The holidays are upon us! A time of gift giving, merry making, and festivities. With all of the action, we tend to find ourselves in some unique and not-so-normal social situations and places surrounded by people we don’t always socialize with, family and friends included. While that provides a great opportunity for those involved in agriculture to talk about it (you should probably use my tips and tricks), it also presents a platform for those not so friendly to modern farm production to spout off.
Knowing when to say something, cause a stink, or walk away can be hard.
Don’t worry — I’m here to make the holidays a little less stressful! I’ve created a (slightly snarky and) handy guide to where you are likely to encounter these awkward situations, what you could say if you so choose, and some advice on the best way to actually approach the situation.
Grocery store: With all the trendy marketing labels showing up on food these days, grocery shopping can be stressful on the most average Tuesday evening. But throw in shopping for all the Christmas dinner staples along with the rest of your small town in your small local grocery store, and the stress of the situation is bound to boil over. Enter female millennial looking for the latest in pumpkin spice products. She’s having a mini-breakdown in the middle of the store because they are out of her favorite organic kale, and the only thing left is the pesticide-laden conventional variety! Now would be a really good time to tell her that she has no reason to worry about pesticide residues on food, because they are regulated by the EPA and farmers are required to follow labeling requirements to ensure safety. I suggest confronting her meltdown in the middle of the grocery store. Your neighbors and friends are much more likely to side with you over the temper tantrum.
Work holiday party: The moment you have been dreading all year has arrived — your law firm is having its annual Christmas party! You adamantly promised yourself there was no way you would attend this year, but then your boss insisted you showed up. Of course, you just grabbed another glass of champagne (what’s wrong with beer?) when you somehow get pulled into a discussion about technology with the three managing partners. One of them proudly exclaims that he only purchases food with a non-GMO label because he was poking around on Google and found out how bad that stuff is for us to eat! You definitely need to seize the moment and let him know that, as a proud farmer’s daughter, scientific consensus is that GMOs are just as safe as their non-GMO counterparts. For increased special effects, drain your champagne, deposit the glass on the nearest table, and make a grand exit.
Midnight Mass: You’re standing in line waiting to get communion. Of course, it’s almost 1 a.m., so naturally your mind is wandering to how much you want to put on your favorite Christmas pajamas and slip into bed after a glass of eggnog. That’s when you spot the sweet little blue-haired grandma ahead of you in line. How cute is she?! She reminds you of opening presents and a large Christmas dinner at your grandma’s farm house. That is, until she reaches the pastor handing out those little pieces of bread and loudly (of course, her hearing aid has turned off) asks: “Are these wafers gluten-free? I heard that stuff is really bad for you!” The choir stops and all eyes turn on you, the only wheat farmer in the church. You could take this opportunity to politely calm grandma’s fears by letting her know that unless her doctor has diagnosed her with Celiac’s disease, she has nothing to worry about. But, instead, I suggest playing it off with a shrug and a little Santa-like chuckle. Choose your forum and choose your opponent wisely.
Family dinner: Ah, the traditional Christmas family dinner, also known as the crowning jewel for awkward holiday celebrating. Unfortunately, sister-in-law brought her three unvaccinated rugrats. She proudly announced that she has imposed a “clean” eating regimen for her family, and even brought all of her own food for dinner. Of course, she is more than happy to share with the rest of the family. Now, the gut reaction might be to explain to dear sister-in-law that dieticians are concerned about super restrictive and food-shaming type diets, including her “clean” eating obsession. However, for the sake of family unity and preservation, and because this is obviously the best time to talk about politics, leave this one alone and change the subject. “So, how about that Trump victory, eh?!”