By Emily Thompson
- Confusing food labels leads to consumers being less confident in the food choices they make.
- Moms On The Farm is trying to bridge the disconnect between consumers and their food by showing people inside the farms where their food is produced.
Walking down the aisles of the grocery store we are bombarded by confusing food labels. What’s the difference between all natural and organic? What does free range mean?
Such labels can lead to a lack of confidence in consumer food purchasing, said Janeal Yancey, University of Arkansas animal science department program technician.
“You have lots of people out there with lots of questions about their food,” Yancey said.
Moms On the Farm wants to help bridge that gap between consumers and their food by showing people inside the farms where their food is produced.
“I want to make that connection that 97 percent of farms are family run,” said Yancey, creator of The Moms On the Farm Tour. “I want all people to associate all their food with a farmer.”
Last week, about 26 people boarded a bus and toured a beef farm, a poultry farm and a dairy farm to see how the food they purchase is produced. They were able to not only tour the facilities, but have an open dialogue with the farmers themselves about how food goes from farm to table and what life on the farm is like.
Yancey said it was an eye opening experience for those on the tour. Many were shocked at the amount of work that goes into running a farm on a daily basis.
“It’s always fun to see them have those ‘aha’ moments,” Yancey said.
The first tour was held in 2012 and was organized by Yancey and faculty and staff from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and the Dale Bumpers School of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.
Yancey said the tours were her way of “paying back the mom club.” After becoming a mother herself, Yancey realized that mothers like to help other mothers. She also realized that many of the mothers she knew had questions about the food they were feeding their kids. Then she had the idea to put her expertise to use to help educate other moms about where food comes from to make them more confident when feeding their kids.
After the tours, participants returned to the Benton County Extension Office where the Arkansas Cattle Women had a beef cooking seminar that was followed by a question and answer session.
“They got to ask some of those questions that they hear about or see on the internet and get the non-biased information we provide,” said Jessica Street, Benton County extension agent.
Yancey said that while tours like this won’t bring immediate economic gains to a farmer, it will have a big impact over time by creating positive relationships with consumers.
“When a farmer opens their home – their farm, they’re looking at the big picture,” Yancey said. “Creating a positive mindset and relationships with consumers will change the way people look at food.”