All Access: Farmers Secrets Revealed

I’m not sure how to do it.

I’m in the midst of a swamp of papers regarding agriculture advocacy opportunities (say that three times fast!), locking down lesson plans that accurately reflect agriculture, and poking my nose into as many agricultural publications as I can.  In my spare time, of course.

[And I have to admit, sometimes I learn a bit. Mostly I feel overwhelmed. And often, just plain confused.]

You see, amid all this newsprint and webprint and typed print, I get a little claustrophobic.  I feel the need to ditch and just do.  Replace the words on the page with visual and kinesthetic real-life-hands-on-see-what-they-are-talking-about. And I wonder how you, the food and fiber customer, feel with all the print and no hands-on.

It would drive me crazy.

I can read about new dairy operations and then call up a friend who milks the mamas and she’ll say – “come over and see.” I can look cross eyed at a scholarly article on GMO’s and then take my impression to the local co-op, local extension office, local Farm Bureau, and local (actual) farmers, and test pilot my questions.

But what do you do when you don’t have the phone-a-friend option? No lifeline? Do you turn to Dr. Oz or the Oprah, the local news, or your buddy at the gym? Do you take beautifully designed media at its face value?

[Do you automatically credit the non-GMO Cheerios as a blessing and buy stock, or do you do a little research and find out that oats were never a GMO crop anyway?]

Do you research? Do you question? Do you …

As a food and fiber customer, how do we in the agriculture industry best say hello to you? As agriculturalists, we have to be honest and admit that RFDTV doesn’t hold the same appeal as the sensational Dr. Oz. We don’t have a prep crew like Oprah, and we may not run with the likes of ‘opinion Hollywood’.

So how do we tell you our side?

What would make you stop and lend ear to the voice of agriculture? 

We are, after all, the ones who do the back-grounding for you.

Our jeans are dirt-stained for you. Our hands are calloused for you.

There have been a lot of gains in the agriculture advocacy efforts over the past decades mainly through grassroots efforts such as blogs and social media, and more fluent organizations such as the American Farm Bureau Federation. But all that amounts to a load of manure (pardon the pun) unless you – the customer  - values, researches, listens, and respects.

So, that’s why I’m not really sure how to do it.

Will you help?

Leave some tangible solutions in the comments below to introduce agriculture to the customer. Get creative in your introductions and solutions.Think outside the box. Think as far away from the box as you can. Heck, even jump on the box.

__________________________________________

Hello.”

I am the face of agriculture.”

Your food. Your fiber. Your fuel.”

“How can I help you understand me?”

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 Thank you.

Comments

  1. I think about these thing a lot too.

    I continue to believe having an active, honest presence in the blog-sphere and social media is a great avenue. However, I think of equal importance is never being afraid to share our story in person. It sounds simple, but I can’t tell you know many times I’ve been out and about and heard someone say something negative about ag or bring up antibiotics or hormones in food, GMO concerns, etc, etc. I know I need to speak up, but sometimes I get nervous and 1/2 my knowledge seems to vaporize. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot better about asking the person a few questions to really understand where they are coming from and what their concerns are. I build some common ground with them (such as — we both care about animals ) and only then can I start sharing some of my farm knowledge.

    I know word of mouth is a small step, but sometimes it’s all we’ve got. :-)

    Some recent examples for me have been the gal at a new salon where I got my hair cut, an old college friend who works in the corporate world, and a friend of friend from Chicago.

    Glad I found your blog too. Thanks for stopping by mine!

    • Lisa,
      Thanks for taking the time to reflect and comment. I hear you on the knowledge vaporization! Sometimes I get stuck on the slow progress of word of mouth, and have my supercharged moments of “why can’t we just change the world in the blink of an eye?!?”
      Thanks for agvocating on your blog, look forward to seeing you around!
      Lauren

  2. oh Man, nowadays I go to the grocery store and spend most of my time reading labels then usually, putting the item back on the self. Followed by a “well Shit” under my breath and a head shake. I’m trying to control what I put into the mouths of babes. I’ve read about how artificial colors, sweeteners and flavors can effect an already hyper boy I know. ;) I’ve heard how GMO’s are causing cancer……. and gluten, we won’t talk about gluten?????????? I’m confused why the US government does this to it’s people? and angry. I need someone to tell me what is safe to give my kids then explain how to afford it then show me how to prepare it………well, so they will eat it…………day after day…….. social media is good, I will sooner read something on Facebook posted by a friend then I would buy a magazine or newspaper or seek out a website, although I have done those things too. A friend of mine once read somewhere that to eat “right”, the first step is to get out of the grocery store. while I would love that lifestyle I simply cannot afford it or find the time to make 10 different stops each week. So maybe targeting farmers markets and the Friendly city food coop? scream it from the mountain tops. I’m thirsty for knowing, but want the truth!
    p.s. you rock

    • Karla,
      Thanks for taking the time to lay it all out there. I think you echo a lot of consumers/customers as they try and tackle the challenge of shopping with their family and finances foremost. You’ve put a lot of food for thought in your comment (pun intended), and some great ideas for future posts here at Paint The Town AG. Thanks!
      I think that fresh and as unprocessed is the ultimate best as well, however, I’ve come to understand that careful research is required when looking at the actual process and product (with regards to organic/non-organic, no sugar added, hormone free, GMO free, etc, etc.)Marketing plays just as much a part in the finished product – how and what they use/say to sway the consumer to “come to their side.”
      I will start you off with this – an article on GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) by Janice Pearson:
      http://janiceperson.com/agriculture/ag-awareness/what-are-gmos-why-do-farmers-plant-gmo-crops/

      Lauren

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