It is funny reflecting back to nine years ago, there I was tucking into my Sunday dinner, a beautiful succulent roast lamb, colourful steamed veg, crispy roast potatoes and of course my mum’s famous golden Yorkshire puddings.
As you can imagine, it was demolished in a fraction of the time it took to prepare, just as it is today.
There is just one fundamental difference between nine years ago, and the present. I’m on the other side of the bridge now (a very broken, disconnected bridge), I am the producer of the food this nation eats.
Nine years ago I wouldn’t have given a single consideration as to where any of that food came from, let alone the journey it took to get there.
The thing is, if I didn’t know and it didn’t occur to me to think about, how many other people are in the same place?
I am absolutely convinced that in order for this industry to thrive and survive, we need to start rebuilding that bridge piece by heavy piece.
We need the ‘past Hannahs’ of this world to actively take an interest in the journey of field to fork, and the only way we do that is by giving them an insight into this crazy world we all know as ‘our life’.
Forget the word educate, it immediately turns people away, it’s a term we use for children and we should leave it there.
When people feel like they’re making their own choices and decisions they are much more open minded, therefore as farmers it is our responsibility to guide the ‘past Hannahs’ to places where they can read, compare, and decide for themselves.
You might ask how? Social media (yes it’s not for everyone) is an invaluable tool at our disposal.
I reach over 110,000 individual people as I showcase what happens on our farm every day and that doesn’t take into account the extended reach. That’s 110,000 people I can talk to about the difference in welfare standards between the UK and the likes of the US.
That’s 110,000 people to who I can explain how my lamb is fed and finished on grass alone. You get my drift.
Hands-on times, like open farm Sundays, get people on to the farm, witnessing the jobs first hand, let them appreciate and see the love, compassion, commitment and sacrifice that goes into producing food.
We are seeing a major shift in behaviours, being driven by personal values and health concerns.
Yes, cost still plays its part, but many people are starting to act beyond just price.
The NFU’s latest Food Standards Petition absolutely reflects this, with over one million people backing the campaign to ensure any produce brought into this country matches the standards that UK farmers adhere to.
That is one million people putting health and sustainability and overall care for animals/crops above cost.
There has never been a more important time for British agriculture to rally and come together, presenting a strong and, most importantly, a consistent voice.
This is the time for us to dispel the myths and to spread the word on how we produce food to some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, how we are taking responsibility and caring for our environment, and how our food is undeniably some of the best in the world.
The more we do this, the more we will subconsciously guide decisions such as ‘British or NZ lamb’, eating within the seasons instead of shipping food around the world, drinking wholesome milk from our cows instead of trendy almond milk.
We need to build the bridge, and show that we can to make the journey of field to fork easily accessible and desirable.
We are a powerful group of people when we are united and we can do this!