Nutritionally Balanced Farming? – Katie Myers-Griffith

2011 Food "Plate"

For the few or many of you whom have read my past blog
posts, you know that my nerdy passion is land use.  I often contemplate the relationships between
farming, food, and land use.  I recently discovered
another tool that we could use in projecting farming opportunities; the food
pyramid (or now the food plate).

In the local food movement we often state that we need more
farmers!  We don’t have enough farmers to
even meet the demand.  This is true.  In order to train up a new generation of
farmers we offer classes and workshops and we are attempting to infiltrate the
school systems with farm to school programs – all needed and beneficial
actions.  However, I wondered what it would look like; if instead meeting the demand we looked at the food pyramid
and met the nutritional guidelines.   How would this change our classes, workshops, and infiltration?

I know, as an active farming community member, that we really don’t need more dairy goat farms in the area.  The market is almost saturated.  The local goat cheese artisans tell me that there are too many.  Beginning farmers don’t have that inside information.  So, I propose looking at the nutritional guidelines to assist you in the future
planning of your farm business.   Obviously, the first step is a great deal of self assessment, but after
that look at the plate and decide where would you as a producer like to fit into that plate?  As you can see, dairy is a very small portion of the daily intake guideline ~ hence the need for fewer goat dairies.  However, I also know that we are in need of more produce growers and those that are growing interesting foods.  Look at the plate again;  half of your daily intake should be in fruits or vegetables.  Without even knowing that we need more produce growers, I can look at the plate and decide produce would probably be economically beneficial choice.  If we were eating what we are supposed to eat for a healthy lifestyle we are going to
want a variety of fruits and vegetable to meet our needs.  Proteins and grains can be put through the same scenarios.

So, I took the liberty of making a few projections based on population data, what we SHOULD be eating and what this could look like for agricultural operations.

Example

Population of Shreve, Ohio (my town) = 1,598[1]

Daily Servings of Vegetables recommended per person = 4 cups[2]

Daily servings (4) x Population (1,598) = 6,392 cups of fruits and vegetables per day

Daily total (6,392) x Days in Year (365) = 2,333,080 cups of fruits and vegetables per year.

Using two cooking conversion charts[3], I can assume 4 medium apples are equal to 4 cups and 4 cups are equal to about
1 pound.  So just using apples as the sole source of the fruit and veggie portion; the town of Shreve could
potentially consume 583,270 pounds of apples per year!  Let’s cut that in half, and assume every person in Shreve, Ohio is eating 2 cups of apples everyday (see the need for variety?)

The need = 291,635 pounds of apples.  According to the Northeast Ohio Agricultural Atlas, 1 acre of apple trees has the potential to produce 13,146 pounds of apples per year.  Therefore, we need approximately 22 acres of apple trees to feed the very small village of Shreve 2 cups of apples per day per person.  What would this look like for the City of Cleveland or the City of Akron?

To feed the village of Shreve 2 cups of apples per day, we
need 22 acres of apple trees.  In Northeast Ohio, we currently have 2,261 acres of apple trees.  Rough number estimates tell me that in order to feed Northeast Ohio 2 cups of apples per day we need 116,674 acres of apple
trees.  If we cut that portion to a .5 cup of apples per person per day we would still need 29,169 acres of apple trees.

Now to the land use question…where in Ohio do we have an additional 26,908 acres of land available and suitable for apple trees?    Where in Ohio do we have the training capacity to teach beginning farmers to plant,
prune, manage and harvest apple trees?   These questions are posed as opportunities knocking!

Now…onto the other 3 food groups!


[1]
According the US Census Bureau

[2]
The newest nutritional guidelines don’t offer blanket serving sizes.  This figure is reflective of what the
author’s intake should be.  An
interactive tool to determine your personal intake level is available at http://www.choosemyplate.gov/tools.html

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