Old McDonald's Expanding Farm

February 10, 2011

Animals are a critical part of our food supply and so we wanted to point out some special animals and insects that help keep food on our tables year round.

The honey bee is involved in the production of about one-third of the foods that each of us consumes on a daily basis. US agriculture relies on honeybee pollination for anything from apples to melons to alfalfa seeds. Overall there are about 2.5 million colonies and over 1.2 million are needed for the almond crop alone. For all of the US agriculture, about 100 crops depend on bees, the value of the increased yield and quality achieved through pollination by bees is approximately $14.6 billion, according to the Cornell Pollination Study.

Bees are probably the most critical critters to our food supply, and their populations are dwindling due to a condition called colony collapse disorder (CCD). Click here for more on CCD.

Pigs are the truffle hunters in Italy and France as well as Oregon and Washington here in the US. Pigs are thought to be so good at seeking out these expensive treats due to the similarity of the musky scent of truffles, to a pheromone like scent secreted by boars during mating. Those in search of truffles have to be careful because the pigs enjoy eating the truffles – which could end up an expensive loss- the record price paid for a single white truffle weighing 3.3 lbs was set in December 2007, when Stanley Ho, Macau casino owner paid $330,000. Wow! Often times dogs are preferred to pigs because of the huge loss one could face due to a truffle loving pig!

Baboons; when it comes to picking the best fruit, baboons don't monkey around. Recently discovered at a South African farm, baboons were picking a tangerine tree bare, weeks before all of the other tangerines were ripe. When the farmer tested the fruit, he noticed that it was in fact sweeter and had ripened faster; and that the baboons had led him to the discovery of a tree that ripened faster!

These are just a few of the animals that help with our food supply, keep in mind that all animals help by fertilizing the land that the food grows on.