#FoodForThought Where’s The Disconnect?

Thinking out loud here. Where’s the disconnect when it comes to food? I’ve said it many times in the past few years that most Americans are disconnected from agriculture and that we farmers, ranchers and those of us involved in agriculture need to advocate, share our stories, and work to fix that disconnect. That people need to get out and talk to a farmer to learn what actually happens on today’s farms and ranches and to learn more about where our food comes from.

But, now I want to turn the table and pose a different question. Why are farmers and ranchers and those of us involved in agriculture so disconnected from most Americans?

For example, take a millennial guy in an office in New York City. Is he disconnected from agriculture or is agriculture disconnected from him? #FoodForThought

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  1. Good point. The door does swing both ways. We’re disconnected (to a greater or lesser degree) from each other because we live in different worlds and do different work.

    Before I went to farming I worked construction (tile and stone). I came from a family of masons and builders and my family, almost all of us for at least 4 generations, worked in the masonry trades. People not in the building trades are about as knowledgeable about them as they are about agriculture, which is to say, almost not at all.

    So I think it’s more of a cultural thing. You’re familiar with what you’re involved with, and not so much things that you’re not directly involved with, be that agriculture or any other aspect of society.

    Anyhoo, that’s my two bits.

  2. I think you’re onto something here. I often ask myself the same thing. I grew up in a Chicago suburb, and my family is owns and operates of the remaining farms in Lake County, Ind. My classmates and I had completely different upbringings, I had chores and responsibilities that took precedence over things like shopping, sporting events and just “hanging out.” This often lead to disagreements because they couldn’t understand why I didn’t just ditch.

    This past weekend I went to Chicago to visit, and as thousands of people were milling around me (hello claustrophobia) — all I could think was don’t these people have other things to do at home? What I needed to do once I got back to my humble abode was weighing heavily on my mind.

    So, I believe it’s true that those in agriculture are as clueless about what those outside of our farming and ranching lifestyles really do — and why they often have no idea about the trials and tribulations of growing food and fiber.

  3. Great post Ryan! I think there is a big disconnect going both ways. I grew up on a cattle ranch in the middle of WY and my family still ranches there. Although I spend as much time there as I possibly can, I live with my family in the metro area of the Twin Cities. I wasn’t able to stay on the ranch, not because I didn’t want to but because not everyone could stay. I have lived on both sides of the fence (and still do, back and forth all the time) and I see a disconnect on both sides. It is true that a lot of folks born and raised in the city don’t know much about agriculture (is it fair to expect them too?) but a lot of ranch folks have some pretty big misconceptions about city folks too. There have been times that I have cringed at comments made around the dinner table back at the ranch that make assumptions about the work ethic of those that live in cities, among other things. It definitely goes both ways. We need to have a lot more friendly conversations, that include really listening to what the other side has to say and trying to understand where they are coming from and not just talking on top of each other. Doesn’t mean you have to agree with them but making an effort to get to know people and their situation I think goes a long way. I could go on and on about this topic but I will leave it at that. Thanks for all you do in creating great conversations Ryan!

  4. I’m in the same boat with PrettyWork. I come from a farming community and farming families but now I live in Saint Louis. The disconnect goes both ways. Some farmers might need to get a little more (open minded) exposure to urban life and the same goes for city dwellers. Cultures combining breeds learning and appreciation. However, I will say that I think a larger percentage of rural folk make it to town compared to city folk making it to farmland, for obvious reasons. Good food for thought, Ryan!

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