How’s the pizza you’re eating for dinner? How about the French toast you ate for breakfast? If you love food, thank a farmer. Everything you eat originally started in some way on a farm or ranch. But people didn’t always grow food. About 9,000 years ago, the first farmers began herding animals and growing crops. Before that, people ate only the food they could scavenge or hunt.
Some of the first farmers lived in Egypt, along the Nile River. They discovered that the soil along the Nile River was very fertile. They planted seeds in the soil and the seeds grew. The farmers kept animals which ate some of the crops. The farmers used the animal manure to fertilize the soil and keep the soil healthy. In this cycle, plants and animals have a symbiotic relationship. Plants feed animals and animal waste feeds plants.
Farming is hard work, though. Sometimes disease or insects destroy crops. No water – or too much water – can kill crops. As populations grew, farmers tried new methods to grow enough food for everyone.
Fun Facts About Growing Food for Kids
- One hundred years ago, farmers plowed their fields with horses and plows. Most farmers had small farms. Today, huge companies own most of the farms in America. The farms may be thousands of acres in size. Farmers use tractors, combines and other machinery.
- Farmers often use chemical fertilizers to feed crops. They may use herbicides and pesticides to manage weeds, disease and insects. These chemicals have helped produce more food in some cases, but they can cause problems too.
- In the Amazon rainforest, people cut down trees and burn the stumps. The ashes help make the soil fertile for farming. Soon, though, the soil loses its nutrients and the farmers must cut down more trees for more soil.
- Farmers sometimes use greenhouses to grow food. Greenhouses keep plants warm and moist so they grow better.
- Organic farmers rely on natural methods to keep the soil healthy and control weeds and insects. These methods take more work, but they’re usually better for people, animals, soil and the environment.
Growing Food Vocabulary
- Scavenge: find
- Fertile: capable of producing life
- Symbiotic: both groups help each other
- Herbicide: a chemical designed to kill plants
- Pesticide: a chemical designed to kill insects or control disease
All About Growing Food Video for Kids
Here’s a great video for kids on the benefits of Growing Your Own Food:
Growing Food Q&A
Question: What is selective breeding?
Answer: Farmers and scientists breed only the best animals and plants. The results are plants and animals that are more disease resistant or healthier. Foods may taste better or be higher in quality.
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