Michelle Miller used to be that city girl who completely feared her food and spent way too much money on it. So when it comes to talking to consumers about food choices and farming practices, she’s quite comfortable.
“I was that girl who was really confused and didn’t know what to buy and had a lot of questions about food,” Miller said. “Everyone knows a doctor or a teacher, but no one really gets to talk to a farmer or a scientist.”
We had the privilege to hear our very own columnist, aka the Farm Babe, speak last week during a Hungry for Truth panel session at the Ag PhD Field Day in Baltic, South Dakota, where she gave some great tips on connecting with the consumer:
- Put it in terms they can understand. The fact is consumers really want transparency and facts ease concerns, Miller said. For example, when Miller wanted to explain how much Roundup is actually used on a field, she put it into less mathematical terms but more of a visual and simple concept … less than two soda cans of glysophate is used over an entire football field.
- Use human analogies. Why do we use pesticides? So food is not lost. The same could be said about many products humans use. Why do we use bug spray or sunscreen? It’s all about protection.
- Have patience. There is always going to be that friend or relative who doesn’t get it and it’s often not the farmers themselves who are the brunt of it, but rather an overlying mistrust of mega corporations and big government. Miller says, it takes time, but if you can reach one, you can teach one. You also can’t change minds overnight.
- Talk about how much better we have gotten at farming. GMOs allow us to be better environmental stewards. More than 95 percent of farmers have adopted these seed genetics so we can use less fuel, less tillage, less pesticides, etc. The science is so much more advanced … in fact everything around us is more technologically advanced, why wouldn’t agriculture be too?
- When it comes to science, use your resources. Miller suggests looking up Dr. Kevin Folta, GMO Answers, Genetic Literacy Project, and Ray Archuleta to start.
“If we keep talking to each other, we are not going to get anywhere,” Miller said. “We need to find that common ground to explain.”