I was at a meeting the other day discussing ways to handle negative social media interaction regarding agriculture. It's not an uncommon occurrence these days. With Google, everyone is an "expert"! The internet is full of knowledge with just about any opinion backed by a "valid" website supporting any view.
A person running the training made reference to what consumers believe is the idyllic life we live on farms. The idea of sheep, pigs, cattle and an old gray mare sharing a pasture on the hill, only sleeping in the barn at night in a mound of straw snuggled up together.
"People think farms look just like they do in children's books," she said.
My immediate reaction (as well as words out loud) were, "That's stupid, I don't think trains can talk because I read 'Thomas the Tank Engine' books to my kids when they were little."
My point? When did children's books become resources? Don't get me wrong, some children's books are valid resources. My friend Katie Olthoff recently wrote a book about turkey farming that's both a children's book as well as a resource. There are children's books that are resources but surely your average person doesn't believe that all children's books are a depiction of true life.
Take "Johnny Tractor." Is your average consumer that gullible? I don't think so. They say the average person is two to three generations removed from the farm, but does that mean they reference children's books as the way their ancestors farmed and raised food and therefore think we still farm today?
While I am fully aware there are extremists among us, I sometimes wonder if we are giving the average consumer enough credit or enough of our attention. We aren't going to sway an extremist but we do have a chance at an intelligent exchange of ideas with consumers interested in knowing the truth.