My job at the Ohio Pork Council has led to good things like access to many meals of properly cooked pork, a bi-weekly pay check and my recent marriage to Joe, aka the Turkey Farmer. He is amazing!
We’ve had some differences to work through, like living two hours apart, as in who would move and change jobs and food preferences like turkey versus pork (just kidding, we NEVER fight about protein, we just eat it). Another topic of much discussion is we’re both Christians, but one of us attended a Protestant Church and the other a Catholic Church.
The two of us made the moving decision on our own; this was a big decision, but one that we were equipped to work through together. The protein drama is purely make-believe. Making a decision about church for our family has taken study, time, thought and prayer. We spent a lot of time reading while dating and learning from others whom we trust and respect.
I can draw so many parallels between much of what I’ve learned regarding church to a person who has suddenly become more interested in food. Circumstances in people’s life change, possibly health status changes, or family size changes, or someone develops a hobby or interest in food and cooking. These reasons might prompt a person to study and learn more about their food and the food system in the United States.
An unexpected relationship sparked a great deal of honest inquiry in my life into a very personal topic.
We’ve asked questions and listened. We’ve worked to actively listen and understand the new acronyms and how different study group opportunities (outside of regular worship) work. After doing some homework the next step was a meeting to learn with church staff to learn more.
The meeting was held. There was brief and calm sharing, some questions were exchanged and some concerns were shared.
A response was given that included a suggestion that one of our past upbringings was “unfortunate” and “incomplete”. There were also misconceptions addressed that neither of us harbored.
Discussion resulted in confusion. That conversation did not grow our interest in participating or supporting this group. We had done homework, we’d genuinely tried to learn, and the meeting was held with the intention to put effort into learning more. Yet, this conversation did not bring any more clarity to our lives.
I’m grateful for the deep rooted faith and personal experiences that we each have which were not swayed by a single conversation. We’ve learned and grown in our faith, I wish the same for you.
I could look back and critique every aspect of my life and find many faults. Being wrong often, has been part of my human experience, so I’m not upset at this person. I truly believe this conversation became tough because of deep personal beliefs that could’ve been better communicated to bridge the gap between us and them.
I think many of us can really feel empathy and wonder how this happened. How could someone called to love people come across so cold and disconnected?
How often do we as farmers, confident in what we do, why we do it and how we do it inadvertently talk to our customers just to leave them more confused? How often do we as farmers so often unintentionally come across as cold and disconnected to the people that buy our products? When the answer to a question is so obvious that it’s just silly, how do we respond? Do we invest enough time to really think through a sincere and honest answer? I’ve found the people asking (the same people that buy what we grow) just honestly want to know what we’re doing and why and how that may affect their body.
There was no personal harm meant by disagreeing in our discussion, and there’s rarely that intention when food is the hot topic.
I’m writing this for the purpose of learning. We’re all human, and we all have opportunities to improve.
Here are some tips that could improve our future conversations about food and farming:
-Know what you do on the farm and be able to talk about it in very simple terms
-Know what you believe and be able to share from your personal experiences
-Think of each person as valuable and worth the time to talk or type with
Those of us involved in production agriculture have heard that we are less than 2% of the US population. We know that we need to do more to tell our story, the story of our food, our family farms, the land, etc.
My hope is that the non-farming public would feel good about eating after talking to a farmer.
I’ve worked to improve how I share my personal story. I’m nowhere close to having all the answers, but I truly believe having genuine conversations is worthy of our time and beneficial for our future.