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Recently I was engaged in a conversation on the role of production agriculture in the food chain. Interestingly, the main topic of this conversation revolved around the disconnect between production agriculture and the people who are actually purchasing the products. If you ask a school-aged kid today where their food comes from, how many say the grocery store? I am will to bet that this number is much larger than what we think. Fortunately, for us, we are located in a rural area where production agriculture is critical to the local economy. However, even in this setting, there are still children who think that food comes from grocery stores. As villages become towns, and towns become cities and cities become urban metropolises, this number likely grows. So where it the disconnect and what can we do about it? If we look closely at the diagram below, it is easy to see why the production side can be an afterthought at times. Food production is just 1 of 7 parts of our food system. There is distribution, food processing, marketing, purchasing (groceries), preparation and consumption, and then recycling/recovery of waste materials. Actually, this would likely be considered to be a very simplified version of what happens as there are middlemen involved in most of these steps.
So what do we do? We need to educate. We need to take every opportunity possible to stand in front of a crowd and teach them about not only what we do, but how we do it. Agriculture has made some rapid changes over the last decade. From technology to soil health, and sustainability we have made some great strides in how we feed the world. We need be better at sharing our message. If we don’t, this disconnect is only going to get worse. If given the platform, take the opportunity to educate others on agriculture. Not only will it be rewarding for you, but it will connect the general population to a sector that we often take for granted.