You don’t need a Venn Diagram to figure out that nutrition and agriculture have an obvious overlap: food! What may be less clear is the role Dietitians play in sharing agricultural information. As consumers get further from the farm, and more curious about their food, Dietitians are becoming a major touchpoint for food questions beyond nutrition.
Last week we had the pleasure of attending Produce for Better Health’s The Consumer Connection. The event brings together people from across the produce industry for a shared cause: promoting consumption of fruits and vegetables. Okanagan Specialty Fruits was not only honored with a Fruits & Veggies – More Matters Industry Role Model award; Jenn Armen, our Director of Business Development and Marketing, had the opportunity to moderate a panel on agriculture.
For the Brag About Ag panel, Jenn was joined by three registered dietitians who go out of their way to share agriculture information: Amber Pankonin, Carol Harrison, and Leah McGrath. The panelists come from varied backgrounds, but all see the value in agriculture and appreciate the hard work of farmers who grow our food. Some of our favorite recommendations by the panelists were:
- Go to the source: The panelists quickly agreed on the best place to learn about farming – from the farmers themselves. Dietitians can work to build relationships with farmers by meeting with growers, going on farm tours, and connecting with marketing boards. Other great sources of information include the USDA and FDA websites, as well as University Agriculture Extension programs.
- You don’t have to answer right away: While you might know some answers off the top of your head, agriculture is a multifaceted industry and it’s impossible to know everything. Listen to the question and find out more about where this person is coming from, then you can do your research to ensure you’re giving the best possible answer.
- But do make sure you answer: Misinformation causes confusion and the result, as many dietitians have noticed, is that people are unnecessarily afraid of their food. Responding to questions about agriculture (and food in general!), or even just pointing consumers to good resources, can help ensure that consumers receive science based information and reduce these food fears.
People are getting further from the farm, and we can all help share agriculture’s story. Carol summed it up nicely when she said “Our role is to brag about ag: understand it, celebrate it, and support it”. We hope you’ll join us in bragging about ag!