Food Bullying: A Phenomenon We All Need to Think AboutFri, 20 Aug 2021 08:00:12 CDT
With more information at our fingertips than ever before, deciphering fact from fiction can be overwhelming - especially at the supermarket, where consumers are faced with vast arrays of products, all with unique marketing strategies.
Michele Payn, award-winning author and dairywoman, told Radio Oklahoma’s own, KC Sheperd, that with 98% of the U.S. population removed from farming and ranching today, misleading food labels and misinformation surrounding people’s eating choices creates a lot of confusion and emotionalism.
“I think food bullying is one of those topics that nobody really thinks about,” Payn said. “It’s going to define the way we get to farm and ranch.”
Payn said, a lack of connection to where food comes from can create distrust in areas of the food supply chain. That fear is preyed upon by who Payn calls, “the bullies.” In Payn’s book, Food Bullying: How to Avoid Buying B.S., the bullies take many forms, from the fault-finding family member to haughty shoppers, and especially the multi-trillion-dollar food-marketing industry.
According to Payn, now that food has become an informational battleground, in which consumers are attacked with fictious nutrition information, environmental claims and more, facts are passed over to satiate guilt and fear.
“It’s pretty clear that our brains are being manipulated,” Payn said. “People with first-hand expertise are the source of truth.”
Payn said people should seek farmers and ranchers with their food concerns. In return, agricultural producers need to have more effective conversations with consumers, more often, she added.
“The challenge that we have in agriculture is… to have affective conversations that actually connect on an emotional level, rather than throwing all the data at them,” Payn said.
Payn also said it is important for producers to talk about why and what they do, while keeping in mind that just because a consumer is questioning why producers do what they do, they are not questioning producers as humans, but simply questioning a practice.
“If someone is asking you a question, don’t take it as a personal insult,” Payn said. “They’re simply asking a question about how their food is raised - which they have a right to do.”
At the end of the day, Payn said food should be about celebration - not condemnation.
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