Health Professional

The Complexity of Telling the Simple Truth about Food

Agriculture is complex. Food is complex. Food comes from Agriculture. Let’s dig in.

In my recent travels and interactions with colleagues who share the job of helping educate the public about food, nutrition, and agriculture related to their purchasing decisions and health, it’s occurred to me that telling the truth and helping people understand the countless nuances of nutrition and agriculture in the quagmire of noise social media and reality television provide as a consistent backdrop is becoming a bit like spitting into the ocean. Now that’s a long sentence with so much to think about.

When asked, people have told me they watch reality shows with appalling behavior between people because it makes them feel better about themselves. Uh oh… What do we do when there’s an important story to tell? Like, say, where our food comes from or how our food choices actually impact our health today and over time? How does this constant barrage of negative, awful person-to-person behavior impact our ability to believe the truth and find the credible expert?

Let’s spend our time paying attention to honest, hard working people who treat each other, animals, plants, and the land with respect. Maybe we could feel better about ourselves by thinking that there are people dedicating their lives to growing and raising food to nourish us. That these same people are managing natural resources to the best of their ability to do this. Now that feels nice and is kind of mind blowing, if you think about it. No matter how you choose to eat, someone is out there tending to your food as it grows, every single day, so you can eat.  I have attended conferences where farmers got a standing ovation when taking the stage and after presenting. Rightfully so.

I had the good fortune of having a farmer for a grandpa and currently, of working for farmers in my day job as well as interacting with wonderful agriculture resources in both my job and my volunteer work. Surprisingly, most of our population cannot say the same thing. So let me ask you an honest question – if there was a TV show that portrayed the seven day a week, 24-7 job of caring for animals and crops and the land, would you watch?

What if the only drama that particular day was a live birth of an animal or worrying about whether or not the weather would be right for planting crops?

Honor the farmers and the process of agriculture. Learn about modern farming on all types and sizes of farms and how farmers manage the natural resources we need to survive every day.

Next time you want to feel good and realize how lucky we are to have the food options we do in this country, watch a video from a real farm, talk to a farmer about what they do and why they do it. Focus on all the amazing things that are happening around us that can benefit us and our lovely planet, like this.

By Kim Kirchherr

I am a dietitian working in food and fiber (agriculture) through retail, addressing opportunities to make things better for people and planet.