Jo-Ann: There were many great conversations and discussions at this year’s Canada’s Outdoor (now Digital) Farm Show. While consumers trust farmers, they don’t necessarily trust or understand farming. With the veil between producer and consumer coming down during the pandemic, there is an opportunity to bridge the knowledge gap and invite those consumers in - virtually! And a common theme is the need to leverage our natural advantages in this country, with a little help from our Federal friends! Go brand Canada!
Len: It will be interesting to see how COVID has affected consumers’ interest in and engagement with the agri-food system. Past research has shown consumers have an extremely low knowledge level regarding where their food comes from but a relatively high interest in learning more. I suspect the shortages of some products and commodities at retail in the early stages of the pandemic and the increasing trend towards meal prep and consumption at home rather than eating out may expedite this trend. The Canadian Centre for Food Integrity will release its annual Public Trust Research study on November 10th; this seminal report is sure to shed more light on not only how COVID has affected consumer engagement with agri-food, but also what the future holds for the sector.
Jo-Ann: A potentially great tool to bridge the consumer/farmer gap and create understanding is Utensil.ca. We’re using it at Nourish because even the most basic agricultural terms can be hard to find online, especially with a broad focus from seed to plate - and Len’s team did the branding!
Len: Utensil.ca was launched by industry leaders Crystal Mackay and Andrew Campbell; the site offers a range of resources for both consumers and anyone in agriculture and food looking for professional development and a broader understanding of the agri-food industry.
Read the article Trade-offs necessary in food-sector COVID recovery at the Farmtario website for more on this evolving situation, including Jo-Ann and Len’s thoughts on the emergence of “two Canadas” and the role of technology on the farm.
For a deep dive into Utensil, Farmtario provides this excellent look in their article A new utensil for agriculture vocabulary and training.