“Consumers want to know the people behind the food,” says Monchuk, whose love for agriculture was sparked by a childhood spent riding on the tractor with his dad. So, he’s made a point of chatting them up.
“I feel this passion for speaking to consumers has not only benefitted me personally but helped the agriculture industry open up a dialogue with consumers,” says Monchuk, who also serves as executive director of Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan, a coalition of farm families, agribusinesses, food processors, restaurants, retailers and food companies based in Saskatchewan.
He believes that personal outreach — “one conversation at a time” — can help counter the misinformation about food and farming that proliferates on social media.
“Consumers are sometimes shocked to know that my wife will take a bucket of yellow peas from the back of our harvester and boil them to make into soup,” says Monchuk, who raises canola, malting barley, wheat, yellow peas, flax, soybeans, mustard and laying hens on his diversified family farm. “We take pride in what we grow, and I feel if I can put that food on our table for my children to eat, it’s worthy for everyone.”
That’s a key message for Monchuk, whose crops were developed with the tools of biotechnology to resist weather stresses and disease and improve the ease of harvesting. “Farmers make choices that are best for sustainability and we can see over time that these [biotechnology] options provide better long-term results for many farmers,” he explains. “We grow food for hundreds of thousands of people each year and that food allows others to be doctors, teachers, police officers–the things I can’t be.”