By: Katelyn Duncan, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture
Throughout the month of October, there were many great stories shared and we would like to recognize those who went above and beyond to celebrate #AgMonth17. Daily food story posts from Andrea De Roo (@AgKnowledge06), Adrienne Ivey (@AdrienneIvey), and Kristen Gaudet (FarmingFood4u1) provided engaging content for all of us to share. Ranch life posts from Tim Oleksyn (@SouthRanchTim) added a rustic flare to the conversation. Weekly food story challenges to 4-H members (4HSask) engaged a refreshing youth audience in the food story conversation. Lastly, to the many farmers, ranchers, and agriculture industry enthusiasts who provided support at one of the ‘Meet a Farmer’ barbecues in Regina and Saskatoon, your passion for agriculture is appreciated!
Food stories are about building trust, transparency, and understanding of agriculture with consumers in a creative and engaging way. In Saskatchewan we have a lot to be proud of. Farmers and ranchers provide the world with plenty of safe, affordable and healthy food. Our scientists develop innovative solutions to meet growing demand for food, and our producers and agribusiness work together to care for the environment we all rely on. Each October we celebrate these many accomplishments, while acknowledging that we still have work to do.
The food story conversation doesn’t end in October, or at least it shouldn’t. We know that consumers trust farmers, and farmers have a good story to tell. Authentic conversations with consumers are the most effective way to build trust, but effective conversations are best had when we understand what those concerns are.
The Canadian Centre for Food Integrity 2017 Public Trust Research shows that the rising cost of food and keeping healthy food affordable are the top two concerns that consumers have about our food system. In addition to this, consumers top four production concerns are the use of hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and GMOs.
So what does this mean for us? It means that as producers, it is important to increase our own knowledge of production practices and learn to speak in a language that consumers understand. Consumers don’t understand bushels per acre; they understand loaves of bread, and bowls of oatmeal. It also reinforces the importance of participation and engagement in awareness campaigns such as Agriculture Month.
Although October is officially over, efforts to build public trust must continue throughout the entire year. Whether it’s through authentic conversations, social media posts, blogging, or another platform of communication, let’s continue the #OurFoodHasAStory campaign all year, and continue the journey to build public trust in agriculture.