By Abbey Nickel
LOUISVILLE – Dennis Dimick, a former FFA member and the executive environmental editor at National Geographic, says that by 2050, the world will need to find a way to pay for 50 million more people.
Dimick, who spoke at the 87th National FFA Convention & Expo to a crowd of FFA members, alumni, and supporters of the National FFA Foundation said the answer to that problem starts with us by starting a conversation about agriculture and getting to know the faces that help put our food on the table.
Dimick has produced issues of National Geographic that focus on ideas such as food security, population and fresh water. These issues, Dimick said, were designed to help start conversations and educate more people about the purpose of food and agriculture.
“If we’re going to grow more food, we need to grow more people to do it. All these issues are all connected through FFA somehow,” said Dimick.
Dimick said that the outlook for the future of food needs to start with working to close the gap between farmers and the people who eat their food.
“The food market is a compelling argument. What we’re trying to do is start a discussion not just within agriculture, but between agriculture and the public. We need to try to help appreciate what it takes and who is involved,” he said.
Dimick said that food production is sometimes stereotyped to be from large, industrial operations – but he says it’s important to educate others about the falsehood of that stereotype.
“It doesn’t have to be industrial farms versus smaller farms. We need to get the general public on board and get thinking about it in a simple and direct way. It’s not just large operations providing others with food; it’s people around the world who are building on small plots of land too,” he said.
Dimick pointed out that Americans need to be conscious of the fact that there are smaller countries around the globe who don’t have the resources to grow and provide quality food for their communities.
“People like this need to be helped,” Dimick said. “They need the tools and techniques that we take for granted. All of these people are farmers and agriculturists, too.”
It all starts with an open dialogue, according to Dimick. By starting a dialogue, the world can find a way to effectively produce quality, safe food.
Another important part of starting a dialogue is to remember the enjoyment that food brings into the lives of others – not just the issues and controversy that surround it.
“What we’re trying to do is tell stories. The role of food in civilization is that it brings us together. We are trying to make it clear that it’s not just about the issues, but about the joy of food in our lives. Sometimes we take it for granted,” Dimick said.
Dimick said that for FFA members, utilizing resources such as social media and the Internet can help start discussions and eliminate stereotypes.
“It’s about helping people. If you’re trying to inform people, use social media to show them videos, articles, photos,” Dimick said. “And remember, it’s not what you say, but how you live.”