Letter to the Editor: Do you know where your food comes from?

Kalli Weber

Every day, each and every one of us is acting as a consumer of food. However, having a conversation about where your food comes from is getting harder as people become more disconnected with agriculture. 

Agricultural groups from across the United States have banded together to form an educational group called the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. This alliance consists of more than 80 farmer- and rancher-led organizations and partners representing virtually all aspects of agriculture. The purpose of this group is to engage in dialogue with consumers who have questions about how today’s food is grown and raised. 

Not only as an agriculturalist should we develop this understanding, but also simply as consumers of food. It is extremely important that we learn where our food comes from and how it is produced.

Growing up on a family farm, I have always had a passion and curiosity for how crops were grown. I remember the age when I was finally old enough to begin helping my own father with harvest. I had hundreds of questions for him whether it be about the buttons in the combine or why the corn was planted the way that it was. 

There was one single question that I haven’t forgotten ever since I was a little girl. I asked my father where the crops went after they left our farm, and whom did they feed?

“They will feed lots and lots of people,” he said, “and they will go all over.” I was young then and I didn’t know much about farming or agriculture. I did know, nonetheless, that my dad was feeding a lot of people. 

To me, that was an inspiring fact.

Soon, you, too, will have the opportunity to become inspired by how food and crops are produced and how they feed people all over the world: people like you and me. Nov. 19 is the date in which this dialogue approach is coming to Ames on Iowa State’s campus. 

The Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, in cooperation with the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance will host “Food Dialogues: Iowa,” an event designed to answer questions about how food is grown and raised. This event is mirrored across the nation and it brings together experts on food issues, including farmers, for a panel discussion. 

The dialogues have been in Boston, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and more. We are extremely fortunate to be able to say that the dialogue will also be right here in Ames.  

Previous food dialogues have covered issues dealing with food production, livestock and labeling. The “Food Dialogues: Iowa” event will focus on Genetically Modified Organisms, organically grown food and the definition of local foods. The speakers include Wayne Parrott, from the University of Georgia; organic farmer Larry Cleverley; conventional crop and livestock farmer Wayne Humphreys; turkey farmer Katie Olthoff; crop researcher John Schillinger; and Dave Murphy, of Food Democracy Now!

As someone in agriculture, I see the value of communication and an open dialogue with consumers about where their food comes from. We should all know what is being served on our plates and the route that it took to get there. 

I sincerely hope you can make time to join the event in person, or online, on Tuesday, Nov. 19, from 7 to 8:30 p.m at the Scheman Building. Parking will be available at no cost on the north side of the Scheman Building. 

Follow U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance on Twitter @USFRA using #FoodD, or on Facebook. at www.facebook.com/usfarmersandranchers. Iowa Corn’s social channels will also be covering the event on Twitter @iowa_corn and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/IowaCorn.