How Can You Translate Farm to Food?

By Michele Payn

The wonder of a story. The power of words. Do you ever scratch your head about how to connect with the public in a time when people are obsessed by bathrooms, gorillas and election antics?

As a farm woman, do you feel like you speak a different language than other women? You're often in boots, sweaty or wearing "odor of manure" perfume. You live and work in man's world. How can you connect with people who live in the city, call a cul-de-sac home, or have no idea how itchy chaff in the bra is?  It's simpler than you might think - connect on commonalities. Rather than focusing on where you live, what you do and why it makes you different - consider what you have in common with others.

I learned this firsthand while writing my second book, Food Truths from Farm to Table: 25 Surprising Ways to Shop & Eat Without Guilt.Trust me, after trying to relate 80,000 words around food myths and farming - I understand your angst.

However, after talking with several moms and grocery shoppers in informal settings, I discovered that connecting farm and food is simpler than we like to think. "I just want to feel good about what I'm doing for my family" was what I heard over and over. They want to see, feel and know the human connections behind their food.

When I was speaking for a group of dietitians a few years ago, I heard over and over that people are confused about their food - and a big part of that is not knowing how it is produced. "Where does our food come from? How can we trust it if we don't know who is producing it and what they are doing?" asked a registered dietitian in the first year of her career.

I thought, "isn't it common sense that ranchers and farm families are growing the plants and animals to feed you?"

I have come to understand that the people - and stories - of agriculture are common sense to me because I grew up in agriculture. My roots are firmly planted in the world where food is grown.  Since you're reading this at Pink Tractor, I'm guessing yours are, too.

Our common sense isn't same as the rest of the world. It's time to go beyond "advocacy" - we have to learn to translate farm to food. It's about finding your everyday stories as a mom, wife, baker, pet owner, scientist, grandma, or business owner - and sharing them. In short, it's about connecting with through finding examples in your life that relate to others.

For example:

Explaining milking and mastitis by way of breast pumps and breastfeeding is really funny to a lot of people.

Bug and weeds in the garden makes crop farming relatable to gardeners when the dots are connected.

My two 125-pound Great Pyrenees provide fodder for animal care relatable to most pet owners.

Mom stories!

How can we translate farming and ranching to answer questions about food? Join me here over the next several months, where I'll be sharing examples and experiences from the intersection of farm and food. In the meantime, what happened to you today that is a story waiting to be shared?


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 and training programs. Visit or connect with @mpaynspeaker on social media channels. Her second book Food Truths from Farm to Table is expected late 2016.

Copyright 206 Cause Matters Corp. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction granted for

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