A quiet trend we’ve seen over time has been the migration of Americans to urban areas, which have seen a 12 percent population increase during the past decade. Underscoring this reality is the fact that California is one of the most urban of all states – a whopping 95 percent of its residents living in or near cities.
“Even though you think of the West as these wide-open spaces, many of these people are living in highly dense urban areas,” said William Frey, a Brookings Institution senior fellow who specializes in metropolitan demographics.
We can appreciate the urban areas for the culture, technology and entertainment they provide, but with the increased congregation of people in urban areas, residents have begun to lose the link to more rural parts of the state and the important connection with the food they eat. Where it comes from. Who grows it. How it is grown.
So, as cliché as it can be, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to remind millions of city dwellers that the food on their plates should not be taken for granted. It is the result of people who work 365 days a year and overcome enormous challenges.
Those of us in the West are especially blessed. The food is the most nutritious, affordable and available of any on earth. It is grown according to the most progressive food safety standards in the world.
California’s agricultural abundance includes more than 400 organic and non-organic commodities. Over a third of the country’s vegetables, and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts, are grown in California.
Arizona farmers help keep our food supply continuous throughout the year. It is home to Yuma, which is known as the winter lettuce capitol of the world. And the state grows enough cotton every year to make one pair of jeans for every person living in the United States.
In Hawaii, an estimated 40 percent of the land is dedicated to farming. As is well known, the islands provide us with exotic foods such as macadamia nuts and pineapple, as well as delicious rainbow papayas.
All of these farmers also play essential roles in providing millions of jobs and billions of dollars to their states. They also have big hearts and pour time, energy and food donations into their communities. For example, through foodbanks, California farmers help feed the less fortunate in Los Angeles, the Bay Area and Central Valley with 50 varieties and 160 million pounds of produce each year. This is something we can all appreciate – whether we live in cities, suburbs or the countryside. As you dig into your Thanksgiving meal, take a moment to look at your food and remember where it comes from.