Mom usually goes all out when cooking Christmas dinner. When she sat down a couple of weeks ago to plan out the edible portion of our festivities this year, there were a few staples she wrote down before even asking us what else we wanted. Aside from the ham and mashed potatoes, we obviously need her broccoli cheese casserole and Grandma’s sauerkraut dish. For dessert, we needed our traditional sugar cookies, mom’s one-of-a-kind orange Jell-o salad, and Grandma’s apple slices. Oh yeah, and the new chocolate lasagna my brother developed, which he aptly calls “death by lasagna.”
If you think about it, food is a central part of all of the holidays we celebrate.
We pick out our sweet’s favorite chocolates for Valentine’s Day. Choose fresh, spring foods for our Easter celebrations. Fire up the grill for burgers, dogs, and brats on the Fourth of July. Allow our kids to go from house to house through the neighborhood collecting candy on Halloween. On Thanksgiving, we go all out with the biggest turkey we can find. Even our birthday parties include the signature cake. Less formal gatherings, like the Super Bowl, get a special menu, too.
Food is a central part of our gatherings with family and friends, and we use it to mark special occasions.
This reality is something we need to remember when we try to talk to people about food issues. Just as farming and agriculture is personal to us, so too is food personal to consumers. Whether it is sharing a cherished family recipe, or trying some new fad diet, what we put in our bodies matters to us. While some of us may care a little bit more about it than others, food it is something all of us share.
Of course, we have seen over the past few years that activist organizations and food celebrities have started to use the connection between food and the holidays as a way to further their agenda. It might not be good enough to buy your sweetheart chocolate made from GMO sugar beets. The only Halloween candy good enough for our kids is the stuff with an organic label. Maybe you are harming your families if you make Christmas dinner including certain additives.
The uptick in holiday activism is just proof of the strong connection between food and the holidays.
Farmers can find opportunities to connect with consumers over food, especially during our family celebrations. For us, food is a much bigger part of our lives than just what we put into our bodies. We literally spend our lives growing and producing it. When we make choices on our farms, we usually consider many of the values we share with consumers. We can reach people by helping them understand our passion for our livelihood.
Beyond just our living, farmers care about food for the same reasons consumers care. We use it to feed and nourish our bodies. We give it to our children to help them grow. We want to eat healthy. We want our food to taste good. We sometimes want to indulge. We consume food to learn about new cultures. We use food to connect with our families. We share food to show we care.
We also use it to celebrate the holidays and special moments of our lives.
This holiday season, as you sit down to enjoy whatever special holiday dishes are unique to your family, remember that connection. It can help you reach consumers throughout the year.
Amanda Zaluckyj blogs under the name The Farmer’s Daughter USA. Her goal is to promote farmers and tackle the misinformation swirling around the U.S. food industry.