by guest blogger Bobbi Peterson from Living Life Green
The importance of food as a product is not up for debate or discussion. As one of the most important and fundamental economical products on the planet, the industry requires close management and care. Food production, on a global scale, gets handled by a handful of countries, and the United States of America is one. The others are China, India and Brazil, with the U.S. in third place regarding total output.
As one of the top three producers in the global food industry the U.S. has a vested interest in all aspects of the food industry. There are a multitude of external factors affecting food distribution and production, factors outside the control of the country’s farmers which include:
- Climate Change
- Demographic Shifts
- Emerging Power Markets
- Economic Trends
- New Trade Agreements
- World Population Growth
With elements such as these looming over the industry, it’s no surprise the controllable elements of the food industry are taken so seriously. Things like food safety, quality and sustainability are major concerns for consumers and farmers alike.
As more ranchers and farmers in the U.S. explore new, eco-friendly methods for food production more companies connected to the industry have begun to follow their lead. Creating product and tool options which help reduce the environmental impact has become it’s very own industry. For instance, the transportation of seed and grain across both the country and the world is being revolutionized by eco-friendly bulk bags.
Typically, seed, feed and grain are transported using single-use containers, after which these bags are dumped into landfills, adding to the disturbingly large collection of garbage dotting the country. Using reconditioned bulk bags keeps more trash from being added to these garbage heaps, but also reduces the cost of shipping and moving cereal crops.
The effects from how we grow, store and transport our food is a serious issue. According to the CDC, 1 in 6 Americans get sick from contaminated foods, with 3,000 dying each year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates a cost of $15.6 billion in foodborne illnesses alone every year as well. As the U.S. is third in food distribution on the global market, these statistics only increase in number and affect.
With the increasing rise in the global population, crops and livestock demands increase on all five of the major countries. Alternatives such as underwater farming, 3D ocean farms and “aquaculture” innovations are positive steps in the right direction in terms of meeting the global food needs. But the best solution for the U.S. in terms of food safety and health is for consumers, stores and restaurants to support local farms and ranches with their patronage.
We can increase the demand for locally grown crops and livestock by adapting our diets to seasonal harvests. By reducing the use of chemical pesticides and steroids we can reduce many harmful factors of the food industry.
The less travel time our food requires before it ends up in our homes and on our plates will reduce health risks and harmful environmental factors. Remember, travel produces its own kind of pollution, whether it’s by train, plane, ship or automobile. If our food continually requires several modes of transportation before arrival, we constantly add to the pollution in the air and sea.
Buying locally will also provide an economical benefit as well, since local farmers, fishermen and ranchers will remain in business without requiring mass production and shipment of their goods to far off locations. Through the economical savings and benefits from buying and producing food locally, investments in new and alternative methods and technologies will be possible and available.
Simply put, one change in this particular industry will lead to many other improvements for the environment and the economy.
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