Cooking Up a Celebration of Food Check-Out Week

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Food Check-Out Week, set for Feb. 17 through Feb. 23, provides an excellent opportunity to celebrate Florida’s farmers and ranchers.

Florida’s farmers and ranchers provide the foundation of the quality of life Floridians enjoy. Their food productivity and responsible management practices create basic national security.

Food Check-Out Week, set for Feb. 17 through Feb. 23, provides an excellent opportunity to celebrate these contributions. Farm Bureau members throughout the state will mark the occasion with a long list of civic and charitable events. These activities will help to remind all Floridians that farmers and ranchers produce an abundance of safe, nutritious foods.

Volunteers will make donations of food, money and supplies to various nonprofit, helping organizations such as homeless shelters and food banks. Their donations reflect their community-minded spirit and a willingness to share agricultural bounty with citizens in need.

A health-boosting diet consists of fruits, vegetables, a wide array of dairy products, lean meats, beans, eggs and nuts in quantities adequate for daily calorie needs. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, all forms of fruits and vegetables provide a good diet – fresh, frozen, dried and canned. The agency recommends that half of your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables; half of all grains should be whole grains. USDA researchers also suggest the use of fat-free or low-fat milk.

At a time when the cost of food and other items is increasing because of spikes in fuel prices, many consumers must rely upon careful choices to provide their families with wholesome meals.
The USDA has reported that the prices of unprepared fresh fruits and vegetables such as carrots, bananas, tomatoes, broccoli, Red Delicious apples and Iceberg lettuce have remained stable compared to dessert and snack foods. The agency’s guidelines (available at http://www.choosemyplate.gov) outline basic dietary information for all consumers.

According to a USDA study, in 1993 farmers and ranchers received less than 19 cents out of every dollar spent on food. By 2008 the share farmers and ranchers received had declined to less than 16 cents. The pattern remains the same for this year. Off-farm costs – processing, packaging, transportation, wholesaling and retailing – account for the majority of the food costs consumers pay.

Agricultural producers take pride in providing consumers with the highest quality, most nutritious food possible. Food safety is a fundamental goal. Farmers and ranchers recognize that superior animal welfare practices result in high quality, safe and wholesome meat, poultry, milk and eggs. They are constantly seeking ways to reduce costs and improve the comfort and well-being of animals. Their crop and animal food production methods are guided by Best Management Practices – state-of-the-art techniques designed and tested by experts at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and other research facilities.

“We are proud of all our members who take part in Food Check-Out Week each year,” said Florida Farm Bureau President John Hoblick. “Their work devoted to this event is both a community service and a reflection of our vibrant national tradition of citizen volunteerism.”

“Initiatives such as Food Check-Out Week are part of Farm Bureau’s effort to educate non-farmers about the value of contemporary agriculture for all of us,” Hoblick added. “I urge all Floridians to join us in our celebration.”

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Florida Farm Bureau is the Sunshine State's largest general agricultural organization with more than 147,000 member-families representing Farm Bureaus in 60 counties. Membership provides a multitude of benefits and you don't have to be a farmer to be a member of Florida Farm Bureau.

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G.B. Crawford
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