As I sat in on the second Chicago Moms Meetup earlier this month in Chicago, it hit me: it's working.
The Field Moms, a group of 10 Chicago-area moms selected earlier in the fall for a special series of tours and much one-on-one access with farms, farmers and farm moms, were the focus of this Meetup. And while attendance maybe wasn't what the Illinois Farm Families folks might have hoped for, it was certainly a case of quality far outweighing quantity. Indeed, the conversations that took place were good ones.
Check out Field Mom Betsie Estes' blog for further proof. I love it when she says, "And THIS is why I applied to be a field mom. Because I want to get closer to the truth. Not the media version, not the PETA version, not even the Hormel-spun version – I want to sit down with the farmers themselves and hear what they have to say."
Cue the Hallelujah Chorus.
The highlight of the event at our table, however, was when Field Mom Amy Hansmann, a River Forest mother of two, shared how she was talking with a friend. The friend told her that cows down on the farm weren't intended to eat corn. That it wasn't the best thing for them. Amy looked at her and carefully pointed out that she was eating a Dorito. "Maybe that’s not the best thing for you, either."
Granted, that was the end of that conversation but as Amy pointed out, she recognized that what her friend was saying was wrong – more than she knew before her farm tours this fall – but she didn't have the knowledge yet to share specifically why corn is ok for cows.
And as it just so happened, there sat Jeff Beasley at our table. Williamson County cattleman. Illinois Beef Association president. Wearing a cowboy hat and Wranglers. A more knowledgeable nor perfect source could not have been found, I tell you. And he shared, very carefully, very factually, why corn works for cattle. Amy took copious notes.
This is the turnaround, you see. We have a group of people here who understand. They are urban moms who get what we do. They don't know all the details yet – they're working on that – but they get the big picture and they know enough to know the garbage they're hearing from other sources is just that: garbage. And they're looking to farmers for answers.
This is exactly the point.