Monday, July 30, 2018

Track The Facts

Track The Facts

Image result for new york subwayIn the summer of 2016, my family took a vacation to New York. A few of the stops along the way included spending a night in Indiana with our cousins, viewing the cascading Niagara Falls from Canada, and a day in Cooperstown, where the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame is. All of these smaller stops led up to the main event: New York City. We did everything from going to see Lady Liberty in all her glory to seeing the Blue Man Group in an off-Broadway theater (that was so cool, we even got a painting that they made on stage!). One of the biggest obstacles we faced during our time in the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of” (yes, I love that song and listened to it basically the whole way there) was transportation. We drove, but it was suggested to us by a friend, that we park it in a garage for the five days and use public transportation, so that's exactly what we did. The first morning, we got up and prepared to ride a New York subway train for the first time, and on that subway ride, we stuck out like a stain on a white shirt. We had no clue how the subway worked. Yes, we were that midwestern tourist family. Well, eventually we figured it out, but not until we were helped out and had the process explained to us.
Image result for miracle of birth centerLooking back, I can clearly see how this story relates to all of us as we advocate for agriculture, food and natural resources. What do you think the people who rode the subway on a daily basis thought about us? I am pretty sure they were thinking “ugh, tourists.” We weren’t dumb, arrogant, or ignorant, we just had not been introduced to a subway system as complicated as the one in New York. How does this apply to advocates? Each person has their own sets of experiences that defines their personality and shapes their beliefs and actions. However, we also need to know the facts. I also know that for some of us, the only knowledge of agriculture we have has come from advertisements, movies and our agriculture education classes. For example, many people have opinions about agricultural topics like genetically modified organisms (GMO) but worry about a lot of crops that aren’t modified. In fact, only 10 crops have GMO varieties: alfalfa, apples, canola, corn (field and sweet), cotton, papaya, potatoes, soybeans, squash and sugar beets.
To have a conversation with people who may be unsure about what we eat, or the practices used to get food to our table, we must first acknowledge that we all have a different set of experiences and knowledge. Once we acknowledge that, we can affirm that everyone wants safe, affordable, and nutritious food, and build off of that connection to have a meaningful conversation. Finding what we have in common opens the door to share our stories and facts about agriculture production. So the next time we come across a situation in which we can advocate by sharing our story, whether it be at our local grocery stores or at the CHS Miracle of Birth Center at the Minnesota State Fair, let’s try to build a connection, so that we can positively shed a light on the wonderful world of agriculture and learn from each other.

Stationed by the Door,
H. James Mathiowetz

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