Field to Fork regularly invites PMA members to tell us your stories – mostly recently, we’ve invited you to tell us how your business is promoting sustainability, and how you are promoting access to healthy fruits and vegetables. This past weekend I was reminded of the real-world consequences when our industry doesn’t tell our story – or worse, when we let others control how our industry is depicted.
My fiancé and I had stumbled quite accidentally on a small tapas restaurant in Chicago, and were absolutely delighting in incredible dish after dish prepared right in front of us. (We’d opted to sit at the bar, which as luck would have it also turned out to double as the finishing line in this small store). It was immediately clear to us that the menu had been prepared with love and ingredients chosen with care, and we foodies were in absolute heaven to be so surprised and delighted. So being a writer at heart, I simply had to find out this place’s story. Fortunately the assistant manager and sous chef was working right in front of us, and was quite happy to recount how the stars had aligned to allow the opening only two months ago of what turned out to be a second location of the owner and chef.
As the evening progressed, we queried her about ingredients. What was this leafy green? What kind of apples were these, and from where? (My fiancé is an apple grower and marketer.) As she educated us, we also learned a lot about her perceptions about produce – and her misperceptions. While she was well educated about food and health in general, a knowledge likely driven by her own celiac disease, she had bought into Dirty Dozen-type reports. She also thought that “organic” meant pesticide-free. This was a woman who works in the food industry, and has the ability to impact the dietary habits of easily thousands of people in an average year.
Simply put, we must do a better job of telling our story, folks – and at a minimum, not letting other folks tell our stories for us (often to our detriment). If you don’t already know this, telling our story has many benefits – both intangible, such as building goodwill that can help you in times of potential industry crisis, as I recently saw Earthbound Farms do artfully – and tangible, by helping us overcome misperceptions that limit our markets. And PMA can help you; your PMA staff includes several public relations experts who can help you do so, just give us a call, we are at your service. We can also introduce you about the resources available to help you better understand consumers, including our extensive consumer research library. We look forward to hearing from you.
(Our upcoming Fresh Summit will feature lots of programming on the subject of telling your story – from President & CEO Bryan Silbermann’s annual State of the Industry address to provide you with inspiration, to workshops to provide you with the skills. For more information, visit our Fresh Summit website.)
And if you want to know where to get really good tapas in Chicago, just let me know, I’ll be glad to share their contact information.