Food Day Canada is this Saturday, and many Canadians are preparing by swapping all-Canadian menu ideas on the event’s Facebook page and discussing it on Twitter. The event is based on the hard work and ingenuity of Canadian farmers, and thanks to founder Anita Stewart, recognizes Canadian food and those who produce it. Social media helped Food Day Canada reach across the country; @FoodDayCanada has 26,000 followers – that’s a very impressive number, and is a prime example of contemporary electronic media being there to advance the agri-food sector.
But information sharing can be a two-edged sword, as about 300 participants at Cribit Seeds’ open house found out last week from an expert panel that included former University of Guelph crop scientist Terry Daynard, provincial cereal crop specialist Peter Johnson, and Grain Farmers of Ontario chair Henry Van Ankum. They discussed the best and worst of agriculture in the past quarter-century, and what they anticipated in the future. One major theme was communications; opinions ranged from calling Twitter a ‘remarkable’ development and a tool to challenge questionable information, to saying social media was one of the worst things to happen to agriculture, to discussing the opportunities for communication with consumers about what farmers do.
But there’s a long road ahead. The farm sector’s profile can be enhanced through social media, but relatively few are on Twitter. And since the public wants and needs to hear from farmers according to the panel, more should join. As Food Day Canada approaches, think about these issues, but don’t forget to remember how lucky we are to be blessed with amazing food, dedicated farmers, and progressive local farm-owned companies like Cribit Seeds.