Ag to Football
Football season is finally back – it’s the time of year that millions of people wait for. Sport fans are excited to crowd around the T.V. or gather in the bleachers, munching on popcorn while watching the big game. Did you know that agriculture is essential for these Friday Night Lights? From the food to the turf to the footballs themselves, everything is brought to us by ag! In this blog post we break down the different ways that football connects to agriculture.
Popcorn, peanuts, hotdogs, and hamburgers are some of America’s favorite football treats and all are brought to us by plants and animals.. Believe it or not, popcorn actually grows on the cob and 45% of the nation’s popcorn is grown in Nebraska. We even grow some popcorn fields here in Iowa! Peanuts are popular sports snacks in the U.S. and, surprisingly, are grown below ground! Peanuts grow on a plant that flowers above ground, leaving the actual peanut below the surface. These crops are grown primarily in the south, but are surprisingly easy to grow and can lead to a bountiful harvest. A single peanut can produce 30-40 nuts!
Hotdogs are often made of beef, chicken, or pork, or a combination of them. Iowa alone produces 33% of America's hotdogs and is the leading producer in pork products. Hamburgers are one of the most well-known American foods! True hamburgers are made out of beef, which come from beef cows, but alternative versions are rising in popularity, such as turkey burgers or black bean burgers. Despite these new variations, nothing truly beats a football meal like a juicy beef burger.
Speaking of beef, cows are actually involved in more than just the food aspect of football games! In all NFL games, the footballs used are made from cow hides. Hides of the best quality are specially chosen, sewn, steamed, and laced to absolute perfection. Wilson is the required NFL football brand and the Wilson employees produce 4,000 footballs a day by hand. This fact often confuses individuals due to the common football term “pigskin.” This is because the very first football was made of inflated pig bladders, leading to the nickname “pigskin.” While it seemed like a great idea at the time, lugging around an inflated pig bladder wasn’t always that pleasant so when the invention of rubber came around, the pigskin was quickly ditched for rubber wrapped in leather.
Another unknown agriculture relation is the field. The turf used in football games is carefully grown and perfected. Sod was bred with various varieties to ensure it was the perfect length, strength, and color. Once the new grass variation was created, it had to be grown and cared for by farmers for several months before being sent to the stadium in perfect condition.
While it may seem a little hard to believe, agriculture is everywhere around us – even in our favorite games. While you cheer on your team this weekend, remember that it was brought to you by farmers.