Do you ever feel that you are already on defense when you talk to someone about where their food comes from?
I do. And I’m not a farmer. But I work for dairy farmers and I’m passionate about making sure that their customers know they work hard, take care of their animals and produce a great product, which is made into some of the finest foods they can feast on like cheese, ice cream, yogurt, butter and just plain milk.
But when I get into conversations about what I do and who I work for, many new acquaintances and friends have a very different view of how their food is produced. Especially young people.
Why is that?
Well, I have a few thoughts on this and maybe you do too but I believe the biggest one is that they don’t normally go to farms.
You see, I was raised on one and my brother still farms back in Missouri so I know what happens on a farm. I’ve been there and seen that.
But many people haven’t.
Most of their knowledge of farms comes from other sources like the media. And they see most of that through the lens of the Internet via social media and search.
And if you’ve been out there on the web – searching and scanning through popular social feeds – you’ll notice that it’s pretty much a one-sided conversation.
But it doesn’t have to be.
In fact one of the most trusted voices is farmer, according to Pew Research. The unfortunate thing is that there isn’t a whole lot of farmers working the land like there used to be (less than 2% of Americans directly involved in farming) and even less spending much time talking to their customers about how they farm.
But it doesn’t need to be this way. And it doesn’t need to take up all your free time.
In fact, that little device (aka smartphone) you carry around with you to help connect you back to the house, to put in your data about the animals you are caring for, and as well as lets you play some pretty fun games like Candy Crush (everyone plays) can help you have a conversation with some of your favorite people – your customers.
I know you are on social networks (67% of rural areas are using social networks) and I know you chat with other farmers online (I follow your feeds).
But maybe you’re worried about the conversation or maybe even having a confrontation online with someone you don’t know.
Well, I’m not going to lie to you – it will probably happen. But there’s lots of help out here as well on how to handle it. I’ve written a blog post about arguing online.
In fact, I’m going to list a bunch of farmers and advocates below who you can depend on and reach out to if you need help myself included.
If we continue down a path of not joining the conversation then it’s going to keep going this way – one-sided and we’ll always be on the defense. Trust is built on relationships. Relationships are built through conversations.
We need you to help join us in the conversation. Will you?
These are a great bunch of guys and gals who are always happy to help the conversation continue – that are making the extra effort (by the way, if I missed you and you want to be added to the group – just email me) and are willing to put themselves out there so their customers can chat directly with them.
It’s really the only way to communicate anymore and it’s really the way it should be. I love talking directly with the person I’ve buying from – that I’m trusting with my food – and everyone expects it.
Are you ready to join the conversation?