By Michele Payn
When I was 23 years old, I sold bull semen and cow embryos.
Somehow people outside of farming find that to be quite funny. They
bust into full-fledged laughter when I describe my airplane
conversations around answering the question "so how do they get the
semen?" which was always the first question after I explained my
I didn't understand the humor in semen and embryos for quite
some time; I thought it was quite serious business to know the cow
families and breeders well enough to be able to adequately
represent U.S. genetics. Likewise, it's back-breaking work to get
show cattle ready. However, I find myself explaining dairy shows as
cow beauty pageants, complete with the tubs we use as toilets while
our sprayed and glittered cattle walk to the show ring (runway) -
and people always start snickering.
Humor evokes emotion. Emotion results in human
connection. Connection piques curiosity. We don't have to
explain the complex business of farming in one line; we simply have
to create a human connection. Laughter is a big part of that, so
how can you explain our farm and ranch world in a way that makes it
humorous - and relatable - to the general public?
This was one of the greatest challenges I faced in writingFood
Truths from Farm to Table, but I found that people's responses to
little snippets would immediately give me an idea to what was funny
outside of the farm or ranch world. Many times these were
discovered through regular conversation, sending out a tweet or
mentioning it on Facebook.
There's a lot of stress in the world today. People want to feel
good about their food and connecting on a human level helps ease
some of the tension. Consumers may not care about the pedigrees of
selling bull semen, but they do care about the reproductive
advancements bovines have brought to humans. How can you describe
what you do or a practice that will beg for a question to be asked
like "how do they get it?" in my selling semen example?
For example, if you grow hazelnuts in Oregon, you can say you
are a Nutella grower. Or rather than describing yourself as a
monogastric nutritionist, could you claim the title 'pig
dietitian'? When we can evoke a question, we connect on a human
level. That leads to curiosity, which gives you an opportunity to
have a conversation as the other person starts asking
Keep it simple and relate on their terms, even if it means you
have to describe cow beauty pageants. Your ability to take complex
subjects and turn them into "normal" reference points is the
ultimate test. If you succeed, the end result will be a
conversation that leads to a consumer who thinks of you when they
go to the grocery store!
Michele Payn lives on a small farm in west central Indiana,
where she and her daughter enjoy all things pink while working with
their Holsteins. Michele speaks from the intersection of farm and
food, helping thousands of people around the world through her
keynotes, books and training programs. Visit www.causematters.com
or connect with @mpaynspeaker
on social media channels. Her second book, Food Truths from Farm to
Table , is expected early 2017.
Copyright© 2016 Cause Matters Corp. All Rights Reserved.
Reproduction granted for PinkTractor.com.