Farm Life: Non-Food Ag

When consumers—and even many farmers—picture agriculture they think of people providing food such as milk, meat, and bread in our grocery stores that will eventually end up on our tables. However there is a different side of farming that I find to be rather interesting and unconventional: non-food agricultural production.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of non-food ag products is ethanol, which in turn becomes fuel for our cars. Yes, this is a large part of what our local corn is used for. But to expand on just how vast America’s agricultural industries are, look around the room that you are in. Do you have shoes on? Cosmetics? A wooden table or a pressed board piece of furniture? Did you use soap in the shower or detergent in your washing machine? All of these have some component of agriculture.

To give a few more examples, instruments and tennis racket strings are often made from animal organs. Other animal organs such as hearts and valves are used directly in humans in the medical field. Flax is widely used in coatings, pressboard, and even concrete because of the strength that its fibers provide. Crayola uses soybeans for their color crayons. They have been found to provide a more vivid coloring, are easier and less expensive to produce and use a renewable resource.

Through science and technology farmers are able to enter into new markets that would have otherwise been exhausted, and industries are able to find alternative ways to use renewable and sustainable resources that farmers provide.

Agriculture is everywhere, and is more important now than ever before. So next time you pick up that color crayon, or pull on those boots and walk down the sidewalk, think outside the box of all the ways in which agriculture plays a role in your life.

 

About the Author

Rebekah Gustafson spends her days as a mom to three horse-crazy little girls, and a wife to her husband, Neil, in a small town in NW Wisconsin where they were both born and raised on small dairy farms. She shares her passion for agriculture through her blog Cooped Up Creativity, as an administrator for the Ask The Farmers blog, as well as a volun­teering for CommonGround. Her husband, Neil, works as the Service Manager for the local John Deere Dealership, and also crop farms with his father.