I had a major week of milestones last week. I was interviewed for part of an article that I know appeared in the Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal and Regina Leader-Post (that I’ve heard of). That lead to an interview on CBC Radio One’s Eyeopener show with David Gray and another radio interview on 770 AM with Bruce Kenyon talking about the gluten-free trend and wheat farmers. Another huge milestone was heading out to my first ever blogging conference—the Food Bloggers of Canada Conference held in Vancouver this past weekend. These milestones started me off feeling higher than high not only being featured in the paper, but that a national radio station based in Calgary would seek me out for an interview after they read about me in the paper. I felt like what I said mattered, and this time it was to an audience that reached across western Canada, not just on my blog and whoever happens to share it.
These milestones also left me feeling the lowest of lows and physically ill to the point of feeling anxious enough of not being able to take a deep breath and on the verge of a small panic attack. I also felt nauseous and wanting to vomit at various points this past weekend, in particular any time my phone told me I had a new email.
Agvocating certainly isn’t always easy.
Why is it that for all the good feedback I get (which is a lot, and thanks for that!) I find myself vulnerable and focusing only on the bad? I have never had so many hate emails than from the gluten interview. I guess the bigger the reach the more that will pop out of the wood works, and normally I can keep calm and just take the negativity with a grain of salt, but with the anxiety I had about going to the conference, I felt myself on the verge of losing it.
I had a wonderful time meeting new people, networking with some of our country’s agriculture groups of whom a lot came up and told me they were fans of my blog and what I write about in agriculture. Then I also met some people (which I knew would happen) that were not such fans of the things I write about. I had an exchange with someone on the last morning of the conference about canola oil and it ended with this person walking away saying “you’re never going to change my mind about GMOs“.
The thing is, I don’t want to change minds. Well, I do…but I want to do it by respectfully providing science-based information so that it might get my ‘opponents’ at least thinking about things. I excitedly told this person in a “did you know” tone, that the neat thing about GMO canola is that if you had 3 samples of canola oil side-by-side: 1 organic canola oil (if it existed), 1 non-GMO canola oil and 1 GMO canola oil, it is all exactly the same. The “GMO” (just one gene) is a protein the canola plant which removed in processing (along with all proteins) and they are all the same—there is no way possible to tell which is which once they are processed, same goes for sugar. This person wasn’t interested in learning and that’s fine.
Call me an ag nerd, but I think facts like that are SO COOL and so many people don’t know things like this and I want to share it with them. I think it puts these controversial things into perspective and makes things less scary. But if someone wants to put their hands up and walk away, that’s their choice. If they want to pay more for a product based on fear and not science—also their choice.
I did have a pleasant exchange with an organic wine grower who openly admitted that the problem with the “debate” in GMOs is that the organic proponents are “too emotional and irrational” in their arguments and that its “hard to argue with science that’s reasoned”.
When advocating for agriculture, be it gluten in wheat or GMOs, I use the facts that I know and I add a personal twist when I can. One of my favourite things about talking face-to-face with people was seeing their reactions to thing things I was telling them. I told the organic wine grower that GMOs aren’t a “thing” inserted into a corn cob with a syringe like we see on Facebook all the time, rather it’s a technology that farmers can and do use: it’s a tool in the toolbox. Why should farmers be limited in using a technology that has been proven time and time again to be safe?
I love what I do, I put countless hours into researching my posts all for free because I love it so much. Usually it just grinds my gears when people email me or comment telling me that what we are growing is “poison” and give me stats and “facts” from unreliable sources, but in moments of vulnerability, I let it get the best of me. Hopefully it won’t (almost) make me sick next time!