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Communication or Consumption

Are we talking about food or learning how to prepare it?

I read a recent report that shows our intake of fruits and vegetables is (still) on the decline and rather dismal. When we consider how many headlines there are about what to eat to support health (#spoileralert all five food groups play a role!), this is clearly a topic that deserves attention, both personally and professionally.

Social media and hashtags are super visible. However, sharing beautiful pictures of farms and food is art – not necessarily nutrition education. Images of perfectly arranged food shot with gorgeous lighting can certainly be motivating to some, however, for most of us (myself included), these images are not really what our meals or snacks look like. Have you seen the #nailedit hilariousness on Pinterest?

Now, using a picture to catch attention for awesome stories about what is really happening on farms and on our plates can be super smart. Especially if it’s done from a point of view to answer the “why we do what we do” or “why this food helps us (and PS it tastes amazing!)”. But…if the focus is on what is being said versus what is actually being done, it’s a missed opportunity.

Let’s stop chasing conversations with art and facts or figures alone. Instead, let’s focus on “how-to” and practical advice to take action. Let me give you some examples:

How do you properly wash fruits and vegetables?

Can you salvage fruits and veggies that don’t look so great?

How do you cook pulses? (and ps what are they? 😉 )

How do you know when chicken/fish/beef/pork are properly cooked?

How long can you store ingredients and leftovers?

How much do I actually need to eat?

Why and how do farmers grow and raise what they do?

These are the types of questions that, if answered properly by the experts, could help improve confidence in buying and preparing nutrient rich foods at home.

Taste and price lead the reasons why people buy what they do. Followed by convenience and a whole other slew of things. Food choice is personal. Cooking abilities range from zero to hero. This is what we need to keep in mind as we go about trying to change the world.

Consider ourselves problem solvers from the farm to the table. Use this lens to craft stories, ask and answer questions, and help people get better at knowing details needed to make informed, confident choices.

If you are the thought leader, start with answering the “what is the goal” question. Communication campaigns are very different than consumption campaigns. Is it about impressions? Or is it about inspiring and leading to action to buy, prepare, and eat nutrient rich foods? Is it about understanding what is happening or defending it?

If you are what everyone calls a “consumer” (I prefer to say people or individuals because you aren’t a consumer until you are actually consuming something, but I digress…), start with finding YOUR why. Why do you eat what you do? What is your goal regarding health and self care? Make it specific – this “I want to be healthier” is too willy nilly. Is it about your blood pressure? Is it about supporting your overall health and choosing foods that provide the most nutrition you can get while tasting delicious?

Start with the vision of what you are trying to achieve, because it’s a whole lot easier to achieve success if you know what you are trying to accomplish and what steps will help get you there.

What goal(s) will you set for yourself next?

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.