Farm to Fork Gala brings consumers and farmers together.

November 10, 2017

Mason County Farm Bureau President Seth Earl, and Kathy Maclean, executive director of the Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce, talk to FFA member Riley Drilling of Baldwin High School.

 

Farm to Fork Gala brings consumers and farmers together.

#MasonCountyAgriculture

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

VICTORY TOWNSHIP — Have you ever wondered what the difference is between organic food and “all natural” food? Are you concerned about GMOs? Did you know that 22% of Michigan’s workforce is connected to agriculture? These topics were amongst the conversations that took place Thursday evening during the Mason County Farm Bureau’s Farm to Fork Gala at West Shore Community College.

The gala was an opportunity for invited guests to sit down with farmers and discuss some of the pressing issues in modern agriculture, including GMOs, organic vs. traditional farming, labor/careers, and labeling.

Michigan Farm Bureau President Carl Bednarski, left, speaks with WSCC Interim President Scott Ward.

“There is a lot of misleading information circulating about modern farming,” said Mason County Farm Bureau President Seth Earl. “The idea behind Food to Fork is for our community leaders to sit down with farmers and have a conversation about these topics. Our hope is that those folks will then go back and talk to their friends, families, customers, and employees about what it is that we actually do.”

Agriculture is one of the top industries in Mason County and the second largest industry in Michigan, Earl said.

“Less than 2% of the United States’ population lives on a farm today,” Earl said, “yet agriculture impacts every single one of us. We have to eat and farmers grow the food.

“Farmers want to be able to build a trust and have a conversation with consumers,” Earl said. “For example, we hear a lot of GMOs, genetically modified organisms. Most people don’t know that there are only nine crops in the entire world that are genetically modified. Yet, there are many retailers that will label their products as ‘GMO free’ when in fact that particular crop being sold doesn’t even have a GMO version. The public often relies on information from a biased media that really doesn’t know all the facts.”

Some of the attendees Thursday were members of the West Shore Future Farmers of America. Earl talked about how the organization is the largest youth organization in the country with its mission to create leadership.

“I benefited from the FFA and it is a great asset that we again have FFA chapters in this community.”

The event was sponsored by the Mason County Farm Bureau, Michigan Farm Bureau, Abre Farms, Little Red Organics, Sanders Meats, Indian Summer Co-Op, and West Shore Community College.

WSCC Interim President Scott Ward talked about the relationship between WSCC and agriculture through its partnership with Michigan State University and the agriculture 2-year certification program.

Michigan Farm Bureau President Carl Bednarski, a farmer from Tuscola County, said the event was a great venue to put consumers face to face with farmers.

“I think this type of format is great,” Bednarski said. “Consumers are so far removed from the farm these days and the information that they are looking for and want and some of the information they are believing is not accurate information. This is a great way to get those individuals to speak directly to the farmer.”

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