By Jenna Gallegos –
Most of us don’t spend our days plowing fields or wrangling cattle. We’re part of the 99 percent of Americans who eat food, but don’t produce it. Because of our intimate relationship with food, and because it’s so crucial to our health and the environment, people should be very concerned about how it’s produced. But we don’t always get it right. Next time you’re at the grocery store, consider these 10 modern myths about the most ancient occupation.
1. Most farms are corporate-owned
This myth is probably the most pervasive on the list. It is also the furthest off-base. Nearly 99 percent of U.S. farms are family-owned. The vast majority of these are small family farms, but the bulk of our food comes from large family farms.
2. Food is expensive
Americans spend a considerably smaller percentage of their income on food than they did in the 1960s. Americans also spend among the least amount worldwide on food as a percent of income. We spend less of our money on food than people in many other developed nations.
Between 10 and 20 percent of the cost of food actually reaches the farmer. That means when commodity prices rise or fall, food costs remain relatively constant, buffering consumers from spikes in their grocery bills.
That’s not to say that food isn’t difficult for some American households to afford, and nutrition and obesity experts worry about the relatively high cost of nutrient-rich versus calorie-dense foods.
3. Farming is traditional and low tech
Self-driving cars are still out of reach for consumers, but tractors have been driving themselves around farms for years. And driving tractors isn’t the only role GPS plays on a farm. Farmers collect geospatial data to monitor variations across a field in soil type, water and nutrient use, temperature, crop yield and more. The average farmer on Farmer’s Business Network, a social media-like platform for farm analytics, collects about four million data points every year. Artificial intelligence helps sort through all this data and maximize performance within a field down to the square meter.