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Food Dialogues: Iowa Forum Created Great Discussion

Posted on November 20, 2013 at 1:13 PM by Iowa Corn


Wayne Humphreys, Katie Olthoff, Dr. Wayne Parrott and
John Bachman discuss food and farming.
The Food Dialogues Forum was held in Ames, IA on November 19.  The forum created a great discussion among panelists and audience members and online viewers were able to get their questions answered on how food is grown and raised.

Concerns over genetically modified organisms in food was the topic of conversation.  Many consumers were not aware that 96% of farms are family farms.  “Next week as we are eating our Thanksgiving dinner, those farmers who raise turkey’s will be chorin,” said Katie Olthoff, CommonGround™ volunteer and Turkey Farmer.

Kalli Weber is an agronomy student at Iowa State University and gives her perspective on the Food Dialogues and why it’s important for consumers to know the facts and made educated decisions about the food they purchase for their family.

~Kalli Weber~
Every day, each and every one of us is acting as a consumer of food. However, having a conversation about where your food comes from is getting harder as people become more disconnected with agriculture. Agricultural groups from across the United States have banded together to form an educational group called the United States Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA). This Alliance consists of more than 80 farmer- and rancher-led organizations and partners representing virtually all aspects of agriculture. The purpose of this group is to engage in dialogue with consumers who have questions about how today’s food is grown and raised. Not only as an agriculturalist should we develop this understanding, but also simply as consumers of food. It is extremely important that we learn where our food comes from and how it is produced.

Growing up on a family farm, I have always had a passion and curiosity for how crops were grown. I remember the age when I was finally old enough to begin helping my own father with harvest. I had hundreds of questions for him, whether it was the buttons in the combine or why the corn was planted the way that it was. There was one single question that I haven’t forgotten ever since I was a little girl.  I asked my father where the crops went after they left our farm, and who did they feed? “They will feed lots and lots of people,” he replied, “and they will go all over.” I was young then and I didn't know much about farming or agriculture. I did know, nonetheless, that my dad was feeding a lot of people. To me, that was an inspiring fact.
Wayne Humpreys and Katie Olthoff discuss farming and the
practices they use on their farms. 
On November 19, you had the opportunity to become inspired by how food and crops are produced and how they feed people all over the world - people like you and me.

The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB), in cooperation with the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance┬« (USFRA┬«) hosted Food Dialogues: Iowa, an event designed to answer questions on how food is grown and raised. This event is mirrored across the nation and it brings together experts on food issues, including farmers, for a panel discussion. The dialogues have been held in Boston, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and more.  We were extremely fortunate to have a dialogue in Ames, Iowa.

Previous food dialogues have covered issues dealing with food production, livestock, and labeling. The Food Dialogues: Iowa event focused on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), organically grown food, and the definition of local foods.

The Food Dialogues Panelists:

  • Dr. Wayne Parrott, Professor, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, University of Georgia
  • Larry Cleverley, Organic farmer
  • Wayne Humpreys, Conventional crop and livestock farmer 
  • Katie Olthoff, CommonGround volunteer and turkey farmer
  • John Schillinger, Crop researcher
  • Dave Murphy, Founder and Executive Director of Food Democracy Now!

As someone in agriculture, I see the value of communication and an open dialogue with consumers about where their food comes from. We should all know what is being served on our plates and the route that it took to get there.
By: Kalli Weber, Freshman in Agronomy at Iowa State University

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