Today is the information age. For the agriculture industry, this is part of a ‘moo’vement. Consumers want to know how their food is grown, what is added or used in the process from pasture to plate and what makes the food healthy or produced ‘safely’ in their eyes.
Along with this factual information, we commonly interact with more ‘entertaining’ information on the Internet. Buzzfeed is a website for this entertainment purpose. Have you taken a quiz during your lunch break to see “which state you should live in” or “which Ryan Gosling movie character should you marry?” I’ll admit, I have! It’s fun and gives you a brief reprieve from another task you may have been doing. The past few days, some of my Facebook friends were sharing a different type of post from Buzzfeed instead of the usual quiz.
At the Community on Buzzfeed page, the American Meat Institute shared “15 Common Meat Myths That Need to Be Crushed For Good.” I highly encourage you to read through them. Growing up in ag myself and with livestock no less, there were a few on the list I was not familiar with. However, it was once I scrolled down to the comments section of the page that my interest peaked.
There were some readers who were pleased with the information shared. Many were from a farming background, but some were not. There were also critics who felt American Meat Institute was just ‘tooting their own horns of the corporate world’ and ‘feeding consumers false information’. Yes, it explicitly says that the post was created by the user and not the Buzzfeed editors. However, why are readers taking this stance as inaccuracy?
|Shorthorn cow and newborn calf on Weihl Farms.|
How can we bridge that gap of concern and sometimes inaccurate thoughts? We can’t sway the 20 percent of society who have already focused against the industry. But the 60 percent in the middle group who remain unsure and can be influenced are who needs our help as the remaining 20 percent for agriculture. We need to join the movement. Society needs not just sources like AMI sharing info, but farmers and growers in local communities to “meat these myths” and share them with the public. Trust is built quickly through personal relationships. Therefore, we need to build trust at farmers markets, grocery stores and on our farms and ranches to overcome the blurred lines of the food industry and mass media.
Just yesterday, I helped birth a calf in the pasture. That heifer will add to the food chain either by being raised for a beef heifer or to be kept for breeding and reproduce herself. Until she reaches that age of maturity at around 6 months, it is up to our family to help her and the cow adjust and grow to be a healthy heifer (young female bovine). It is humbling to be on the farm to witness this process and I understand that not everyone can have this opportunity. But, that makes it my responsibility and that of other agriculturalists to share it for those who can’t witness firsthand.