Do we or don’t we talk about it?

In a society where less than two percent of the population farms, there’s a real knowledge gap when it comes to food. It exists on many levels – nutrition and preparation come to mind – but especially on the production and origins end.

So it’s no surprise that one of the main missions of many in agriculture today is to talk to people about how food is produced and where it comes from. This is all relatively simple and straightforward when we are talking about fruits, vegetables and field crops. It’s not even that complicated with milk and eggs. But meat is another story.

This was one of the questions that was raised during AgChat on Twitter last week. Do we talk about slaughter or don’t we talk about slaughter? It’s a key component in explaining to people how a pig becomes bacon, for example, but it’s also one that is extremely sensitive.

Many consumers object to raising animals for meat and let’s be honest – there are many more pleasant topics that can be discussed than slaughter. There’s nothing pretty about it, but it’s an integral part of the food production process. And interestingly enough, it is one that people do seem to be curious about.

Every year, for example, through one of the agricultural organizations I work with, I participate in a project that organizes farm tours for culinary students as a way of showing them the origins of their raw materials and the value of building relationships with farmers in their communities. We always ask them for feedback on what they would like tour in upcoming years and invariably, processing makes the list.

The discussion on AgChat swirled around this one a bit, but the general consensus amongst participants in the conversation seemed to be that it’s an issue that should be addressed if it comes up. If agriculture wants to be transparent and open about food and farming, then it’s a subject that shouldn’t be ignored.

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