Lights. Camera. Food?

Last month, the Farmers & Ranchers Alliance hosted a two-day Food Dialogues event titled, "Lights, Camera, Food: Perceptions and Realities of Farming and Ranching in America" to address consumers’ concerns about food production.

Reality television, documentaries and news investigations are often times critical of today’s food system, its players and practices. The goal of the two-day event was to discuss perceptions and realities of food and farming.

According to the website, the event comprised of four separate discussions that brought together entertainment movers and shakers, chefs, academics, large restaurant operators, journalists, local leaders and farmers and ranchers for in-depth conversations about food. Discussions included:

  • Hollywood and “Vine”: The Intersection of Pop Culture and Food Production
  • Meeting of the Minds: Touring Hollywood’s Urban Farm
  • The Great Debate: Science, Technology and Food 
  • The Real Chef Challenge: Understanding How Food is Grown and Raised

Because it was such a unique event, I thought I’d share excerpts from some of the keynote discussions. Below are excerpts from the keynote conversation about the intersection of pop culture and food.
“If we stop being so judgmental and come together in the same room, we  find we have a  lot of shared values,” said Dr. J. Scott Vernon, agricultural communication professor at California Polytechnic State University.

“We are the same people with the same feelings and life experiences,” said Juliet D’Annibale, television producer. It’s not a matter of finding the right message; it’s a matter of exposing oneself and being truly honest about things that are uncomfortable for you. That’s what resonates with people.” 

Central Ohio farmer, Kristin Reese, was invited to participate as a member of “The Real Chef Challenge” panel.

“When I arrived, I saw very few familiar faces and asked myself how I fit into this equation,” said Reese. “But as our conversation began, I came to realize the importance of a small farmer and mother role at our conversation table.”

You can watch video highlights and review all of the panel discussions at

What do you think of the Food Dialogues event? Do you think events and discussions that bring farmers and consumers together to discuss farming practices are beneficial?

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Blackberries in the Buckeye State

Blackberries are commonly grown throughout the Pacific Northwest and the Southern U.S., but researchers at The Ohio State University Extension are currently testing several different varieties of the berry to help boost production throughout the Buckeye State. Their goal is to provide local growers an opportunity to profit from the fruit’s increasing popularity, which has grown because of its health benefits and the growing interest in locally grown foods.

“It’s a missed opportunity for growers to make money,” said Gary Gao, an OSU Extension specialist and associate professor of small fruit crops in a recent Extension article. “Demand is much stronger than the supply. Growers just can’t get enough of them.”

The biggest obstacle facing the researchers is the blackberry’s lack of winter hardiness. While many blackberry plants weather mild winters just fine, a harshly cold or snowy season can seriously damage the crop.

The OSU researchers are testing four blackberry varieties, as well as production methods, to discover the best berry for Ohio. Currently, Ohio’s blackberry acreage is about only 400 acres.

“We want to help growers reduce their risk in order to plant more blackberry varieties that will produce a more reliable yield,” said Gao.

If the researchers are successful, it could mean a berry boon for farmers. According to Gao, a grower who produces 2,000 pounds of blackberries per acre can earn $4,600 per acre of gross revenue.

What do you think about expanding the blackberry crop in Ohio? Does it sound like a sweet idea to you?

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Ohio County Fairs

Deservedly, as Ohio’s No. 1 industry, agriculture is celebrated each summer with county fairs and the Ohio State Fair. 

The state is littered with these festivals from June until October and each has its own unique attractions and events.

Visit’s tourism and recreation page to view a chronological listing of Ohio county fairs. 

I hope that you can still attend your county fair or a neighboring county’s to partake in some local tourism that the entire family can enjoy.  


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