By: Jen Haugen, RD, LD

“Know your farmer, know your food.” is a common quote we see in many places, including the farmer’s market, the supermarket; and even bigger advertising pieces, like commercials, and on social media. But what does it really mean? Many of us may not personally know a farmer, so how do we get the facts about food and agriculture? 

Local farmers do have the opportunity to interact with customers, but what about the farmers who produce crops that go into the national food supply? How do we get to talk to them and hear their perspective? Where should those facts be from and who can we trust?
 
As a former farm-girl myself, what I knew about agriculture in the 1980s and 1990s still holds true as I visit numerous farms both large and small – farmers care for the land they live on; they care for the people and animals who also live on and around that land. Yet, what has changed in agriculture is the technology available to produce the food we need to feed the world.  To learn more about that technology and its benefits, we need to learn more about agriculture. 
 
So what are some ways we can get out of our comfort zone and learn more about food and agriculture from the farmers who produce food for our families?
 
I believe it’s through the real connections that are formed when we open up the dialogue about food and agriculture.
 
Three Ways to Learn About the Food We Eat and the Farmers That Grow and Produce that Food:
 
Learn More About Agriculture: Visit a Farm
If you have the opportunity to go on a farm tour, take it! Tours are filled with behind-the-scenes looks into what goes into growing and producing the foods we eat.  Getting a firsthand view of how farms operate can change your entire perspective and may even shift your thinking. 
 
Being a guest on a farm tour provides an inside look and an opportunity to ask questions you may have about your food. If you hear of the opportunity to visit a farm, I encourage you to do it. Many communities in rural and even urban areas will hold neighborhood events, like farm tours, for the public. 
 
Learn More About Agriculture: Talk to a Farmer
Whether you are on an airplane, or walking through the supermarket, there are opportunities to talk with farmers everywhere you go. Here are some questions you can ask a farmer to help you learn more about the agriculture industry by asking questions to help learn more about the agriculture industry. 
 
  • Why do you farm?
  • What do you grow or produce?
  • What do you do to stay sustainable?
  • What’s one thing you really want me to know about your business?
Of course, these are just a few questions to get started, and the conversation will certainly blossom from there. With the answers to these questions, you are sure to find the values that are important to the farm – they may even be the same values important to you!
 
Learn More About Agriculture: Attend a Farm Dinner
This past August, I volunteered to be a part of a farm dinner, hosted by CommonGround Minnesota. CommonGround is a national organization of women involved in farming who want to be a resource to educate families about food and farming practices.  Many states have led CommonGround initiatives, where they host farm dinners.  These farm dinners allow the opportunity to find common ground – the common values we all share – through a dialogue over dinner on a farm. 
 

To read the full post and more from Jen, visit jenhaugen.com/boosting-the-agriculture-experience-from-where-you-live.

Jen Haugen is part of U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance's Digital Voices Council. To learn more about the program and bloggers who participate, click here.

All opinions expressed are the writer's own. Funded by one or more checkoff programs.