Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Detective Work is Good for your Dinner Table

While I may not be well versed in deep and detailed agricultural issues that maybe only growing up on a farm would expose me to, I understand the basics.  I appreciate both sides.  I think people in agriculture tend to get frustrated with the average “removed from the farm” consumer and the way they are so easily swayed by fear tactics.  What we need to understand as an industry is that people are generally just confused and prepared to take in any information they can get their hands on.  They don’t know if that information is true or false, they just know if it sounds scary or safe.  But it is so hard to shake a mental picture from your head once it’s been painted for you.  How do you go about the legwork of seeking out facts when people are throwing around the terms “toxic, poison, and inhumane?” when it relates to the food you are feeding your family.  Your mind makes leaps and bounds to where it shouldn’t and suddenly you’ve made your verdict on where you stand.  
A pig at our farm settles in nice and comfy

As I have made it apparent before, I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan (my dog is named Dr. Watson, after all) and I often refer to the books or series for quotes.  I find that the detective work and fact seeking that Holmes relentlessly does to pull out the smallest details is spot on for what we as farmers wish the consumer to do when seeking facts about food and farming. There is a quote from the new BBC Sherlock series (which is amazing, seriously watch it) where Sherlock is trying to express to D.I. Lestrade how he has been deceived.  He says to him:

Ah, Moriarty is smart. He planted that doubt in her head; that little nagging sensation. You’re going to have to be strong to resist. But you can’t kill an idea, can you? Not once it’s made a home... there (in your head).”

This sounds exactly like what fact less fear mongering has done to our beloved world of agriculture. Extreme food and animal rights activists have turned into the Moriarty’s of the farming world, cleverly planting ideas with fears disguised as “facts”.  It has made some doubt the purpose and actions of the modern day farmer. Farmers scarcely ever educated about any of these glorious and innovative leaps we have taken towards feeding a growing population and now it is made into something to be feared and avoided.  So how do we turn the consumer back into Sherlock Holmes mode and aid them in defeating the overwhelming information that is working against them?  We need to help them in seeking facts before believing theories.  True fact seeking is a tough feat nowadays in the realm of such easily obtained information where the most popular link equals the most accurate in the eyes of the internet investigator.

I can’t say that if I had not met my husband 10 years ago and moved back to the city instead of the country that I would not have been one of these consumers.  I would be scared of what to feed my family, not knowing exactly who was preaching the real facts, taking whatever mainstream media has to say as truth, and making choices from there.  I see what farming and agriculture is about firsthand now-an opportunity unfortunately so few will ever get to experience.  It may make it even more frustrating for me as I feel like I many times scramble to get the word out, set the record straight, and restore people’s faith in the community that so carefully works to bring food to the worlds table.  This is the community that I am now so proudly rooted in and raising my children amongst. 

So with this we must continue to show people what we do.  We need to share our amazing stories of our everyday lives, not just the topics we feel are important to the masses.  Sure it is important to address such concerns as they arise, but remember that it is the most mundane of chores that we repeat time and time again that is probably most fascinating to a person on the outside looking in.  Strong work ethic and focus on family was one of the most surprising things I discovered when I moved here.  Consumers need to know that our passion is getting out there every day, doing all of the important little things that make up this wonderful life that we call farming.
Our son watches as Dad drives the tractor

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