The Salt
2:00 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Test Your Food IQ: Do We Need More Farms To Grow Fruits And Veggies For All?

Think you're part of the food-literati? True or false: 13 million more acres of farmland would be required to produce enough fruit and vegetables for the daily diets of all Americans to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition guidelines.

The official answer is Yes, according to the James Beard Foundation, which put out the quiz. (You can see the whole quiz below). But we reached out to Jason Clay of the World Wildlife Fund who's being honored by the JBF tonight, for a slightly more nuanced response.

For starters, Clay says, it's important to point out that we import about 30 percent of the fresh fruits we consume now. So perhaps we could make up difference by increasing our imports.

But Clay says we can — and should — be smarter about what we do at home with what we already have.

"We could intensify production without expanding into additional farmland. We need to improve productivity in farming by focusing on what matters most. Instead of focusing on increasing tons of product per acre, we could focus on calories and nutrients consumed per acre or per gallon of water," he says.

So, there's really no quick and easy answer.

Here's the whole quiz:

1. Which of the following is not one of the top five commodity crops that receive subsidies through the Farm Bill?
A. Rice
B. Soybeans
C. Cotton
D. Oats

2. Which of the following crops does not qualify as specialty produce according to the Farm Bill?
A. Corn
B. Broccoli
C. Carrots
D. Cauliflower
E. None of the above

3. True or false: Thirteen million more acres of farmland would be required to produce enough fruit and vegetables for the daily diets of all Americans to meet USDA guidelines.
A. True
B. False

4. True or false: The majority of the Farm Bill is designated for agricultural appropriations.
A. True
B. False

5. Roughly how many Americans identify themselves as farmers, according to recent Census data?
A. 2 percent
B. 5 percent
C. 10 percent
D. 20 percent

6. How much of the nation's total land area is controlled by farmers?
A. 10 percent
B. 20 percent
C. 40 percent
D. 60 percent

7. Over the last 25 years, the nation has lost roughly how many acres of farmland to development?
A. 10 million
B. 20 million

8. True or false: Since 1995, 10 percent of all farmers have received 74 percent of all subsidies:
A. True
B. False

9. True or false: Over 60 percent of farmers in the US do not collect subsidy payments:
A. True
B. False

click here for answers

P.S: JBF is hosting foodies and food thinkers today and tomorrow at a conference called "Creating a Better, More Sustainable Food World We Can Trust." (You can watch it all on the live stream.) I was supposed to be there moderating but was felled by a stomach bug, so I'm at home in DC recovering with some chamomile tea.

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