(Posted Mon. Jan 9th, 2012)

Jan. 9: The Kansas State University Lady Wildcats may have shot better hoops than the University of Kansas Lady Jayhawks Saturday night, but the real winners were the farm women who started a conversation about food at Allen Fieldhouse prior to the game. Teresa Brandenburg, Kara James and LaVell Winsor hosted dinner to launch the Kansas arm of the CommonGroundTM program, a national grassroots movement designed to bridge the gap between the women who grow food and those who buy it.


The event brought together members of the media, academics and government officials to discuss modern farming. During the dinner, guests were invited to partake in conversation about farming and food while enjoying delicious food and the company of the new Kansas CommonGround volunteer farmers.


The reason Kansas became a part of the CommonGround movement was clear during dinner as Alton, Kan., CommonGround volunteer Teresa Brandenburg explained. “Many consumers are confronted by a barrage of inaccurate information and rumors about food,” she said. “All three of us (volunteers) want to share our stories and personal understanding of agriculture and food. Who is better to tell that story than someone like me, a mom and a farmer?”


Throughout the dinner, the volunteers shared anecdotes from their farm and used their agriculture knowledge and expertise to address guest’s concerns about our nation’s food supply.


“Many of the topics we discussed centered around the facts on organics and implications of a shift toward eating locally produced foods,” said LaVell Winsor, a grain farmer from Grantville, Kan. She enjoyed being able to address misconceptions throughout the evening. “Some of the attendees pulled me into a discussion on the benefits of organics to ask for my thoughts. I explained that, while farmers in our country do provide a variety of healthy, safe options, there is no evidence that organic production results in a more nutritious, healthier choice. Really, they could rest assured that they were providing their family with the wholesome nourishment they need whether they buy organic or conventionally produced foods. It was great being able to put a face and a name with agriculture so that people knew they can contact a real person about farming and food!”


To close out the evening, guest were encouraged to fill their reusable CommonGround grocery bags with facts about food production and recipes the volunteers shared from their own kitchens. Following the dinner, the entire group was invited to join in the festivities and watch the University of Kansas women’s basketball team take on their rivals from Manhattan.


“As a Kansas CommonGround volunteer, I hope our guests left with a better understanding of how food is grown and that, as farmers, we want to speak with the public about what we do,” said Karra James, CommonGround volunteer from Clay Center, Kan. “When farmers like myself say something about food I think our message comes from a more genuine place because we are connected directly to agriculture.”


Supported by the United Soybean Board and the National Corn Growers Association, the CommonGround program is now moving forward in 15 states, including Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and South Dakota. The movement will continue to grow and expand nationwide.


Want to join the CommonGround conversation? Stay tuned for more CommonGround Kansas updates and what you can to help.


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