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Strong Bones for Strong Futures: Success Begins on the Farm

Leafy_Greens_Calcium_SourceThe sun rises on sprawling green grass and hits a familiar patch of black and white speckled fur. It is just another morning on the farm with a long day’s work ahead.

According to the Midwest Dairy Association, this cow and its peers will be milked two or three times before the sun sets. Crops will be gathered from nearby fields and, combined with animal-based dairy products produced, will be loaded on to trucks for processing and distribution. Here, these items will be packed for purchase and delivery to grocery stores, markets and school district cafeterias across the nation.

Farm-to-table eating has become a common knowledge and preferred concept, with restaurant patrons and home cooks alike favoring fresh, local and nutritious ingredients. A call to integrate better healthy eating options into schools has also been heard by the USDA. The organization set new nutritional standards for meals with implementation by the 2014-2015 school year:

  • Increased volume and variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Whole-grain rich food offerings.
  • Only 1-percent or fat free milk served.

Adherence to these new standards will help students put their best selves forward, with increased access to the food options they need to succeed. Below, we showcase nutritional element calcium as a critical component for bone development, the variety of food source options that bring these nutrients to growing minds and bodies, and how your farm can make small steps to provide the best produce options for consumption.

Calcium and Bone Development

Calcium, a key element for healthy bones, is not made naturally in the body. It is a nutrient our bodies receive (or do not receive) based on the food choices we make from birth.

And those choices in our earliest years are critical. Not only is 90% of our total bone density acquired by age 18 for females and 20 for males, but our bone density begins to decline after age 35.

The more you intake in your early years, the more you will have built up for your later years, preserving overall strength longer in life.

Milks, Greens, and Beans: Food Sources That Assist

Great calcium comes from a wide variety of sources, giving you and your loved ones many opportunities to reach daily requirements (700 milligrams for children aged 1-3, increasing to 1,300 milligrams by age 9):

  • Animal-based Dairy: skim milk, cheese, yogurt
  • Soy-based Alternatives: soy milk, tofu
  • Leafy Greens: kale, spinach, collards, mustard
  • Vegetables: broccoli,
  • Beans: soy, white
  • Nuts: almonds, Brazil
  • Seeds: sesame seeds
  • Fruit: oranges
  • Herbs: thyme, oregano, basil

Healthy Eating Begins with Healthy Crops

Consumption of crops would not be possible without their growth and creation. It is important for farms to not only know the role that they play in providing for the masses, but the impact that access to quality crops can have on the growth and development of populations.

What could your farm regularly commit to and make sure the best crops are produced? A few suggestions:

  • Reduce chemical components. Go organic where possible, and work to reduce overall reliance on fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides that can cause damage to the environment and fill produce with chemical residue.
  • Develop strong water retention channels. Ensure soil is at its peak for water retention. Dig channels that hold water and invest in cover crops.

Which farm-to-table essential does your family favor to get the nutrients needed to grow strong? Share in the comment section below.

Image Source: Rochelle Hartman under Attribution 2.0 Generic

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