As some of you know, I am a CommonGround volunteer from Iowa. CommonGround is a national grassroots movement dedicated to connecting farm women with urban women to create conversations about food and farming.
Lately, we (CommonGround) have been attacked by some people trying to make our job way more difficult than it already is. Accusations from the group include:
- CommonGround is connected to Monsanto
- The CommonGround Facebook page is owned by Monsanto
- CommonGround is front group trying to deny Californians the right to know what is in their food
- We (the CommonGround volunteers) grow frankenfood
In my opinion, this is just absolutely ridiculous! As a farmer and CommonGround volunteer I just couldn’t believe what I was reading, all of which was untrue. That is why I would like to spend some time explaining why I became a volunteer in the first place.
Let’s start from the beginning:
It didn’t take long for corn and soybean farmers to decide it was time to tell the accurate story of agriculture instead of letting others tell it for them. Farmer leaders from the National Corn Growers Association and the United Soybean Board caught on to this and teamed up to start the CommonGround program. Research shows that the wife/mother of the family is normally the primary grocery shopper, so the two farmer organizations thought the best way to connect with urban wives/mothers would be to have them meet their rural counterparts.
As far as how our program is funded, it is entirely funded by American soybean and corn farmers and their checkoffs. The definition of a checkoff is: Producers from commodities (such as beef, dairy and eggs, soybean farmers, etc) invest a portion of their product revenue to fund research and promotional efforts. This collective investment is called a checkoff.
Role of CommonGround:
CommonGround is simple. It’s a way for volunteer farm women to have a conversation about food and agriculture with their urban counterparts. It’s that simple. We want to be a resource for consumers to turn to if they have a question or concern about their food. We want consumers to use our website (www.findourcommonground.com) as a place to find real, truthful answers to their questions and concerns about food, food production and agriculture in general. (Fun fact: Everything that is put on that website has to be approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).)
There is a disconnect between the consumer and where the food is grown now-a-days. Part of the problem is because there is so much incorrect information out there coming from people that have no connection to agriculture. That’s why I became a volunteer. I want consumers to know what it is like on our farm and the farms of the other volunteers and why we do the things we do.
Food and Farming Questions:
Iowa was one of five pilot states for CommonGround. Now, we have over 60 volunteers in 15 different states across the United States! Their farms range from large scale farms to small scale farms, conventional to organic, livestock to row crops and just about everything in between. No matter what type of question you have concerning food and agriculture, you can bet that we have a volunteer(s) that can answer your question or address your concern with a honest answer. Again, we as CommonGround volunteers want to be your first resource that you turn to when you have a food question. So, please let us know how we can help you!
Ways to contact CommonGround:
- Through the website: www.findourcommonground.com
- CommonGround Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CommonGroundNow
Ways to Contact Individual States:
Also on the national CommonGround website, you can find contact information for each volunteer. Many of us have our own blogs and use Facebook and Twitter as a means of communication with consumers.
In closing, we want to share information with you, so please ask us your food related questions! We look forward to hearing from you!!!