Category Archives: Uncategorized

Industrial Tomato Farming

This large equipment is being used to harvest tomatoes commercially in New Zealand. When you watch it, it is rather obvious that the tomatoes are not being treated gently, and so will be used for sauces and processing.

As someone who has always grown tomatoes in a garden, the video felt rather shocking, like there should be a humane treatment for tomatoes law somewhere. Ouch.

Not surprisingly, the data (below) from the USDA shows us that the majority of our tomato crop is turned into sauces or liquids.

ERS researchers recently analyzed Americans’ vegetable consumption from all sources: plain raw or cooked vegetables; juices; sauces; and vegetables from mixed dishes like soups, stews, pasta dishes, and others. Tomatoes accounted for about a quarter of the average 1.5 cups of vegetables Americans ate per day. Most tomato is consumed as an ingredient in mixed foods, such as pastas and pizza.

These mixed foods are much higher in sodium and calories than raw tomatoes. Researchers found that among foods prepared at home, raw tomatoes accounted for 22 percent of tomato consumption, while 24 percent came from tomato sauces for spaghetti and similar pastas. Among foods eaten away from home, pizza provided the largest share of tomato consumed (32 percent), followed by raw tomatoes (17 percent), and spaghetti and similar pastas with tomato sauce (15 percent).

Large Dairy Efficiency Kills the Small Dairy

Larger operations squeeze out more milk at lower cost

Costs of production for U.S. milk decline as the size of the dairy operation (measured by the number of cows) increases. Based on 2013 data, average total economic costs of milk production—a measure that includes the opportunity costs of land, labor, and other owned resources—fell by nearly 60 percent, from an average of about $50 per hundredweight (cwt) for producers with fewer than 50 cows to about $20 per cwt for those with 1,000 cows or more.

Average costs are lower on larger farms because fixed cost items, such as management, land, and other resource costs, are spread across a larger number of cows, and because average output per cow increases along with farm size. Mean output per cow was just over 15,000 pounds among operations with less than 50 cows, while operations with 1,000 or more head averaged more than 23,000 pounds per cow.

Higher milk yields on larger farms stem from factors such as better breeding, nutrition, and health management, as well as the ability to access competitively priced supplies of high quality feed inputs.

source: usda

Change is Good


One thing I’ve liked about running a website is that it feels like there is a flow, like it is alive. Just as in the transient nature of life, a post is made, then it fades, and a new subject takes its place. It is in the moment. Then, it has become a building block woven into the interconnectedness of the web.

But, as I hinted at earlier this year, I’m planning to change my priorities somewhat in how I spend my writing time. Much as I wish I could do it all, I’ve got some projects pending that simply won’t get done unless I spend less time doing the online work at the pace I’ve been keeping around here. Plus, I don’t believe in stagnation. Change is good.

What are my new priorities?

For more than a year, I’ve wanted to work on a freelance piece that never gets done because of what I do here. I want to follow that through to completion. There will be more after that.

Some work that I’ve done on this site in the past warrants more attention. I knew that when I worked on a particular subject a couple of years ago here, but, now, with the recent encouragement of a Professor from Australia who has taken interest in the project by giving me guidance, I plan to work on getting it published in, at minimum, E-book form, and, hopefully, hard copy, too. Thank you, Keith.

Unrelated to writing, I’m also on the schedule to do an art show here in Boulder a number of months down the road, which I’m looking forward to very much.

So expect posts here on Big Picture Agriculture to be less frequent and more sporadic going forward, perhaps more like twice a month.

All in all, my new goal is to try to enter a more professional level in my writing efforts, not to diminish that this has been a Google News site which I’ve been proud of, but I will have far more flexibility in the way I approach writing, which by now has become an important part of me.

Finally, I will leave you with a photo of a baby hummingbird fledgling which I took two days ago on Balboa Island. Being from the Midwest, I’d never seen a hummingbird nest before, and I’d be lucky to ever see one again. I hope the bird makes it, since there was a cat living on the porch below.