The news is grim. During the past 30 years, much of America’s most fertile farm and ranch lands has been lost to development. The visible signs of a changing landscape can be seen as fields fade beneath sprouting homes and acres of pavement. According to the National Resources Inventory, more than 23 million acres of America’s agricultural land have been lost to urban expansion.
No state in the U.S. has been left untouched, and 38 percent of the agricultural land developed nationwide was prime — land that is best suited to produce food and other agricultural crops.
But during National Agriculture Week, we should talk some fun facts and newsy food bites that you can mention during dinner to impress your family and friends.
Did you know:
■ Raising beef cattle is the largest segment of American agriculture. The U.S. supplies 25 percent of the world’s beef with 10 percent of the world’s cattle.
■ There are more than 40 breeds of sheep in the U.S. and about 900 breeds around the world.
■ Six classes bring order to the thousands of varieties of wheat. They are hard red winter, hard red spring, soft red winter, durum, hard white and soft white.
■ The average milk cow produces 90 glasses of milk each day or about 200,000 glasses of milk in a cow’s lifetime.
■ Americans eat about 100 acres of pizza each day or 350 slices per second.
■ 6.2 billion gallons of beer are produced annually in the U.S. This requires 4.7 billion pounds of barley malt from 5.9 million pounds of barley
■ Americans consume
17.3 billion quarts of popped corn each year.
■ There are about 7,000 cherries on an average tart cherry tree. It takes about 250 cherries to make a cherry pie, so each tree could produce enough cherries for 28 pies.
■ Americans eat about 30 pounds of lettuce every year.
■ More than 200 million pounds of blueberries are grown every year in North America. Blueberries first are picked by hand to gather the best of the early fruit.
■ It takes 24 to 26 hours for a hen to produce an egg. There is 30 minutes between each egg-producing cycle.
■ There are more than 500 types of bananas.
■ Last year, 1.3 million pounds of pasta were sold in American grocery stores. If you lined up 1.3 million pounds of 16-ounce spaghetti packages, it would circle the Earth’s equator almost nine times.
■ Apples are a member of the rose family.
■ Asparagus is a member of the lily family.
■ People today eat 900 percent more broccoli than they did 20 years ago.
In the United States, we take the quantity and quality of our food for granted. But if you eat, drink or wear clothing, it is because someone has worked hard to produce a commodity.
In the Yampa Valley, all of us know a rancher or a farmer. Pick your favorite one and call him or her to say, “Thanks.”
Daughenbaugh is executive director of the Community Agriculture Alliance.