Before the Plate, a film created and produced by Dylan Sher, challenges us to think about how we communicate with non-farming audiences. And it leaves us with an important message.
Sher, who grew up in the city, was the first person in his family to pursue a career in agriculture. Because he had very little farm experience, he went to work at a local dairy farm to gain more knowledge. During that time, he noticed there were a lot of consumer misunderstandings about dairy farming. Sher decided that he wanted to do something to try to improve communication between farmers and those people who don’t farm. So he came up with the idea of a film.
The movie follows John Horne, Executive Chef of Canoe Restaurant in Toronto, who visits farms that grow the foods for a dish from his menu. At each farm, he learns about the effort and care that goes into growing each ingredient. They also discuss some of the more sensitive farming topics.
Before the Plate encourages all of us to talk with consumers about agriculture. Our communication these days tends to be by email, text messaging or social media. But it’s difficult to truly understand another person’s concerns when they are not actually physically present. It can be tempting to be impolite or rude. Worse, we are unable to empathize with the other person’s situation.
When engaging consumers in face to face conversations about food, something magical happens – it makes it much easier for us to share our experiences and feelings. Like in the movie, these conversations become truly meaningful. Person to person discussions can also help us talk about difficult subjects more honestly and openly.
Yes, social media is the way of the world. And there will always be those who don’t think farmers – and agriculture in general – are doing a good job. But if we make the effort to connect directly with people whenever we can, it can make a difference. There is a lot of potential to share the story of agriculture.
If you’d like to organize a public screening of this film in your community, contact the Ag More Than Ever team