LEBANON, Ind. — Pink slime. Food labeling. Farm subsidies. Biotechnology. Animal welfare.
These issues have created a climate between farmers and nonfarmers as divisive as politics and contentious as religion.
No More Food Fights!, a new book just published, aims to instead bring farmers and foodies together for productive conversations that improve the national food system.
Authored by food and farm advocate Michele Payn-Knoper, No More Food Fights! Growing a Productive Farm & Food Conversation is the first-ever book to speak to all sides of the food movement.
Payn-Knoper said she wrote the book after continuously witnessing the growing divide between farmers and eaters that she believes is causing confusion in the grocery aisles and placing the future of farming at risk.
“A tiny fraction of the population produces our food,” Payn-Knoper said. “In fact, more than 98 percent of Americans are several generations removed from first-hand farming experiences, and very few have even visited a farm.
“Most are very disconnected from and distrusting of modern agriculture.”
At the same time, she added, “many farmers have done a poor job of talking about today’s farming practices, neglecting to really listen to questions about how food is grown.”
The book’s design lends itself to explore both sides of the issue.
The Food side offers insights to those who are passionate about the food that society consumes: chefs, health care professionals, foodies, dietitians and retailers.
Flipping the book reveals the Farm side, which features insights aimed at those who produce food farmers, agricultural businesses and ranchers.
Throughout the book, Payn-Knoper intersperses more than 35 personal stories from farmers, food scientists, dietitians, healthcare professionals and ranchers. Farm and Dairy Editor Susan Crowell has a selection in the “Will the Media Tell Your Story” section.
The Food side of No More Food Fights! gives people on the food side of the plate six guideposts to engage with and better understand the farm side.
Likewise, the Farm side outlines six ways farmers can take 15 minutes a day to connect with people around the plate.
Both sides of the book conclude with a common chapter, Can You Connect at the Center of the Plate?, that encourages producers and consumers to meet in the middle through shared values and hot buttons.
“Agriculture needs to address food buyer concerns in order to be successful in the future,” said Mary Shelman, director of the Harvard Business School Agribusiness Program. “Food buyers need to know more facts about where their food comes from. Michele Payn-Knoper bridges those worlds in No More Food Fights! and helps others do the same.”
Ag communications pioneer Michele Payn-Knoper, a farm girl since birth, is a professional speaker who has helped people in agricultural, dietetic and food audiences connect the farm gate to the food plate.
She also founded #AgChat and #FoodChat in 2009, virtual communities connecting thousands of agriculture and food people
Digital versions will be available for the iPad, Kindle and Nook in March.