Donna Jeschke, a Mazon farmer and former Chair of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, participated in a “mom meet up” with some urban moms this week, sharing information about her farm, the decisions she makes on how to grow her crops, and answer questions about food production in general.
Through Donna’s experiences with the Illinois Farm Families program, she understands that urban moms have a lot of misconceptions about how food is grown and how farmers live. This make sense, because they have never been to the farm and have no connection with a farmer, but it’s always shocking.
“Last night, one of the moms had a surprise revelation. She got a confused look on her face and then said, ‘You mean, you shop at a grocery store just like we do? You’re making the same purchasing decisions that we are?’ When I told her that yes, I’m shopping at a local supermarket and buying food exactly the way you do, that surprised her,” she said.
Often, making a connection with an urban mom is simply about making an effort to understand that we all want the same things for our families and that we all face the same decisions every day.
Donna shared that in this particular meeting with the Parent’s Circle in Evanston, IL, she mostly answered questions about pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and whether or not the moms needed to be spending more money on organic and non-GMO foods.
“This group was open and wanted to learn more,” she said. “They asked me, ‘I want to know if I need to be spending 2-3 times the money on organic and non-GMO foods or if this is ally hype.’ This is the sort of group that we need to reach out to and answer questions.”
These are common questions. Families have a lot of concerns about what they read in the media and whether or not that’s true. Donna’s evening with one group of urban moms likely changed the course of their purchasing decisions forever. Even if they still purchase organic and non-GMO foods, they are doing so based on factual information from a farmer instead of biased marketing hype from the media.
“I talked to them about Illinois Farm Families and encouraged them to apply to be in our new group of Field Moms. I encouraged them to go to our website, www.watchusgrow.org, to get some of the answers to their questions. I think they are definitely open to meeting with farmers again in the future and I’m happy we’ve developed a relationship with them,” Donna said.