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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Do you want to know about your food?

I remember years ago giving a tour of our warehouse to some friends. They were visiting from Wisconsin and wondered what my office looked like.

So I invited them for a tour.

Our produce warehouse is over 80,000 square feet and much of it is refrigerated. As we walked through the different coolers, my friends commented that when they go to the grocery store, they didn’t give too much thought to where their food came from. They thought it came from the grocery store.

Fast forward 15 years, and most people give more thought about where their food comes from. Thanks to the Food Network and food bloggers, stories and videos about farmers and ranchers are everywhere. If you want to know how a product is grown, you can just “Google it.”

But most of us know that there are other sources of information. There are many organizations who share information (about farming and food, for example) that are NOT the farmers themselves. There are food advocates, consumer groups and more.

Sometimes I find that the information they share is not always the truth. It breaks my heart when I read stories like “the worst fruits and vegetables to eat.” That seems crazy to me. How can fresh produce be bad for you? Yet, there are thousands of consumers who read this information and assume it is THE truth.

News should be reported in a balanced fashion. And that’s why I was thrilled to stumble upon a newly formed group: The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA).


According to the USFRA website, this is the first time agricultural groups at the national, regional and state levels have collaborated on the topic. The USFRA seeks to lead the dialogue and answer Americans’ questions about how we raise our food – while being stewards of the environment, responsibly caring for our animals and maintaining strong businesses and communities.

What I love about my first glance at their website, is that they are launching “Food Dialogues” on September 22, where you can be “at the party” so to speak, be involved in live conversations (on Facebook and via their own website).

A journalist, Claire Shipman and Chef John Besh will be facilitating the conversation. Anyone can ask questions about where their food comes from. And I hope there are people asking about what to do about misinformation.

So many of my friends are farmers. And they are also business people. They have families to feed and communities to support. It is always in their best interest to grow the healthiest food to help feed themselves and others. And they all do it in the most sustainable way possible.

So, I encourage you to check out this website and be a part of the conversation.

And now you know!
Karen

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