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In the old game where one had to guess some object by asking no more than 20 questions, the first was often “animal, vegetable, or mineral?” Minerals have made America the richest nation on earth, and it is minerals that will keep it ahead of the rest of the world in the 21st century.

Obviously minerals are not our only natural resource: There are our more than 300 million Americans with skills and talents in hundreds of thousands of areas. Therefore it could be said that people are perhaps our greatest resource. Animals—both in the wild and domestic—are resources for food, clothing, even fertilizer. Then there are our vegetable resources, not only agricultural products produced on farms, but also millions of acres of timber, grasslands and shoreline plants that are nurseries for fish and other seafood. What would our world be like without songbirds or game birds, or just plain old chickens? Each is a resource for something.

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