Moms don’t want the company line when it comes to food. They want the truth, and they want to feel good about the food they’re buying and preparing for their families. When it comes to meals away from home, they don’t want to feel guilty because they run by McDonald’s every now and then to feed their kids. They shouldn’t.
There’s a tremendous amount of variation in type, variety, calorie count, fat and sugar content, and nutritional value of the food available to you in this country. But when it comes to food safety, you can walk into a grocery store, pick up anything, and not have to worry about taking it home and feeding it to your kids (I’ll talk about food safety in a future post). Interestingly, people sometimes don’t want to take responsibility for their role in the process. Food safety also involves preparation and storage of food at home. Lots of modern-day moms didn’t grow up learning how to cook so there’s a lack of knowledge about food in general. I try to address that in my blog, Mom at the Meat Counter. In fact, I’m sometimes sneakily taking pictures in the grocery store.
To help give some of these moms a better understanding of modern agriculture, we have a program called, “Moms on the Farm,” an idea that started in South Dakota. We take non-ag moms on tours of farms in northwest Arkansas, where we have a few dairies, lots of chickens and some cow-calf operations. At the cattle operation, one participant asked the owner if she sold her cattle to Wal-Mart. As if she just drove up to the back door of a WalMart and dropped her cows off.
That’s how huge the “disconnect” really is. Most consumers don’t understand that those calves are likely going to go from Arkansas to a stocker unit in Oklahoma, then maybe to a feedlot in Kansas, and then they might be harvested in Texas. In actuality, they’re probably five or six steps away from WalMart! As an industry, we haven’t done the best job of telling consumers how the process works. But we must, if we want consumers to have trust in our U.S. food system. They want more information about how their food is grown, how it’s harvested, and how it gets from the farm to their tables, and we’re the ones who can provide the facts. I’m trying to do my part with my blog, Mom at the Meat Counter. Tell me what you’re doing, and let’s get more farmers and ranchers reaching out to consumers in unique and different ways.