Two Books in One Provide Farmers and Foodies Each a Roadmap for Conversation, Decorum and Peace at the Plate
Pink slime. Food labeling. Farm Bill renewal. Biotechnology. Animal welfare. These issues have created a climate between food producers and food buyers as divisive as politics and contentious as religion. No More Food Fights!, a new book out this month, aims to instead bring farmers and foodies together for productive conversations that improve our national food system.
Authored by food and farm advocate and ag marketing pioneer Michele Payn-Knoper, No More Food Fights! Growing a Productive Farm & Food Conversation is the first-ever book to speak to all sides of the food movement. She wrote the book after continuously witnessing the growing divide between farmers and eaters that she believes is causing confusion in the grocery aisles and placing the future of farming at risk.
"A tiny fraction of the population produces our food," Payn-Knoper said. "In fact, more than 98 percent of Americans are several generations removed from first-hand farming experiences, and very few have even visited a farm. Most are very disconnected from and distrusting of modern agriculture.
"At the same time, many farmers have done a poor job of talking about today's farming practices, neglecting to really listen to questions about how food is grown. They're not taking advantage of tools such as social media that could help facilitate the connections to the farm that food buyers crave," she added. In fact, three in five Americans would like to know more about how food is grown and raised, but don't feel they have the time or money to prioritize, according to a recent survey conducted by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance.
"So we are left with a chasm filled by stereotypes, misinformation and a 24/7 media environment taking over the food conversation. No More Food Fights! bridges this divide and helps food producers and eaters find peace at the plate through direct conversation."
Two Books in One Each Aimed at Farmers, Food Buyers
The book's design lends itself to explore both sides of the issue. The "Food" side offers insights to those who are passionate about the food that society consumes chefs, health care professionals, foodies, dietitians and retailers. Flipping the book reveals the "Farm" side, which features insights aimed at those who produce food farmers, agricultural businesses and ranchers.
Throughout the book, Payn-Knoper intersperses more than 35 personal stories from farmers, food scientists, dietitians, healthcare professionals and ranchers, naturally guiding readers to "reach across the plate" to honestly explore food concerns and the critical connection from farm gate to food plate.
"There's no need to have food fights in the grocery aisles," said Phil Lempert, The Supermarket Guru®, NBC News' Today Show food trends editor, author and speaker. "No More Food Fights! provides a fresh look at some of the dilemmas food buyers and farmers both face. More importantly, this book gives ideas to get everyone around the food plate engaged in a conversation."
Food: "Six Senses of a Meaningful Food Conversation"
"People are fascinated by farms but far removed from them and their day-to-day challenges," Payn-Knoper said. "Understandably, they can't identify with farmers because food is so readily available year-round. In some respects, the phenomenal advancements in agriculture since its Green Revolution, namely higher yields that improve our food security, have become farming's modern-day Achilles heel."
The Food side of No More Food Fights! gives people on the food side of the plate six guideposts to engage with and better understand the farm side, each centered around a sensory experience:
Touch: How to get in touch with farmers?
Sight: How to clarify perspectives on food?
Sound: Do you know what questions to ask?
Smell: Does the latest food news pass the sniff test of science, sensationalism or celebrity?
Taste: Do you feel good about your personal food choice?
Common Sense: Remembering the basics in selecting food for your family
Farmers: 6 ? Steps for Engagement Around the Plate
While farmers have made great strides in growing food, they need to take the same strides in growing productive conversation with the non-farm public, Payn-Knoper said. "After all, the conversation about food is happening with or without farmers and ranchers."
The Farm side outlines six ways farmers can take 15 minutes a day to connect with people around the plate, ending with the ? step You - that centers on the farmer's passion.
Who: Find the right people to connect with
What: Identify their hot button issues
Why: Translate farm to fork by speaking in their language
When: Build engagement 15 minutes daily
Where: Know where consumers engage in conversations about food and meet them there
How: Follow an action plan for success
You: Know who and what motivates and inspires you personally to engage
Both sides of the book conclude with a common chapter "Can You Connect at the Center of the Plate?" that encourages producers and consumers to meet in the middle through shared values and hot buttons.
"Agriculture needs to address food buyer concerns in order to be successful in the future," said Mary Shelman, director of the Harvard Business School Agribusiness Program. "Food buyers need to know more facts about where their food comes from. Michele Payn-Knoper bridges those worlds in No More Food Fights! and helps others do the same. It is a must-read."
About Michele Payn-Knoper, Ag Communications Pioneer
A farm girl since birth and a foodie since eating in Italy, Michele is one of North America's leading farm and food advocates. As a professional speaker, she has helped thousands of people in agricultural, dietetic and food audiences connect the farm gate to the food plate.
She is also a communications pioneer, founding #AgChat and #FoodChat in 2009, virtual communities connecting thousands of agriculture and food people - many of whom are featured in No More Food Fights! Michele is an in-demand media resource whose work has been featured across agricultural media, on food panels, and in major media channels such as USA Today and CNN to translate firsthand farm experience to the 98.5% of the population not on a farm.
No More Food Fights! Growing a Productive Farm & Food Conversation is available in print for $16.47 on Feb. 14, 2013, at www.CauseMatters.com, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine bookstores. Digital versions will be available for the iPad, Kindle and Nook in March.
Learn more about Michele at her website www.CauseMatters.com.