It’s no secret that I work for what I consider to be the best people on Earth – FARMERS. They no longer resemble the sad-faced couple of American Gothic fame, but they are still the salt of the Earth.
And that’s why I get mad when people speak negatively of current farming practices. The longer I work with and for farmers, and the more farmers I get to know, and the more farms of all kinds I visit, the more incensed I become when people who do not farm and may have never even set foot on a farm presume to tell the farmers that this practice or that practice is bad.
I recently led a session at a meeting of ag communicators on the subject of social media, and this was one of my key points: “Thank a Farmer.” Sorry, folks, that ship has sailed. People don’t want to thank a farmer for doing his or her job, and they surely don’t see feeding the world as a noble endeavor. They want to know exactly what he does, exactly how he does it, and why he chooses to do it that way. Then they want more information… sometimes they want to make suggestions, or even worse – demands.
Didn’t go over too well, but sadly this is true. I realize that food is the ultimate connector of people. I mean, we all eat, right? Some eat conventional food, others are sworn to pay higher prices for organics, and others question every product they buy to see if it contains GMOs. And all of those choices are fine. We are blessed to live in the United States where we spend less than 10% of our incomes (on average) on food. Folks in other nations spend as much as 25%… and some die of starvation. We, on the other hand, have such an over-abundance of choices, not only in actual products but also in production methods, that it boggles the mind.
I belong to a number of AGvocacy groups on social media, and it honks me off to see the same people (who are not farmers and don’t appear to be open to anything crazy like… you know, science… ) trolling around from site to site vilifying and condemning farmers. There ARE people on the Q & A sites who have genuine questions, and who really want to hear from a farmer. They want to know that the farmers feed their own precious children the food that they grow, and that’s great, because I think that is the ultimate test of safety. No mom I know would feed their child something they know would harm that child, for profit or any other reason.
Then… the trolls. They know how to push buttons, they have an endless library of inflammatory accusations and baseless memes, they cite sources that are crunchy and woo-based, and, well… they lie. Either they don’t know what the truth about food and farming is, OR they do know and just want to scare the living daylights out of the non-farm public. Nobody should be afraid of their food!
Sadly, “mommy guilt” is prevalent, “mom shaming” is a real thing (why in the world is this EVEN a thing??) and those of us who continue to AGvocate just have to be patient, ignore the trolls, and Agvocate on. We may not be able to convince, educate, or change perceptions in some folks, but if we try hard enough, we can have a conversation most every time.
We have to start somewhere, right? One conversation at a time…