There is no doubt that in recent years, consumers have become more and more concerned about how their food is produced, and why shouldn’t they be? Everyone wants to make sure that they are providing themselves and their families with safe, nutritious food that was produced in a way that they deem fit. I personally believe that one of the biggest contributing factors to this concern is the modern-day “gap” between the farmer who grows the food and the urban mom/dad who makes the purchasing decisions regarding food for their family. Many modern-day farming practices are simply misunderstood by many urban consumers because they have little or no experience with food production or farming.
So what do we, the agriculture industry, do about bridging this gap between farmer and urban consumer? Well, this is where the Illinois Farm Families program comes in. The Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Pork Association, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, and Illinois Soybean Association work together in this program to bring mom’s from Chicago, IL (called “Field Mom’s”) out to farms throughout Illinois to speak directly with the farmers who produce their food. This gives those urban moms an opportunity to ask their questions and voice their concerns about food production. It also gives the farmers an opportunity to explain not only how food is produced, but WHY we use different farming practices.
I think this program sets a good example of what should be happening in today’s society of food production concern. Consumers with questions should be asking FARMERS about the concerns they have! And as farmers, we should be happy to take their questions and answer them as honestly as possible. As a “real farm girl” I have often had friends ask me questions about food production and things they are concerned about, and more often than not, they leave the conversation with a better understanding and more positive opinion about their concern.
So, consumers with concerns: Ask a farmer! We are probably a much more reliable source than TV shows or news stories that are often biased one way or the other.
And farmers: Welcome those consumer questions! If urban consumers can’t ask the people who grow their food, who do you expect them to ask?
I love having these discussions with people, and I think it is discussions like these that will really make a difference in consumers having a better understanding of food production and modern farming practices.