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Corn+Soybean Digest

Think Different: Open the food conversation

Okay, you may not think that sharing stories and a photo of a young farm woman on our cover falls within our usual Think Different wheelhouse of in-depth agronomics, data, soil or profit ideas. Well, we like to practice what we preach, and Think Different about what topic we choose to shine a brighter light on for you.

This cover story is about an important crop that needs our attention, our nourishment, our enlightenment. The crop is consumers. The story is of Sara Ross and Kristen Reese and the 100+ other members of CommonGround who are pouring their heart and soul into listening to their urban counterparts to help them gain a better understanding of what farmers do and why.

With the continued rise of polarizing topics in this great country, research data clearly shows that skepticism about today’s food system continues to grow. The anti-GMO, factory farm activists have become adept at spreading their version of farming. Fortunately, groups like CommonGround are slowly beginning to calm the rhetoric, without using the fear, bad science and vitriol that these activists deploy. But more help is needed.

In our cover story, Kristen’s words get to the heart of the matter: “Too many consumers don’t realize that the majority of farms are family farms. We need to change that perspective. CommonGround is a way of sharing what real agriculture is all about.”

Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity, has proof from its 2013 consumer survey that skepticism about today’s food system continues to grow. What is particularly worrisome, he says, is that it’s growing among the most influential consumers in the public discussion on food – women and early adopters. These influencers’ demographics are: better educated, more affluent and they tend to be the gatekeepers of social change.

Arnot believes we can reverse consumer food polarization by being more transparent, by embracing consumer skepticism and by targeting focused activities on those who believe our food system is on the wrong track – women and early adopters.

I suggest a visit to the The Center for Food Integrity’s website and download its 2013 Consumer Trust Research. Also, if these wonderful women of CommonGround and their efforts grabbed your soul, pay it forward by telling some farm women you know – who might like to join this group to help consumers truly understand that we do share values of safe food. Here’s our cover story that you can email to them.

We’d serve ourselves well by permanently adding this story telling task to our weekly To-Do list. Let’s open the food conversation.

I sincerely thank you for reading, for viewing more valuable content on, for subscribing to our newsletters, and for being willing to Think Different.

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