When I was 6, I remember telling my parents I wanted to be a farmer. My parents, wonderfully supportive people, laughed the way you do when a kid says something dumb and let it go. We lived in a Toronto suburb, there was virtually no farming left in the city at that time and save for my maternal grandmother growing up on a farm, my family was a few generations removed from farming.
When I was 8, my career goals switched to being a cowboy (cow-woman?). I was under the belief that all cowboys needed to be able to play the guitar so that they could sing songs around a campfire after a long day of horse riding and cattle sorting (like I said, nice suburban up-bringing, no farm knowledge). I got guitar lessons out of that but after a year of awkwardly plucking along, I gave that up.
My career goals switched up a bit more after that (professional horseback rider, teacher, scientist, prime minister of Canada) but I eventually decided to go to university with the goal of being a veterinarian. I realized about a year and a half into my degree that the stress and competition involved in getting into vet school wasn’t for me so I began looking into alternatives. My degree fell under the school’s agriculture college and since I had liked everything I had learned up to that point about agriculture and I knew there were jobs waiting in that field (pun intended), I focused all my attention on learning as much as I could about it. I’ve since graduated and have landed a great job working with an animal genetics company.
The most important thing I learned while I was in school is that the average person doesn’t know a lot about where their food comes from. It’s not the average person’s fault – in Canada, with less than 2% of the population still farming, most people don’t see a need to put more thought into their food, its just waiting for them to buy it at the grocery store. For many people they have no interest in learning more and that’s ok for them. But for those of you who want to know more, or my friends and family who’ve kindly clicked on the blog link to support me, or a stranger who may have stumbled across my blog, this is for you.
A couple months ago, I got to hear one of my favourite research scientists speak. His name is Dr. Kevin Folta and he does research on fruit and vegetable flavours and growing plants under artificial lights at the University of Florida and more importantly, he does at lot of science communication and outreach (You can check out his blog and podcast here). I shot him an email after his talk and it was his encouragement that got me to start this blog. I was feeling nervous, afraid of activists coming after me, afraid of writing something that was bad, concerned that I might embarrass myself along the way. His words stuck with me:
“You just have to start. It will never be perfect, especially at first…To build and grow, you must start with something. I’d recommend the blog. Do it.”
So that’s how I’ve gotten to this point. I’m going to aim to post something every other week, sharing cool agriculture facts and trying a little bit of myth-busting along the way. I promise to share all my sources so you can read up on stuff more if you want. I’m happy to take suggestions on things anyone wants me to write about, so feel free to hit me with science questions that maybe you think are too silly to ask someone (they’re not silly questions, not asking is the silly thing). Finally, I promise that if I ever post something that is inaccurate I’ll correct it. I hope it doesn’t happen, but if it does I promise to rectify it as soon as it does.
So here we go. Let’s do it.
Edit: The first version of this said that Kevin Folta does his research on citrus greening. I got that wrong and he corrected me, his research is on fruit and vegetable flavours and growing plants under artificial lights. See, I corrected something that I had mistaken!