Consumers getting a chance to play in the dirt with farmers

Consumers are getting their third dose of ‘The Real Dirt’ on farming.

Farm and Food Care Ontario’s publication is really allowing people removed from the farm to play in the dirt and learn the ins and outs of an industry that is always changing.

The most recent publication came out in November after success in the previous two editions in 2006 and 2010.

Communications Manager Kelly Daynard tells Rural Roots Canada the booklet gives consumers real insight as to where their food comes from, from the people who produce it.

Daynard says there is a big difference in the issues that are covered in each of the booklets.

“The issues in agriculture are always changing, in 2006 people were very interested in BSE, so they had a lot of questions about that, so that took up a lot of space in that edition,” said Daynard.  “By 2014 that is not even top of mind, but there are so many other issues like why do hens live in cages? Questions about hormones and where they might be found, or GMO’s, pesticides and antibiotics are always top of mind questions.”

Daynard says people living in cities are farther removed from the farm than previous generations and there is a hunger for information about where their food comes from.

“Farming can be very mysterious for those people who don’t know a farmer or don’t know anything about where their food comes from.  They will often read or hear stories from non-farming experts and these can be very scary and so we always figure if you have questions about where your food comes from why not ask a Canadian farmer?   So this booklet is written from the perspective of the Canadian farmer answering those questions and within in the booklet we profile farmers from coast to coast.”

She says there has been a major change in attitudes about food in this country over the last two decades.

“I know when I started working in this career 15 or 20 years ago,  I really couldn’t get anyone interested in where their food comes from.  But with the advent of the local food movement and the 100 mile diet and farmers’ markets taking off in popularity people have just been so interested in where their food comes from, which is exciting for me.    Because you know I’m passionate about where my food comes from and I think every Canadian should be and I know that hasn’t always been the case.  So to see the interest take off and see the reception to a booklet like this is exciting for me.”

One of the biggest differences with this edition was the fact it was launched with a twitter party, something they wouldn’t have considered for the last two editions with Canadians from coast to coast engaging in conversations with Canadian farmers.

“So many great questions being asked to those farmers.  Consumers seemed very excited to be able to reach out to those farmers.”

“If a booklet like this and all of its resources can help with that process, than that is great for us,” adds Daynard.

This publication and its predecessors can be ordered at www.realdirtonfarming.ca.

Daynard is urging all agriculture stakeholders to get a couple of copies and leave them every where from the doctors’ office to the local politician’s to spread “The Real Dirt on Farming.”

Farm and Food Care Ontario have set the bar high, with an ambitious goal of sending out a million copies by the end of the year.

Communication Manager Kelly Daynard’s answers to questions from Rural Roots Canada:

How does this booklet come together?

How much of an attitude change have you seen from consumers? 

How much of difference is there between this publication and its two predecessors?

Where can people get “The Real Dirt on Farming”?