A Kid's Guide to Agriculture
When you see an apple or a slice of ham on the breakfast table, do you wonder where it comes from? These are agricultural products but what exactly is agriculture? Agriculture is the production of different food and products through growing crops and animals. It is derived from the Latin word “agricultura” meaning field. In earlier times, agriculture was the main occupation for most people, and it plays an important role in the development of civilization. A broad term, agriculture encompasses different divisions. It includes growing and harvesting of crops like beans, peas, corn, wheat, and more. Breeding animals, trees, and even fishing form part of agriculture.
Around one third of the world’s population is involved in agriculture. Yet, it’s a most underrated field and it’s slowly losing importance because a lot of people are looking for employment outside of agriculture. In 2005, China was number one in terms of agricultural output followed by Europe and then India. The United States occupied fourth place on the list. The development of technology has brought great changes in agriculture. It reduces the time and effort involved, helping to increase produce for the same area of land.
The tiny vegetable patch in the backyard and those herbs grown by your mom in the kitchen are also part of agriculture. In the United States, there is a department dedicated for this purpose known as the United States Department for Agriculture Home and Garden. Let’s take a detailed look at some agricultural information including animals, crops, food safety, and games.
Agriculture can be classified into farming, ranching, forestry, fishing, and research. In farming, you plant, grow, and harvest the crops that are later used as food or other products. In the bigger farms, there are farming supervisors or managers who oversee the farm hands or factory workers. There are a great variety of plants that can be harvested. Do you know that there are over 500 varieties of banana in the world? If you eat a variety a day, it would take over a year to taste all the varieties available.
Taking care of the animals in the farm is called ranching. These animals are bred for milk, wool, eggs, honey, and meat. Ranch hands, trainers, supervisors, nutritionists and different equipments go into the successful running of a ranch. Nearly 5 billion dozen eggs are produced annually in the United States alone! Cosmetics, footballs, crayons, perfumes, soaps are also products that are derived from animals.
Forestry refers to the caring of plants and trees. Trees are used to gather wood, and plants can be used for a variety of purposes. Log graders, foremen, and managers take care of forests. Fishing is the art of catching fish. It involves fishermen, boat operators, and others. Scientists and agriculturists come up with new ideas and improvements to advance the field of agriculture.
You can find a variety of animals on the farm. The cattle is comprised of the bull, cow, and calves. Generally, they are reared for milk and dairy products. Then, you have the poultry like chicken, duck, and turkey that are raised for eggs and meat. There are also goats that give milk and sheep that provide wool. Other animals include horses that help to move things around, and dogs that guard the farm.
Growing crops is an important part of agriculture. Plants like corn, tomatoes, soybeans, wheat, rice, sunflower, beans, peas, potatoes, eggplant, pumpkins, peanuts, and other grains are some of the more popular crops. Grapes, strawberries, other berry varieties, and pineapples are some of the fruits you can find on a farm. The crops grown in the United States are worth over $100 billion in a calendar year. The number one crop is corn and other leading crops are soybeans, hay, wheat, cotton, and rice.
Store all foods in the refrigerator and take it out to cook only when required. Do not use the same vessels for cooked and raw food. Also ensure that you cook the meat well to avoid any food poisoning. Keep raw meat away from fresh and cooked food items to avoid contamination. Wash your hands before cooking, eating or touching any food item. If you are carrying perishable food while going on a picnic, place the food in the shade. Try to avoid opening it frequently. Pack the food in the cooler with ice or cold water. Do not leave food at room temperature for more than two hours as bacteria breeds faster in room temperature.
Nowadays, learning about agriculture can be a whole world of fun. Virtual farming games are very popular now. You can also learn about food safety and gardening by checking out some of the interactive games on the Internet.