Article

How Farmer RDNs Can Help Tell the Farm to Table Story

March 09, 2016

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) fulfill significant roles in so many areas of food, nutrition and dietetics. But one that might not be well known is some RDNs are also farmers. We asked two RDNs who are actively engaged in farming “How can RDNs take a leading role in educating people about their food from farm to table?” Here’s what they said:

Amy Mydral Miller, MS, RDN, FAND and farmer: Yes, of course RDNs can take a leading role in educating people about how and where food is produced. People want this information, and we as food and nutrition professionals can address questions about food and farming as well as flavor and fun!

We can put a story behind nutrition to make it more interesting to people, and sharing stories about farmers and their farming operations is one opportunity for sharing stories that engage the public. But we have to make sure our stories are based in science and that our personal values and biases don’t detract from the facts. This is not easy. I grew up on a very large, diversified farm that used different methods to grow crops, so I am familiar and comfortable with many production systems. I believe organic production methods have a place in our food production system, and I appreciate the fact that farmers can choose the method(s) that work best for their farms based on location, climate, market factors, etc.

Abbey Copenhaver, RDN, CDN and New York dairy farmer: Yes, and farmers can also do their part! As a dietitian and a dairy farmer my passion has always been to share my knowledge about food and farming with others. Dietitians have the perfect platform to educate people about food production due to their strong science and research based education and variety of roles in our field, and no one knows agricultural food production better than farmers themselves. However, not all dietitians have a farming background and not all farmers enjoy public speaking – it takes collaboration.

Dietitians can to dig into agriculture practices and connect with a variety of farm operations to feel comfortable educating the public and farmers may need to brush up on their speaking skills and/or team up with the dietitian. As more and more of our population is removed from the farm, accurate food knowledge and education becomes more important.

If you want to learn more about food, nutrition and agriculture, consider taking one of the following steps:

  • If you are a RDN, join one of the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics’ (AND) Dietetic Practice Groups (DPG) that focus on agriculture such as the Food and Culinary Professionals DPG (especially the Agriculture Subgroup) or the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition DPG.
  • If you are a RDN, check out AND’s the Future of Food webinars and resources that provide background so you can learn more about agriculture.
  • Visit a farm either virtually or in person to learn more about how food is grown or raised.
  • And be sure to stay tuned! We’ll be sharing responses to other questions we posted to Abbey and Amy in the coming weeks. If you know other RDNs who are farmers, please let us know so we can share their stories, too!

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