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The other side of the ‘agvocacy’ world

Nurse Loves Farmer: An attempt to fill a knowledge gap turned into a backlash of criticism against me

A few years ago I started “agvocating” for agriculture. I saw a gap that needed to be filled in the mommy blogging and food blogging worlds, as they desperately wanted to be more connected to where their food came from. The assumptions, the myths and the fear that was being spread in these communities made me feel called to fill that knowledge gap with what we were doing on our family grain farm, and why.

This is when I started diving into very basic research and interviewing experts regarding GMOs, organic farming, pesticides, and any other controversial topic I could think of. I used my well-established platforms and reader base in the mommy blogging and parenting communities to share what I was learning, in the hopes of easing consumer fears. We already fear so many things about raising our children, so what we feed them and how that food is grown, shouldn’t be added into the worry.

Through my blog I have been fortunate enough to have many opportunities to share what I’ve learned about agriculture and what we do on our family farm. I have travelled through parts of United States as a participant in a food and farm blogging group tour which toured farms and connected with experts in the industry to have great roundtable discussions with popular food bloggers. I have been a speaker at various farming conferences and agriculture meetings throughout Western Canada about what I have done on my blog. I have tried my best to encourage people that it is essential to share their farm stories in the title of my presentation “Don’t Let the Activists Drive Your Combine.”

And now, I’m a hypocrite, not practising what I preach.

There is a whole other side of this agvocacy world, and that involves farmers on social media. The biggest backlash and criticisms about what I say, write, and do are from farmers on social media, primarily on Twitter. Somehow, a group of farmers from the Midwest in the United States was under the impression that I was “speaking for all farmers” on one of my most popular blog posts titled “How Much Glyphosate Do We Spray on Our Crops?” I was told that I was lying about how much glyphosate (Roundup) we spray on our canola on our farm in Alberta, and that it misled consumers and made the corn and soybean growers look bad, as they spray far more glyphosate on their crops than we do. I always make it explicitly clear on my blog posts that I share what we do on our farm, and that I do not speak for all farmers. I guess they didn’t get the memo, but that didn’t stop the criticisms, name-calling and bullying that ensued.

I have been threatened in a variety of ways by food activists. I have had one lady file a complaint against me to the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta, as she claimed I was “selling pesticides” on my blog. The complaint was quickly dismissed and my career, and licence as an RN were safe, but someone tried to have me fired for blogging about GMOs and pesticides! I have caught the attention and been bullied by Dr. William Davis, author of the book Wheat Belly. I have received multiple threats and have been called every name under the sun in the comments section on my blog and on my Facebook page for writing about these controversial topics. I have been called a bad mother. I have even had a person write that they hoped our plane crashed on our trip to Maui a couple of years ago, simply because I share what we do on our farm.

This, I can take. However, when it’s farmers who are so cruel and make parody accounts to make fun of me and what I do on my blog? That’s where I draw the line and have actively taken a huge step back in my agvocating. I feel it is the biggest disservice that the agriculture community can do: fight publicly and criticize each other’s methods of agvocacy and farming. How do we think this reflects to consumers?

When I got pregnant with our third baby and gave birth to him, I took that opportunity to reconnect to my blogging roots in the mommy blogging world. All the hard work I’ve put into researching and writing my blog posts on agriculture still lives on my blog for all to see. The more I connect with new moms and gain new readership on my blog, the further reach I have to new audiences who may not have any other connection to agriculture. I can’t fight with farmers anymore, but I will always continue to share what we do on our farm and to share our story.

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