Jolley: Five Minutes with Michele Payn-Knoper and the food fight
My goal is to move people toward connecting at the center of the plate, which is the closing chapter - and the only one that is identical on the both sides of the book. Farmers and ranchers, along with chefs and dietitians, offer examples to give dimension to the 6.5 steps. I'd point to these 35+ contributors as case studies of ways to connect with those not on a farm or ranch. A half dozen from the "do not" list, which are positioned as rotten vegetables in the book, are: don't assume you need to educate (you may be the one who needs to be educated), don't wait to react to the next issue, don't go on the defensive when asked a questions about agriculture, don't dump science and data, don't forget to ask questions & listen, and don't pretend agriculture is perfect.
Q. Thousands of people read Cattlenetwork. What would you like to say to them?
A. Please know that your voice is needed. This isn't about winning a battle; it's about protecting your future. Agriculture's ability to connect with others around the food plate will directly determine if you can choose to farm the way you see fit. Don't wait until the next nasty video, 'pink slime' case or claims about antibiotics. Today is your opportunity to lead the discussion - tomorrow is your opportunity to respond.
Take 15 minutes to proactively reach out to people with questions about their food. Figure out who it makes sense for you to personally focus on. Ask them questions. Demonstrate how much you care and why. Reaching across the plate does not mean we will agree on every issue, but it does mean that we care enough to make a connection. Hopefully No More Food Fights! will help you do that while growing a more productive conversation around farm and food.
Chuck Jolley is a free lance writer, based in Kansas City, who covers a wide range of ag industry topics for Vance Publishing.