CFB to celebrate 100th annual meeting in Denver
The members of the Colorado Farm Bureau are gathering for the 100th annual meeting Nov. 21-24 at the Renaissance Hotel Denver Stapleton. The event will include a general session featuring U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Greg Ibach and American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. Break out sessions include a legislative and wolf reintroduction update from Ryan Yates, AFBF director of congressional relations, Greg Graff, Colorado State University, on agricultural innovation and the value chain, and food bullying with Michele Payn.
Payn, who will also present to the Advocacy Luncheon attendees on Translating Farm to Food, just this month released her third book, Food Bullying: How to Avoid Buying B.S. In the book, Payn tackles the guilt surrounding food choices and the claims that are often misrepresented.
Payn said the classical definition of bullying is the intention to intimidate or harass a person but in terms of food bullying, she said it’s the removal of choice or leveraging of fear. Food bullying encompasses levels from another shopper who subscribes to one way of eating and believes other choices are inferior, to judging others who make different eating choices all the way to, she said, the most common is shaming others for their food choices. One example, is a mom who isn’t asked to bring classroom snacks because she doesn’t purchase non-GMO or natural ingredients as other parents think she should.
Food bullying also includes online comments by those she dubbed “keyboard cowards” and, she points out, slandering a vegan online as an agriculture producer, also falls under bullying.
“People don’t always knowingly bully,” she said. “Not all bullying is intentional. Much of it is unintentional and when you step back and look at the psychology of it, people are hardwired to try to help others. So, the mom in the grocery store that pulls the dinosaur egg cereal out of another mom’s hand probably isn’t really intending to bully, she just thinks she’s trying to help the other mom.”
Returning to the experts — farmers, ranchers, and dieticians — is the best way to make smart eating decisions based on first-hand knowledge and evidence.
Much food bullying occurs online and Payn said concentrating on the “movable middle” is key and recognizing that not everyone who asks questions of producers is attacking agriculture. The fishbowl, she said, is present online and those who see negative responses and comments can drive perceptions of all producers.
Payn said producers can consider how they can fill the space with a better story than the story presented by those who are anti-agriculture.
“Rather than letting bullies determine what your story of food is, figure out how to be able to find and tell your own story, one that helps people see that food does not need to be filled with guilt and shame and fear,” she said.
The meeting will also include the voting delegate session, competitive events, a devotional breakfast, and, to celebrate the 100th anniversary, a 1919 Ball following the annual banquet and live auction. The 1919 Ball includes a brass and swing band and guests are encouraged to dress in costume celebrating the decade of choice since CFB’s inception. ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at email@example.com or (970) 392-4410.