“Know your farmer, know your food.” is a common quote we see in many places, including the farmer’s market, the supermarket; and even bigger advertising pieces, like commercials, and on social media. But what does it really mean? Many of us may not personally know a farmer, so how do we get the facts about food and agriculture?
Local farmers do have the opportunity to interact with customers, but what about the farmers who produce crops that go into the national food supply? How do we get to talk to them and hear their perspective? Where should those facts be from and who can we trust?
As a former farm-girl myself, what I knew about agriculture in the 1980s and 1990s still holds true as I visit numerous farms both large and small – farmers care for the land they live on; they care for the people and animals who also live on and around that land. Yet, what has changed in agriculture is the technology available to produce the food we need to feed the world. To learn more about that technology and its benefits, we need to learn more about agriculture.
So what are some ways we can get out of our comfort zone and learn more about food and agriculture from the farmers who produce food for our families?
I believe it’s through the real connections that are formed when we open up the dialogue about food and agriculture.
Three Ways to Learn About the Food We Eat and the Farmers That Grow and Produce that Food:
Learn More About Agriculture: Visit a Farm
If you have the opportunity to go on a farm tour, take it! Tours are filled with behind-the-scenes looks into what goes into growing and producing the foods we eat. Getting a firsthand view of how farms operate can change your entire perspective and may even shift your thinking.
Recently I had the opportunity to tour DePree Farms, a hog and crop farm in Missouri, on behalf of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.
While a guest on the farm, it was easy to see the pride radiating from the family. Here are my main takeaways from this hog farm tour:
Farmers really take pride in the animals they raise – caring for them throughout their lives – just as they care for their own children.
Piglets love being by their mommas, but mom is so big, the crate protects the little piglets from being crushed by the weight of mom.
Safety of the hogs is at the highest priority – which is why we sported booties wherever we went – to prevent the transmission of disease.
Being a guest on a farm tour provides an inside look and an opportunity to ask questions you may have about your food. If you hear of the opportunity to visit a farm, I encourage you to do it. Many communities in rural and even urban areas will hold neighborhood events, like farm tours, for the public.
Learn More About Agriculture: Talk to a Farmer
Whether you are on an airplane, or walking through the supermarket, there are opportunities to talk with farmers everywhere you go. Here are some questions you can ask a farmer to help you learn more about the agriculture industry by asking questions to help learn more about the agriculture industry.
- Why do you farm?
- What do you grow or produce?
- What do you do to stay sustainable?
- What’s one thing you really want me to know about your business?
Of course, these are just a few questions to get started, and the conversation will certainly blossom from there. With the answers to these questions, you are sure to find the values that are important to the farm – they may even be the same values important to you!
Learn More About Agriculture: Attend a Farm Dinner
This past August, I volunteered to be a part of a farm dinner, hosted by CommonGround Minnesota. CommonGround is a national organization of women involved in farming who want to be a resource to educate families about food and farming practices. Many states have led CommonGround initiatives, where they host farm dinners. These farm dinners allow the opportunity to find common ground – the common values we all share – through a dialogue over dinner on a farm.
This post is sponsored by my partnership with the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.
Excellent Resources to Learn More about Agriculture:
- CommonGround http://findourcommonground.com/ – including videos featuring real farmers
- U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance http://www.fooddialogues.com/ including videos of “Day on the Farm” as well as videos and interviews with the “Faces of Farming and Ranching”
- State Farm Bureaus http://www.fb.org/statefbs/ – find your state and the resources they share