Tonic_Logo-1024×181.png)”Love yourself enough to live a healthy lifestyle.”
– Jules Robson
_The Daily Tonic is a two to five minute read sharing science backed
health news and tips, all while getting you to crack a smile or even_ lol on occasion.
Monday. They say age is just a number–but at what point is that numberjust a bit too high for the farmers responsible for growing and producing ourfood? Farmers in the U.S are getting old and it seems millennials are too busycounting their participation trophies to want to roll up their sleeves and getinto farming. Why does any of that matter? Let’s dive in.
How Old Is Too Old?
One-third of America’s 3.4 million farmers are over the age of65. Isn’tthat supposed to be the age when you retire? Oh, and nearly a million more ofthem are within a decade of that milestone, according to the last Census ofAgriculture back in 2017. So all this begs the question–who will feed Americain the future? Robots, hydroponic vertical farms, and cell-based meat? Thatsounds like a bad Black Mirror episode, so let’s hope not. Based on Censusdata, U.S. agriculture is increasingly divided into two groups–a large numberof small farms that produce a small portion of the nation’s food, and a smallnumber (fewer than 80,000) of big operations that generate two-thirds of farmproduction. Meanwhile, the number of medium-sized farms is quickly shrinking.So what’s going on here? Well, the supervillains of the story–big food,government subsidies, Monsanto–have made conventional farming a tough businessto succeed in. Many farmers are not making enough money and have effectivelybecome trapped by a system that consistently encourages them to invest incostly inputs (synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, etc) in order toproduce food out of depleted soil. These inputs then deplete the soil evenfurther, digging farmers into a deeper hole that is tough to get out of. So itis no surprise that the generation following our existing group of farmers hasno interest in getting into the family business. If I grew up watching myparents struggle to keep their farm afloat, all while committing to the daily,hard work that is farming, I wouldn’t have any interest in picking up themantle either. There is some good news though. According to the same Censusdata, the number of beginner farmers is on the rise. The U.S has 908,274producers who identify as beginning farmers, which accounts for 27% of thecountry’s 3.4 million producers. How old are these new farmers? The averageage of a beginning farmer is 46.3, much younger than the average age of allfarmers. Diving a bit deeper into the data, 26% of beginning farmers areunder the age of 35, a group that represents only 8% of all U.S. farmers overall.So bringing us back to how this all relates to our health and the future ofour food system–we need more young people in agriculture. We can all agreethat conventional farming practices are ruining our health and the health ofthe planet. So how do we change that system? There is no easy answer, butgetting a new generation of people into farming that are passionate abouthealth and the environment seems a lot more promising than convincing a 65year old farmer to take a chance and change everything they’ve been doing fordecades. A change towards regenerative agriculture depends on a new generationstepping in and leading from the front. This article asks the question–areyoung farmers the new starvingartists? Theanswer–no. Young farmers have the potential to be so much more.
Speaking of Villains and Cyberattacks…
Tom Vilsack is the U.S Secretary of Agriculture. Is he one of the villains ofour food system? Ehh… I’ll let you be the judge of that, but let’s put it thisway–the guy isn’t going to be encouraging you to eat local or shopregenerative anytime soon. Anyway, as a brief follow up to the recentcyberattacks that have hit our food production system and supply chain, thisis what Mr. Vilsack had to say. The video is only a minute long but I will summarize andsave you the click and the boredom of watching policy makers speak words,while saying nothing of substance. Vilsack’s plan is to have the governmentstep in to help protect big food from cyberattacks. Dear Mr. Vilsack, Here’ssome unsolicited policy advice to prevent future cyberattacks–don’t allow ourfood production system to become so centralized that it is made up of just afew big corporations that are solely focused on maximizing production overanything else. This makes them vulnerable targets and it hamstrings theirability to be agile in case of a crisis. Sincerely, The Daily Tonic
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Health isn’t just about _ food, movement, and mindset . It is alsoabout the_ _ interactions _we have and what we _ share with our fellowhumans._
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