March 24 – National Agriculture Day

Posted on March 24, 2020

This whole week is National Ag Week, a time when producers (farmers and ranchers), agricultural associations, corporations, universities, and governmental agencies join to discuss and promote agriculture.

The Six Fs:

Agriculture is about growing, harvesting, and selling to people or companies plants and animals and the occasional fungus that provide one of these five items:

Food - Fruit orchards, dairy farms, farms that grow a variety of vegetable and grain crops, and ranches where livestock is raised for meat are the main kinds of human-food-based agricultural operations. There are also poultry farmers who sell eggs and/or meat, fish farmers, farmers who specialize in growing mushrooms, and more!

Fabric - Cotton, flax (linen), hemp, and ramie are all grown to be used mostly in creating fabric for clothing.

Forestry - Growing trees for wood, rubber, fuel, and paper products -and even for Christmas trees - is a kind of agriculture!

Fodder - Food for animals - especially hay and other dried grasses and grains - is generally called fodder. Most barley, corn, oats, rye, and sorghum is raised as fodder rather than as food for humans!  

Fuel - Biofuels can be made from crops as varied as wheat, corn, soybean, and sugarcane.

Flowers - Flowers are grown for cut flowers sold in florist shops, for plants sold in nurseries and home-and-garden stores, and for seeds sold in paper packets.

And another F:

The history of agriculture apparently begins in the "Fertile Crescent," an area of Western Asia that we also call Mesopotamia and "the Cradle of Civilization." This area is now Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and Palestine. 

Way back in the New Stone Age, between 7,000 and 10,000 years ago, people began to grow crops for use in food and some of the other "F"s above. The people who started agriculture settled down in one place so that they could harvest the crops they planted, and they generally had food surpluses; suddenly, not every person was using almost all the hours of the day to look for food. Food surpluses allowed time for various sorts of non-food-related human activities to bubble up: the arts and invention and other aspects of culture began to flourish.

Of course, peoples in the "New World" and Africa and the "Far East" and Australia also invented agriculture thousands of years ago, with evidence of Neolithic farming in China as well as in Mesopotamia (but maybe not quite as early).

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