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Reality television, pointed documentaries and news investigations are placing today’s food system, its players and practices under the microscope.
That’s why the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance chose Los Angeles as the site for its latest round of Food Dialogues. The two-day event brought a handful of farmers to Beverly Hills to discuss perceptions and realities of food and farming. It included entertainment movers and shakers, chefs, academics, large restaurant operators, journalists and more.
Here are excerpts from the keynote conversation about the intersection of pop culture and food. Watch video highlights of the Food Dialogues website.
“Because agriculture has continued to evolve and become more efficient, more middle men (processors, retailers, etc.) came into the equation, so my parents didn’t have to deal with the customer. So the conversation and ability to communicate or market our product has become lost. And now with my generation, it’s like we have to relearn how to talk to customers and market our product; it’s come full circle. How do we work that back into what we do?
~ California farmer Jeff Fowle
“We didn’t get to where we are today by being dummies. We continue to improve and adapt. The innovation and creativity is there. We debate on science and logic but get beat on emotions. We need to get better. Agriculture is learning.
“If we stop being so judgmental and come together in the same room, we find we have a lot of shared values.”
~ Dr. J. Scott Vernon, agricultural communication professor at California Polytechnic State University
“We are the same people with same feelings and life experiences. It’s not a matter of finding (the right message); it’s a matter of exposing oneself and being truly honest about things that are uncomfortable for you ... that’s what resonates with people.”
~ Juliet D’Annibale, TV Producer
Become a Face for Farming and Ranching!
The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance is looking for the “Faces of Farming and Ranching” to help put a real face and shine a light on the heart, personalities and values that are behind today’s food. USFRA is kicking off a nationwide search of farmers and ranchers who can serve as the Faces of Farming and Ranching for a number of various national media, influencer and other public-facing opportunities. Visit Food Dialogues online for complete information and to enter.
Ohio farmer documents her experience from L.A. Food Dialogues online
Fairfield County Farm Bureau member Kristin Reese was among a handful of farmers asked to participate in the Food Dialogues in L.A. Kristin chronicled her trip through her blog, photos and YouTube videos. Check out links to all Kristin’s Food Dialogue travels and thoughts.
Below is an excerpt of her blog post, Musing of a Hollywood Mom:
“How did I fit into this equation? Why would they invite a small farm mom from Ohio to participate in this dialogue? As our conversation began, I came to realize the importance of a small farmer/mother role at our conversation table...Although small, I have a great appreciation of how large farmers farm. I also understand how both very large and very small farms can serve vital roles in our food supply.
"I often wonder why some in our culture think big is bad and small is good. Why is one better than the other? Why can we not work together to make what we do better, whether big or small?
"What I learned most from my Hollywood adventure was that there is a definite breakdown between the farmers/ranchers and the mom at the grocery store or even the restaurant owner or chef who puts the food on the table...
"For years, people have been saying, 'If you are not hiding anything then let’s talk.' I could not agree more. Let’s come to the table and have civilized dialogues about what consumers of food want to know. More than ever before, farmers are here to listen, not to condemn, but to listen and answer your questions...
"I am not an expert at much, but I sure do have a passion for family, food and agriculture...Let’s put all of our passion to good use and accomplish great things together from the West Coast to the East Coast and all of the farm fields in between.”
Photo credit: Kristin Reese