We all know that Earth Day means celebrating and protecting the environment, but what does Earth Day mean to people who rely on it every day as the source of their livelihood?
I asked farmer/registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) Abbey Copenhaver, RDN, CDN, and Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, the question: “What is one ‘nugget’ you think your fellow RDNs can share with people about food, nutrition and agriculture on Earth Day?” Here is how they responded:
Abbey: Our world population and its needs are constantly changing, which means agriculture is always changing to meet those needs and that’s not a bad thing.
Technology has helped dairy farmers improve quality of care for their animals and the environment. These improvements and innovations have led to a decreased carbon footprint for dairy, and other agricultural industries, such as the beef industry, have also been implementing changes. Examples of these improvements are animal genetics, cow comfort and health, cow nutrition, crop management and overall farm management.
All of these innovations were and are made possible because farmers are looking to make high-quality products for our increasing global population while preserving resources for future generations. Accomplishing this goal requires research, funding and a large team of on and off the farm professionals to continuously tweak and improve individual farms, and technology has been a large part of those on-farm innovations.
Amy: We as RDNs can remind people that farming is a business, and that being a sustainable farmer means being financially sustainable as well as environmentally sustainable. We also have a responsibility to familiarize ourselves with the technology that allows farmers and ranchers to produce more food with less environmental impact. The world population is growing, economic growth is changing how people want to eat and climate change is putting pressure on farmers around the world. To be leaders in this discussion, RDNs can better understand all options that can help farmers to feed the world!