From “Eh” to “ZZZZZ….” – and throughout the day – Ag is important!

This was published on the Calgary Stampede Blog and in Huffington Post Alberta.  Are you a teacher? I invite you to use this material in the classroom setting…engage your students in discussions on how important agriculture is to us – EVERY DAY and throughout the day!

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From the time you wake up and your feet hit that hardwood floor until you tuck yourself into those cotton sheets at night, agriculture is a constant in your everyday life. 

What did you have for breakfast this morning?  Eggs? Perhaps a couple pieces of toast?

Between the farmgate and your morning breakfast plate, a lot happens!  The agriculture value chain is always at work bringing food to your table every day.  Eggs are recognized for their outstanding nutritional qualities containing vitamins, iron and protein. Did you know that there are more than 1000 registered egg farms in Canada? On average, flocks are comprised of just over 19,000 chickens that each lay ~300 eggs per year!  From whole wheat to rye to whole grain products, there are a number of healthy bread options. Did you know that Canada is known the world over for its premium wheat varieties?  Wheat is grown throughout Canada but mostly in the Prairies – with Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan being the three major growing provinces. Canadian mills grind over 3.5 million tonnes of wheat, oats and barley every year and export these products to over 30 countries!

r-WHEAT-FIELD-large570 HUFF PO Canada

How did you get to and from work or school?

Whether you drove or used public transportation, biofuels likely provided the fuel that got you from point “A” to point “B”.  There are two forms of biofuels: ethanol and biodiesel.  Ethanol is produced from crops like corn, sorghum, potatoes, wheat, and sugar cane. When ethanol is combined with gasoline, it creates fuel burning efficiencies.  Biodiesel is specifically designed for diesel engines and is derived from natural oils like soybeans. Like ethanol, it is a renewable fuel. Both forms of biofuels have definite advantages over petroleum-based alternatives gasoline – they are way better for the environment!

Photo source: Great Lakes Biodiesel

Photo source: Great Lakes Biodiesel

What’s for Dinner?

Do you fancy a BBQ? Rib steak with a side of quinoa and maybe a fresh garden salad?  There are 80,000 beef cattle ranches currently operating in Canada. In 2009 alone, Canada produced over 3 million pounds of beef.  Canada is the 6th largest beef exporting country in the world and the average Canadian eats approximately 46 pounds of beef per year!  Quinoa is a relatively new crop for Canadian agriculture but several varieties have been adapted to grow on the prairies.  If you have never tried it, quinoa is a great alternative to rice or pasta and has a mild, slightly nutty taste to it.  An excellent source of protein and carbohydrates, both the seeds and the leaves of the Quinoa plant can be eaten. The leaves can even be cooked and served as a side dish, similar to beet greens.  Speaking of green, what about a nice, fresh salad with that BBQ?

Photo Source: Alberta Beef

Photo Source: Alberta Beef

Now that we know what’s ‘on’ the BBQ, let’s talk about what’s in it. Did you know that biomass pellets and briquettes are made from agricultural and forest harvesting residues and are used in BBQs?  And not only in BBQs, but in boilers and furnaces as well! This alternative energy source is cost effective and helps us all to reduce fossil fuel consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Good-night… and Good Ag!

It’s been a long day… how about an evening snack of cereal or a cup of warm milk before you hit the (cotton) sheets?  As you cross that kitchen linoleum floor to the fridge to grab a carton of milk, take note that flax oil is used to manufacture this type of flooring.  It is also used to finish wood and is an important component of the paint that is on your walls.  Most people think that flax is just for use in cereal or as a nutritional supplement.  It’s so much more than that! Flax is used to make linen fabric and is currently being developed as insulation for buildings and as composites in car dashboards, too! Flax is such a flexible crop and Canada is a world leading producer and exporter of flax.

Finally, as that milk simmers on the stove, think about this. The typical dairy cow produces 30 litres of milk from two daily milkings! The dairy industry ranks third in the Canadian agricultural sector following grains and oilseeds, and red meats. Most (80+%) dairy farms are located in Ontario and Quebec and the average dairy operation has about 60 cows.  That means lots of wholesome dairy goodness  – including cheese, yogurt and cream – on your table every day!

Photo source: Rural Living Canada

Photo source: Rural Living Canada

From “Eh” to “Zzzzz….” – and throughout the day – Canadians use hundreds of things that are products of modern agriculture.  From food to fuels; from linoleum to lotions – agriculture plays an important role in our day-to-day lives.

Look around you… what things can you see that come from agriculture?

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Don’t miss Aggie Days April 13 and 14 at the BMO Centre, Stampede Park. Admission is FREE for everyone! And make sure you become a fan and follower of the Aggie Days Facebook and Twitter accounts for all the latest news!

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