In our ever-industrializing world, consumers are moving further and further away from their source of food. To many people, this increasing distance is relatively unimportant as long as the source of food remains consistent. To most Americans, however, this apparent food source is primarily grocery stores and supermarkets that offer everything pre-packaged and processed, both easily located and obtained. Although people know that the food products found in the supermarket are grown on farms, their only contact with said farms is in the grocery stores where the consumer’s primary focus is typically on price and availability.
Distancing themselves from actual farms and farmers, however, poses a number of dangerous consequences for both the farmers who supply the food and the consumers themselves. Bridging the gap between our food sources and consumers is thus a necessity in our current world, and this is only going to be possible through the continued improvement of agricultural education. Agricultural education benefits consumers, farmers, and the environment as it increases both knowledge and awareness of current agricultural problems, practices, and potential advantages.
By improving agricultural education, more consumers will be able to identify and purchase food that is not only healthy and nutritious but also grown with environmental considerations in mind. Most consumers today pay less attention to the labels and ingredients and more to the price. This is an understandable consideration, but it fails to take into account the environmental and social price that cannot be seen with the mere purchase of a cheaper product in the supermarket.
Although some companies can provide food products at a lower cost, they do so at the expense of the environment and, in some cases, the health of their farmworkers. Larger corporations often utilize heavy amounts of pesticides and fertilizers which can have detrimental health effects on both the consumer and the worker administering the chemicals. Overuse of these pesticides and fertilizers can also negatively impact the natural environment by increasing soil degradation and leading to a rise in more resistant pest species and disease strains. If consumers are educated on these practices and the companies who utilize them, they can make smarter choices in regards to their food purchases, benefitting both their own health as well as the environment. Conscientious consumers also benefit farmers who do choose to grow their products sustainably or organically.
Agricultural education enables farmers to better their farms through the implementation of more sustainable practices and economically viable alternatives to conventional agriculture. As our world develops, technology develops along with it. Most American farmers, however, have fallen behind in keeping up with the spread and application of these technological and mechanical advancements. Agricultural education resolves this issue by making the knowledge and resources necessary to improve modern agriculture accessible to more farmers, thus allowing for the increased use of innovations in agriculture like newly-developed sustainable practices.
Farmers can implement these methods to promote a variety of sustainable issues such as soil health, water conservation, pesticide and herbicide use, and pollution. These practices can in turn increase productivity without threatening food quality or having a negative environmental impact, thereby helping farmers remain economically stable while promoting safe food production.
While improved agricultural education has a number of benefits for consumers and farmers, one of the best ways to bring people closer to their food source is by growing their own food. Another key benefit of agricultural education is that it can enable people to grow their own food in their homes or yards. By growing their own food, more people will see firsthand the benefits of fresh produce and growing something by their own effort.
They will additionally understand the difficulties and hardships that can arise when growing food that most people are unaware of unless they have worked directly on a farm themselves. Better understanding the difficulties of growing food can also lead to greater respect and appreciation for farmers which will in turn lead to even more conscientious consumers when it comes to their next grocery store purchase.
Agricultural education is a necessity in our world today, especially when considering our rapidly growing population and dwindling natural resources and land space. Thus, it is incredibly important that we continue to raise awareness of agricultural issues in the world today and take advantage of opportunities to learn more and continue educating ourselves. The closer we are to our food source, the better prepared we can be to make smart choices and protect our farmers and the environment.