An Iowa State University study finds the state’s farmers would benefit greatly if people would start eating more healthy foods — along with a shift in Iowa’s agricultural philosophy.
Rich Pirog at ISU’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture says the figures are staggering in the scenario that sees us eating five servings of Iowa-grown fruits and vegetables each day for three months out of the year. Pirog says there would be a net increase in economic activity with $302 million in total economic output and $112.6 million in labor income and a net of 4000 new jobs.
While Iowa’s known as an agricultural state, Pirog says most of what’s grown here is eaten by livestock, not people. The study assumed Iowa farmers will change that up. For the five-a-day scenario, they chose apples, carrots, spinach, broccoli and squash, all items that could be grown in all 99 of Iowa’s counties for at least three months a year. While Iowa has a small horticultural industry, most of the state’s growers are involved in corn and soybeans, much of which feeds cows and pigs.
Pirog says farmers would have to shift their focus. Pirog says most fruit and vegetable crops are higher value crops as far as net return per acre, though they are riskier. In addition to the economic impact and thousands of new jobs such a change in Iowa’s growing strategy would bring, Pirog points out that switching to five-a-day servings of fruits and veggies would also make us healthier. Now, only about 20-percent of Iowans eat that much fresh produce a day.
Related web sites:
Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture