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What percentage of our farmland do you think is used to grow fruits and vegetables?

It's only 2%... and people wonder why fruits and veggies are not a bigger part of the American diet.

#food #health #subsidies
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Gene Homicki's profile photoCarolyn Luce's profile photo
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I suspect it's quite possible that with 2% of farmland used to grow fruit and vegetables, we could meet the recommendation of such being half of what we eat each day. "Compared with soybean production, land requirements are roughly a factor 6–17 larger for meat protein production."
Ref: http://www.ajcn.org/content/78/3/664S.full

I'd probably eat more fruit if they didn't spoil so easily. But yes, the corn subsidy makes it cheaper to buy corn-based food rather than fruits and vegetables, and relative prices drive demand, and demand drives land usage.

I wouldn't be surprised if half my fruits and vegetables come from Mexico.
 
I eat a good amount of veggies, especially fresh (I have health incentives to) and I also live about a block from a weekly farmers market, and have 2 grocery stores within 4 blocks -- all which makes it a bit more convenient for me to be able to pick up fresh veggies regularly.

It still does take more planning to eat them, and there are certainly weeks where even with the advantages I have, some still do go bad and I end up not eating as much of them as I should.
 
This 2% number made me wonder what the other 98% was, so I found a pie chart at
http://www.soystats.com/2012/page_04.htm
35% corn, 21% wheat, 29% soybeans.

But soybeans are considered as vegetables in that USDA recommendation.
http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/vegetables.html

So, if what we ate were driven by what was planted, then 29% of our diet would be soybeans. But it's not. Soybeans are grown the meet demand, which appears to be about half export, mainly to asian countries. Most of what is not exported goes to animal feed. Some goes to biodiesel, and much of the part we actually eat goes into the fats and oils in our processed foods. We could have 29% edamame as our diet in the vegetable group, but we choose not to. I sometimes have edamame in my freezer, which is one nice way to keep vegetables with their vitamins intact.


The soybean subsidy in 2011 was half a billion dollars, compared with $2.0 billion for corn and $1.4 billion for wheat according to page 5 of http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/43053_USDAMandatoryFarmPrograms.pdf

And now food competes with fuel for land. "In the year ending Aug. 31, about 40 percent of the corn crop will be used to produce ethanol, the USDA predicts." according to http://farmlandforecast.colvin-co.com/2011/03/30/rising-corn-acreage-failing-to-meet-us-feed-ethanol-use.aspx
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