National Ag Week is March 10-16, a time to recognize the contributions of agriculture to our daily lives. Since many of us are not farmers, the importance of agriculture may not always be obvious to us. According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, agriculture is the leading industry for our state, providing one out of every eight jobs and contributing $124 billion to the economy annually.
For those who read the Delaware SWCD’s columns, you already know that I am a big fan of celebrations, particularly if they involve food, and especially if they involve chocolate cake. But, for Ag Week, I think pizza would be perfect as its ingredients can highlight Ohio’s importance to agriculture. Did you know that Americans consume more than three billion pizzas each year, and the average family eats pizza at home 30 times a year? If we investigate the ingredients that make up a pepperoni pizza, we will find the following:
• Wheat is needed for the pizza dough. Ohio producers harvest approximately 31 million bushels of wheat a year. A bushel of wheat weighs 60 pounds and when milled into flour, can produce about 42 pounds of white flour.
• A tomatoey sauce is the next ingredient. Ohio is in the top 10 states for tomato production, both for the fresh market and tomatoes for processing into products like soup, catsup and pizza sauce. The United States ranks in the top five of tomato producing countries.
• Cheese is next. While we think of Wisconsin as the cheese state, and California is busy promoting cheese from its happy cows, Ohio is a significant cheese producer. Our state is up in the top 10 of cheese production and is even ranked number one nationally in Swiss cheese production. Guggisberg Cheese in Millersburg was recently named the 2019 U.S. Champion for its Baby Swiss Wheel. Ohio is 11th for its number of dairy cows, and a high production cow can produce 100 pounds of 4 percent milk per day, which can yield five pounds of butter, 11.6 gallons of milk, and 10 pounds of cheese.
• And lastly, our pizza needs some pepperoni. Pork is the world’s most widely eaten meat, and Ohio producers raise more than 2 million hogs a year, placing us third in the nation for the number of farms with hogs. Meat lovers can have ham and/or bacon, which are also pork products, added to their pizza in addition to ground beef. Beef cattle can be found in every county in Ohio, and the state ranks 15th in the U.S. in beef production.
Ohio is in the top 10 producing states for strawberries, maple syrup, wine, and floriculture, and more facts about the amazing world of agriculture can be found at https://quizlet.com/142149528/farm-bureau-farm-facts-flash-cards/. Discover the array of local products, delicious recipes, farm markets, agritourism, and a whole lot more at ohioproud.org, and farmflavor.com. When you sit down to dinner tonight, remember to thank a farmer!
Check out the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District’s website at www.delawareswcd.org for information about our annual tree and shrub sale as well as our March 25, 2019 free seminar, “How to manage woodland for profit.”
Bonnie Dailey is deputy director of the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District. For information, go to www.delawareswcd.org.