to support a general understanding of agriculture. The booths will be diverse and cover a wide range of agricultural elements, so there will be something for everyone to enjoy. Many of the booths will have animals, free food, interactive activities and more.

Dairy Club will be bringing calves to campus for students to view and pet. In addition, they will share facts about the dairy industry, have a cow to milk and offer free root beer floats. Similarly, the Poultry Club will be bringing chickens to campus for a portion of their booth.

Another booth run by the men of Alpha Gamma Rho will revolve around the theme “Rethink Your Drink.” They will provide students with nutritional information about popular beverages and offer free milk. The Crops and Soils booth will be serving “dirt cups” while providing information about soil.

At 6 p.m., everyone is invited to enjoy a free meal served by the UWRF Collegiate Farm Bureau in the Agricultural Science building on campus. There will be pork sandwiches, hamburgers, chips, cookies, milk, and many other local foods. After dinner at 7 p.m., Charlie Arnot, CEO of Center for Food Integrity, will be speaking in the Agricultural Science building in room 200. Arnot will be discussing the topic of “Building Trust in Today’s Food Systems.”

The ultimate goal of Ag. Day on campus is to educate the River Falls community about various elements of agriculture. In the society we live in today, it is vital for consumers to take it upon themselves to learn about where their food comes from. Attending Ag. Day on campus is a great way to take the first step in this process.

Morgan Stippel is a political science major and a professional writing minor. When she graduates from UW-River Falls, she wants to become a state prosecutor and specialize in domestic violence cases.