By Michele Payn
Consider your table…does it expand as you add more people for
holidays, celebrations and family time? Do you do everything you
can to include others when you're hosting? Most of us worry about
having enough food, the perfect recipe timed to come out on time
and the right mix of people around our table.
Translating farm to food is no different. As the saying goes "If
you are more fortunate than others, build a longer table, not
higher fences." If you are fortunate enough to be in agriculture,
it's time we figure out how to build a bigger table and include
those without farm and ranch roots.
How can you build a longer table to welcome people outside of
agriculture? How can you not put up higher fences, but take
down the perceived fences of modern farming and ranching. How can
you make more people feel welcome around your farm table?
Make it personal. Every time.
Authoring Food Truths from Farm to Table taught me a
lot, even after 15 years in agricultural advocacy. I learned
the way to building a longer table and translating the farm world
is relating an issue in a personal way.
For example, when discussing genetically modified organisms,
it's useful to know the differences in genetic techniques (e.g.
seedless watermelons are not GMO, but achieved through pollen
according to Dr. Kevin Folta) before arguing about them.
Biotechnology and related gene editing techniques are complex,
requiring a solid understanding before translating.
However, it's even more useful to ask if they know someone
impacted by diabetes, then offer how insulin is a biotechnology
product. For example, when I was interviewing Dale Leftwich, a
Canadian canola grower, over Skype. As one of the farmers featured
in the book, he talked about the medical value of GMOs.
Dale has a daughter who was diagnosed with diabetes at age
seven. "Life is better because of a stable source of insulin
due to a GMO process with bacteria producing insulin. There's an
abundant source of consistent, cost effective insulin due to
What's the difference between the seedless watermelon and
insulin example? From an agronomic standpoint, it may make more
sense to you to discuss plant breeding. However, consider the
millions of people impacted by diabetes. It is rare to not know
someone affected. In other words, diabetes is personal to most
Taking an emotional issue like GMOs and relating technology in a
personal, non-threatening way can sometimes instantly show the
importance of why we use technology. In other words, it opens minds
by touching hearts.
Building a longer table is not about imparting technical
knowledge - that's more likely to put up fences. Rather, a longer
table can be built by finding ways to relate on a human level. How
can you relate the science and data of agriculture in a more
personal way to make your table more inviting?
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 www.causematters.com or
connect with @mpaynspeaker
on social media channels. Her second book, Food Truths from Farm to
Table, is expected late 2016.
Copyright© 2016 Cause Matters Corp. All
Rights Reserved. Reproduction granted for PinkTractor.com.