Reaching consumers is key to helping with food confusion. Tamika Sims, the director of Food Technology communications for the International Food Information Council Foundation, is using social media to aid consumers.
“We will follow what is happening in … social media—including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest—to get a feel for how consumers are talking about food,” Sims said.
Sims noticed that differences and similarities between organic and conventional crops are being discussed with consumers, emphasizing how safe both are.
“That’s the one that we can’t seem to get enough of,” she said.
They talk about the differences and similarities as far as organic and conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.
“We talk to consumers about how they’re equally safe and equally nutritious and that one is not superior to the other when it comes to food safety or nutrition,” Sims said. “If you have access to either, feel free to enjoy both in an equal way.”
Interested in learning more? You can go to the IFIC’s website to check out their resources.
“The food craze is a real big movement right now,” Steinmaus stated, “especially with urban folks. Some of the biggest scenes are the foodie craze—that farm-to-table idea of buying locally, organically-produced food.”
Continuing, “And the cooking shows are out of control-popular, right? Where does the food come from? It comes from here; this is what it’s all about,” he said, with pride.
The growing trends are also reinvigorating students to become more involved, according to Steinmaus. “Students are asking where their food comes from,” he commented, “and who the farmers are that produce such healthy fruits and vegetables. That is an exciting part of our discipline as well—this foodie craze, and I think our students want to become a part of that,” he reflected.
The push for local produce is also inspring more people to grow their own home gardens. “When they garden, they get it,” Steinmaus explained. “And as soon as people get their hands dirty and as soon as they produce their first tomato; there’s nothing more empowering than producing your own food,” he said, “even if it’s a little bit.”
With this renewed interest in home gardening, Steinmaus observed, many are discovering their preconceived notions of farming were not quite accurate. “We’re working with the American Horticultural Society, putting together the videos that show people farming isn’t what you might think it is; it is actually completely different.” Steinmaus said.
“Farming involves a lot more than a green thumb,” he elaborated. “It requires the understanding of growing cycles and identifying various deficiencies. It utilizes very high technology. It is producing food; there is nothing more empowering than putting food on your kitchen table that you grew in your garden, or was grown by a farmer you know just down the street, and you know his [or her] name,” said Steinmaus.