By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
Consumers are often confused and skeptical about the way many foods are grown. Retail dietitians, however, can communicate confidence in the food supply by partnering with farmers to translate food production stories and help consumers understand the journey from farm to supermarket.
Leah McGrath, RD, LDN, Corporate Dietitian for Ingles Markets, made it a point to learn more about farming practices when she started receiving consumer questions. Over the past few years Leah has visited several farms in her area and takes advantage of agricultural learning opportunities so she can share her findings with shoppers through articles, blogs and presentations. She is not afraid to ask the farmers direct questions on safety and ethical practices and states the farmers are typically anxious to discuss the facts about the care that goes into their particular products.
Jennie Schmidt, MS RD, Dietitian and Family Farmer, is also passionate about connecting people with food and farming. Jennie suggests that RDNs tour and visit all types and sizes of farms to understand the depth and breadth of U.S. agriculture and food production. During a tour, Jennie says to ask in-depth questions and remove the romantic notions of agritourism that only show the best sides of a farm. You will then be more prepared to answer consumer questions. Jennie herself is very authentic and transparent while discussing uncomfortable topics like pesticide use because she is the one who runs the sprayer. She feels an honest conversation can alleviate a lot of concerns and dispel misinformation.
Below are some of Leah and Jennie’s recommendations and resources for learning more about farm practices and effectively communicating the information to consumers:
Visit Jennie’s Facebook page The Foodie Farmer @DirtDietitian where she posts about how food gets from field to fork. For one of Leah’s recent farm posts visit http://inglesinfoaisle.com/dirty-boots-and-the-basics-of-beef/ and listen to her podcast on beef at: http://inglesinfoaisle.com/podcast/podcast-hickory-nut-gap-farm/.