Monterey County Farm Bureau


Reflections: How Far We Have Come


Let’s Stop Tearing Down and Start Building Up

Written by: Teresa Thorne, Executive Director, Alliance for Food and Farming

I have rarely met a farmer who isn’t caring and passionate about what they do.  Organic or conventional, I have seen firsthand their commitment to grow safe and healthy food.  And, as a profession, they are empathetic and supportive of each other with the challenges they consistently encounter and face. Again, whether they farm organically, conventionally or both, they recognize themselves in each other.

Now why can’t we do the same?  Why do some inaccurately and routinely disparage other farming practices and the resulting products?  Why would you use fear-based marketing tactics to tear down?  Especially, when study after study verifies the safety of both organic and conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.  And, when study after study shows there are environmental and consumer benefits attributed to both farming methods. Shouldn’t we be building each other up and working cooperatively to promote all fruits and vegetables?

The problem with fear-based marketing and denigration of farming practices is that it confuses or scares consumers.  With only 1 in 10 of us eating enough fruits and vegetables each day, this is not a good thing.  Further, studies have found these tactics result in low-income consumers stating they are less likely to purchase any produce – organic or conventional – when they hear this type of messaging. This study alone should stop the use of fear as a promotional tactic because it shows that is clearly backfiring.

Let’s take a page from the farmers growing these fruits and vegetables and work side-by-side to promote our products to improve public health.  Decades of nutritional studies have shown the tremendous impact of a produce-rich diet.  For example, one study found that 20,000 cancer cases could be prevented annually if only half of all Americans increased their fruit and vegetable consumption by a single-serving.

Supporting consumer choice is the best way to support farmers.  It is also among the more important ways to increase consumption.  And, supporting our farmers’ choice in their safe and effective growing practices would be helpful too.  After all, it’s what they do for each other – they build each other up, they don’t tear each other down.

The Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) is a non-profit organization formed in 1989 which represents organic and conventional farmers of fruits and vegetables and farms of all sizes.

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