Lessons from the sandbox…
We don’t always get our way, or need to.
Relationships matter more than who wins.
Polite and respectful communication goes the distance.
If we each give a little we gain a lot.
As a farmer who is truly interested in the discussions going on about food I tend to run into a lot of conversations I label as “he said, she said convos”. We all know this kind of conversation where there are two distinct sides both trying to do what they can to “win” the discussion by convincing the other they are wrong and in the end the only thing accomplished is the chasm between the two sides grows into an immense canyon of finger-pointing and name calling. What I am looking for is truly a two-way open honest conversation where in the end the differences are merely an insignificant dip and both “sides” of the discussion understand the other. Personally I have had a long road to get where I am in conversational skills, I was one of those who tried the “shouting louder” theory in hopes I would drown out the opposition and all that was gained in the end was a lot of work for no reward. I firmly believe that because we have twice as many listening devices attached to our heads than speaking devices we should spend a bit more time listening than talking. Amazingly when we do listen more we can respond more effectively to the honest concerns and questions from others.
Just last week I had the pleasure of a food conversation I enjoyed. My seatmate on a flight to Chicago from San Francisco had a great discussion that lasted nearly the full length of the three and a half hour flight. The conversation started with my seatmate announcing she definitely was in tune personally with “The Omnivore’s Dilemma“. At first I had the thought “oh no here we go again” however decided lets see where it goes. We talked antibiotics, hormones, fast food, food portions and regulations, all fighting topics in many of today’s food conversations. However our conversation was different, it was heartfelt and honest, we both had similar yet different passions and in the end parted both better off having met the other. I learned that she truly was passionate about food and how it comes to our plates however she also understands the farmers perspective of having to make a profit to survive. I understood her passion for healthy food and together we believe strongly in choice and that more often than not the healthy choices truly are not proliferate enough.
This week I have the privilege of heading to New York City for the first time in my life. My mission is to attend the NYC portion of the “Food Dialogues” being put together by the US Farmers and Rancher’s Alliance. I am excited that there is something being done to allow for more open conversations in the discussions about food. Is it perfect? Probably not, and truly perfection is somewhat unattainable this early in the conversation. Have mistakes and miscues happened in the past? Yes however that milk was spilled a long time ago and I honestly think we really need to focus all of our energy on moving forward together and not moving backwards apart. So together let’s keep an open mind going in and have a great conversation about the food we eat and all the things that come up from fork to farm.Disclaimer: I am attending the town hall on behalf of the Agchat Foundation in partnership with USFRA to report on the townhall live using Twitter. Follow my updates using the #FoodD hash tag.
My family and our dairy farm are very lucky to be located between San Francisco and Yosemite in the Central Valley of California. Because of this location we are in the flight path to and from San Francisco International Airport AKA SFO. When I have a window seat I try to locate my farm as we fly over. Many times I have had a seatmate on flights thoroughly amazed I can pick my farm out from such a high elevation. If you can pick out Yosemite National Park and Half Dome you too can see our farm just a few minutes later as you head east.
We are very lucky to have awesome views of the Sierra Nevada and Coastal ranges, very often we have a front seat view of Half Dome itself.
So as you fly over my farm please wave and remember we are down here everyday working on the farm caring for the cows who are helping provide healthy food for everyone.