Agriculture is more than food

Approximately a month ago an event called Agriculture in the City took place at the Forks Market in downtown Winnipeg. This was my third Ag in the City event, which is the brainchild of Richard Lavergne with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Manitoba branch. Every year I look forward to this event as I feel it’s important to connect urban consumers with their food. We as an agriculture industry need to make more of these connections.

The event features displays from the various commodity groups such as beef, dairy, pork, chicken, turkey, canola, eggs, wheat, pulses, fruit growers and much more. The event also includes cooking demonstrations, a University of Manitoba Food Fight, foods for health cooking demonstrations and the So You Think You Can Farm game show.

MRAC Program Coordinator Kristin Yaworski-Lowdon describes some of the project items to visitors during Ag in the City, March 2011.

While the focus of the event seemed to be on food, it’s important to remember that agriculture is more than food. When most people think of agriculture, they probably think of their food. But agriculture is so much more. Agriculture is that biodegradable plastic frisbee you’re playing with. Agriculture is that city bus you’re riding in. Agriculture is that natural health product you take.

MRAC Executive Director Ted Eastley discusses the sample bus part with a visitor during Ag in the City, March 2011.

Agriculture is more than food is the message I’d tried to convey at the Manitoba Rural Adaptation Council display. We had items on display from three successful projects we’ve funded. The items included: biodegradable plastic products such as greenhouse pots, golf tees, frisbees and more made from potato starch; a pure alfalfa powder which has various health benefits made from alfalfa grown here in Manitoba; and a sample bus part made from renew biomass such as hemp, flax and canola. Each of these projects demonstrated that agriculture is more than food. We’ve had these same items on display for the past three years of the event and they always go over really well. Hundreds of people stop by the booth over the course of the weekend and show an interest in the items. Of course some are more interested than others. There will always be those people who just want that free pen you’re giving away. But the ones who are genuinely interested make up for all the others who don’t seem to care. If I can teach just one person something about agriculture that day than it was all worth it.

I read a quote recently that seems fitting here, “Without agriculture you’d be hungry, naked and homeless.”

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