Tag Archives: #farming

Facts, Not Fear, About Food

I hate to waste food, but to be perfectly honest, I do it anyway.  Throwing out spoiled fresh fruit and vegetables really bothers me, and even more so since touring pear, apple, cherry, and blueberry farms in Oregon’s Hood River Valley and seeing firsthand the effort it takes to produce safe and healthy food. After a few days in this beautiful part of the country, I have even more confidence in farmers, who manage a multitude of moving parts, including innovations that maximize crop yield and worker safety, to bring food to our tables. For the sake of all farmers, and for everyone else who eats, we need facts, not fear, about food.

Note: I was a guest of the Alliance for Food and Farming on this trip. The non-profit organization represents conventional and organic farmers.  

Apple trees with lots of fruit on them against a clear blue sky.

Apples reach for the clear blue sky in the Hood River Valley.

Farmers Grow Safe Food

I’ve been on several types of farm tours, and it concerns me when I hear people disparage farmers and their products, particularly fruits and vegetables.

Aren’t these gorgeous?

I don’t put any stock in reports about the so-called “dirtiest” fruits and vegetables. One highly-publicized yearly list of produce to avoid, which shall go nameless, talks about potential pesticide residues, but it does not  – and cannot – determine their health effects. Speaking of risk, a recent study that followed about 180,000 people for 14 years found that those who ate more of the fruits and vegetables that typically have the highest pesticide residues had no greater chance of developing cancer.

Check out this tool to calculate risk from pesticides. 

It’s likely that the risk of avoiding fruits and vegetables out of fear is far worse than eating conventionally-grown produce.  Eating patterns rich in fruit and vegetables are linked to a lower risk for several chronic conditions, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Farmers feed their families the food they grow, which speaks volumes about its safety.

Apples growing in the shadow of Mt. Hood.

Farmers are Jugglers

Farming takes creativity, hard work, and lots of planning. But growers can’t control the sunlight, rainfall, temperature, humidity, and insects that their crops are subjected to. In addition, farmers contend with labor shortages, as well as consumer demand for the products that they work so hard to grow.

Growing trees on a trellis (think Flat Stanley) is an innovation that improves crop yield and makes pruning and picking easier and safer. 

Weather is a huge piece of the farming puzzle, and it’s getting harder to deal with because of global warming. For example, this past June, temperatures soared and stayed excessively high for days on end, which reduced crop yields at harvest. Hearing one farmer discuss losing 40% of his apple crop to heat damage and another who estimated that the heat destroyed 30% of his blueberries made an impact on me.

Shriveled blueberries on a blueberry bush.

Excessive heat shriveled these blueberries and reduced the harvest. 

Large bin of fresh blueberries

I’m thankful that growers were able to protect most of the blueberry crop from the intense summer heat.

Farmers are Passionate and Resilient 

In spite of the many challenges of farming, growers remain passionate about their profession.  The vast majority of farms and ranches in the U.S. are family owned and operated. As stewards for future generations, farmers are deeply vested in the health of their land, as well as overall ecological wellbeing.  Many family farmers say it’s important to leave the land in better shape than they found it.

I was fortunate to see firsthand the care and commitment of farmers and farming companies. I can’t look at fresh, canned, or frozen fruit or vegetables now without thinking about all the work it took to grow, pack, and distribute them, which should never be taken for granted.














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