U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance launched The Food Dialogues – a new effort to bring together different viewpoints on farming and ranching and the future of food to help solve problems and get some answers to some very important questions.
In the fourth and last panel, at Chelsea Studios in New York, the panel focused on retaining consumer choices in what they eat and what they pay. The need for information to reach consumers at the point of purchase such as labeling, restaurant ratings, calories, etc., as well as other safety and health issues impact their choices made at the checkout counter or when ordering off the menu.
The first question raised was how do we keep food more affordable? Bart Schott, president of National Corn Growers Association says that the growing demand of corn is the number one reason to look at. Today is the start of the food conversation – not the end. "Consumers have questions about their food. We as farmers are lacking in the open dialogue with them," Schott said.
Labeling is one way consumers and producers can communicate with each other. Take the barcode for example. "Barcoding can be used to simplify labels," said Dr. Pamela Ronald, professor of Plant Pathology at UC of Davis. "If someone wants to know more it can easily be looked up.
Another issue touched upon is organic farming. The term organic and natural doesn't mean they are better than the other options, just different. "Organic farming does not mean sustainability or more nutritious," commented Ronald.
Coming from experience, the fourth panel moderator, Chef John Besh comments on portion size and the reality of it should come from home. Society as a whole, has lost the meaning of portion control with less people cooking at home. "Learning about food starts at the family table. We are losing that connection," Besh said. We need to get back to the dinner table as a family."
To listen to broadcast coverage use the audio player on this page. For more information about Thursday's event visit www.fooddialogues.com.