The chasm between urban-dwellers and farmers is growing ever-wider as consumers are inundated with conflicting messages about the food they buy for their families. Biased media reports, celebrities with hidden agendas, documentaries that don’t provide objective overviews and book authors who present information meant to be sensational rather than truthful cause consumers to be distrustful. They don’t know which sources to believe, often lack understanding about how food is grown and harbor concerns about the best-management practices employed by farmers. Too often, the messages consumers hear are from groups whose very purpose is to put a stop to modern agricultural practices.
One organization that is reaching out to address those concerns is Illinois Farm Families. Even though they’re busy raising families and running diverse farm operations, farmers who are involved in this effort understand the importance of connecting with consumers and sharing the facts about how food is produced. In fact, one program that has opened the door to curious city-dwellers is Illinois Farm Families’ “Field Moms” project. Moms from the Chicago area visit Illinois farms and talk with the farmers who grow their food.
The Field Moms see firsthand how farmers raise safe and healthy food. They learn how farmers employ sound conservation practices to preserve the land for future generations and how they make sure livestock are comfortable and well cared for. They learn about the tremendous investment required to farm and the guidelines farmers must follow. They see the agricultural equipment and the precision technology farmers use to minimize the use of inputs.
So far, these city moms have visited hog, beef and dairy farms near Chicago and a corn and soybean farm in western Illinois, getting behind-the-scene views of how farmers provide nutritious and wholesome products – not only for their local communities but for the global population. Based on the videos at WatchUsGrow.org, the Field Moms’ firsthand look at farming is providing a more objective view of the industry. They received their own Case IH farm toys to help remind them of the experience and to share with their children when talking to them about agriculture. The Illinois Farm Families initiative is designed to reassure moms that farmers can be trusted and that the food they buy is safe and healthy.
How do you share the story of agriculture with others? Have you had some personal conversations with consumers about food and agriculture? If so, please share them with us.