• • • When Was the Last Time You Asked a Farmer About Your Food?
Food is a hot topic these days, plastered all over social media, the daily news cycle, and even the recent Democratic presidential debate. Consumers are paying more attention to how their food is grown and coming up with more questions about its impact on the environment, animal welfare, and nutrition. The new interest is both a blessing and a curse for the industry, as some are happy to see consumers’ willingness to learn about food production, while others feel pressured by the growing laundry list of consumer demands and the lack of patience many shoppers seem to have when it comes to the timeline that it may take agriculture at large to move the needle.
To further complicate matters, Americans’ new appetite for more transparency in food production has left many of them more confused than ever, according to a 2017 survey. Food labeling alone has led to a slew of new label claims and symbols including labeling programs from private third-party certifiers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also refrained from defining a number of widely used claims like natural and pasture-raised. Over half of Americans feel like food labels are misleading, while 11% distrust them completely.