I had the privilege to attend BASF’s annual Dinner is Grown Event a few short weeks ago to converse with food enthusiasts from across the food supply chain at BASF’s Center for Sustainable Agriculture. In this newly remodeled building, now open to the public, we were greeted by the building’s gorgeous gardens bordered with both edible and floral plants endcapped with a handful of well-kept honey bee hives doing their part as pollinators.
Once inside, a nice blast of cool air welcomed us into the lively space filled with tangible, educational elements surrounding the dining tables. From interacting with an AI about the building’s history to a “do you know” virtual quiz on crop types, I’d have to say my favorite was the one that looked like an air hockey table with “pucks” of different crops that you could lay in the middle to have info blurbs pop up with fun facts about how the crop is grown.
Shortly after enjoying several rounds of appetizers, it was time to dive right into the main course of conversation. Take a look at the three key takeaways I had from my table’s thoughts on what sustainable agriculture looks like across our areas of work as dietitians, farmers, reporters, journalists, lobbyists, and communications experts.
Keep asking questions.
Throughout dinner, it was clear farmers are facing even more tensions as we go into a third year of a pandemic and dealing with supply chain struggles. This includes the continued misinformation (due to a lack of knowledge) and disinformation (intentionally misleading) done by those in the communications space when talking about food, farmers, and agriculture. Farmers wished more folx would ask questions of them directly and trusted sources of industry knowledge (such as dietitians who have working relationships with farmers and other agricultural outlets) instead of buying into the clickbait headlines that don’t give the whole picture of what common practices are in the field and on the farm.
We’re in it together.
Farmers aren’t “out to get us.” If anything, the last few years have shown just how resilient they’ve had to be in order to rise to the challenge of growing and producing enough food for us to survive. They plant and raise what they do in order to meet the needs we’ve expressed as consumers who have the privilege of purchasing power and autonomy in those decisions. Just as we’ve struggled with the repercussions of how a pandemic has influenced our daily lives, so have they in trying to meet these new needs.
It takes all kinds.
Conventional, organic - farmers are growing it all to try to meet consumer needs. Ultimately, it comes down to producing abundantly safe food for folx across all levels of need and access. In order to keep up with the demands of the pandemic and going into the future, sustainable agriculture means growing in a variety of ways, small and big operations, in order to be able to meet those needs for a diverse audience. What that means for each grower and farmer will vary, the same way the food and nutrients we need as individuals will be customized and nuanced, too.
This post is made in collaboration with BASF Agriculture. Learn more about opportunities to partner with me here.