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Kitchen Sink Discussions

December 13, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPerhaps the chasm of lifestyles is no better filled than with kitchen sink discussions. In trying to carry on conversations with people who have questions about agriculture, many of us in agriculture try to be open to those discussions about what we do. Then trouble shows up. The topic varies.

Sometimes that’s animal care. Sometimes it’s dealing with challenges. Sometimes it’s undercover videos. Sometimes it’s cruelty. Sometimes it’s GMO seed. Sometimes it’s management practices, such as no till. Sometimes it’s things like cotton that people see every day but don’t know how it’s produced. Sometimes it’s antibiotics. Environmental issues. Political issues. And if we have a group of us, with folks in every segment with expertise to answer truthfully questions on topic, some think it’s “ganging up” on those who don’t know (rather than trying to have accurate information quickly accessible!).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYet it never fails – a news report and every criticism of farmers, agriculture, food production and America itself comes out. It starts about antibiotics and ends up about GMOs, Monsanto, hormones, pumping up meat animals with antibiotics and hormones, chemicals, contamination, organic, European safety (most forget the horse meat in beef in these conversations!) and a host of other things. Everything up to and including the kitchen sink. Thus, kitchen sink discussions. Anything goes and it circles around connecting things that aren’t really connected. It is a great way to confuse further those who don’t know and genuinely want answers.

The train of thought derails. It starts, for example, about the use of antibiotics in animal production. Then someone mentions hormones, MRSA, Monsanto, GMO, evil factory farms…sprinkle in some political criticism and few remember, it seems, the original question! Then, it’s said, people don’t understand why *this* (whatever *this* is in the news) is in their food that they don’t know about because it’s all balled up worse than a 500 foot string of Christmas lights.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI can’t help but think some enjoy that chaos. It’s as if when people start to get an answer, they must interject one more questionable comment. They disrespect, namecall, swear and insult. These things do nothing to foster communication, much less answer comments.

There are many involved in agriculture happy to answer questions from those with sincere questions. We ask that you persist, and ignore those seeking to cause conversational chaos.

With that, maybe, just maybe, the bridge of discussion can hold some answers, and work to eliminate the fear of the unknown that it seems so many have. Let’s end the kitchen sink discussions going forward. Let’s create an information exchange that empowers food choices for all.

That creates change. It reduces the battle for labels and wasted money. It engages conversation from those doing, not just who saw it on the internet. I recently saw a comment that an animal is put down and it goes quickly on the movies. Remember folks – movies have talking animals and dancing penguins.

Let’s vow to, in 2014, if we don’t know find out. Ask. Increase communications and targeted discussions about your food. There are many ways to do so – click the farmer blogger link to the right. Check out #agchat or #foodchat or #FoodD on Twitter. Look for FoodChat  or the Truth About Agriculture, I Am Agriculture Proud on Facebook. There’s also the Eatocracy site. If all that fails, leave a message here and I will find someone to address the topic or question you have in mind.

Ban the kitchen sink arguments as unproductive, old fashioned units that don’t work. Learning about your food supply is easier than ever, right at your fingertips. Let’s connect!

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