Wednesday, February 11, 2009

From NYT: A farming story, in numbers

If you've ever pondered a more simple existence, moving to the country and growing your own food, you're not alone. Just don't quit your day job.

On Sunday, the NY Times ran a story "Farm Living (Subsidized by a Job Elsewhere)," publishing figures that support this trend. From 2002 to 2007, the total number of farms increased (4 percent), as did the number of farmers reporting an additional income (65 percent). There were also loads of other interesting stories in the numbers, some good some sad.

Encouraging signs:
  • The number of organic farms increased by 50 percent from 2002 to 2007
  • American farmers are becoming more diverse - female farmers increased 30 percent and Hispanic farmers increased 10 percent from 2002 to 2007
Yet, it's clear there is also another story in this article - farming is a tough business:
  • Of our nation's 2.2 million farms, 900,000 reported income of less than $2,500
  • 5 percent of our total farms produce 75 percent of our agricultural output
  • The average farmer is 57 years old!
I think it is essential that we support our small farmers. For anyone who's shopped at a farmers market, it is clear that they bring more than better tasting fruits and vegetables to the table. They also foster a sense of community. I literally think New Yorkers who take up arms if the city ever threatened to close down the Union Square Greenmarket.

Small farmers are also stewards of our agricultural traditions and heirloom varieties. As someone who use to work for a large food company, I am certain the possibility of 'one tomato to feed them all' is highly possibly if we let the suits takeover. Let's not forget the potato famine in Ireland was caused by growing only one strain of potato.

I support my local farmer by buying from local Greenmarkets, the Park Slope Food Co-op, and my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Anyone else feel strongly about the need to support our local farmers? What else can we do to support them?

1 comment:

Swati said...

I was just thinking yesterday how nice it would be to own a small farm upstate, while still keeping our apartment in Brooklyn.

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