Who are the Agri-Advocates? And Why Food Safety Is Everyone Responsibility
On last week, I was selected to attend a Post- Harvest Farm Tour traveling across various small cities in Florida. During this explosive week tour, I was able to view the Orlando Marriott Hotel (in-door) hydroponic system, Wal-Mart and Del Monte distribution center, including (18) small farms and agribusinesses contributing to the food system. The tour was absolutely AH-MAZING (amazing). You saw every aspect of farming, packing, and the shipping process including procedures to secure food safety.
Our University has a food safety grant educating farmers and agribusiness about new policies including providing Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Growers Training, (PSA) Train-the-Trainers and GAP certifications in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. The problem is many small and limited resource farmers appear to be unaware of these new policies directly affecting them. I am Agri-Advocate (educator, motivator and ag influencer), educating and empowering everyone on various aspect of agriculture including food safety, farm to table concept, promoting why agriculture is needed and why farming is so important in communities. In addition, it is one of my many responsibilities to educate the general public, stakeholders, and farmers about these policies and trends within 2018 Farm Bill-Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Whether you work closely with farmers, food banks, or agribusiness, in many cases you are receiving local fresh fruits and vegetable from these entities. Please let us never forget “good food is safe food.” An old African proverb comes to mind, “It takes a village to raise a child.” This same concept applies to food system. It takes an entire community of different people interacting and educating our small and limited resource farmers to inform them of the new policies/procedures and research-based good agricultural practices in order to maintain their business and continue to produce safe wholesome foods. We are the Agri-Advocates- "the village." We must continue to be vigilant and take notice of our children- our farmers. Within the food system community, food safety involves everyone in the food chain. For many of us, we see these farmers every day and as Agri-Advocate it is up to all of us to pass along the knowledge including to have those tough discussion on good agriculture practices and what they are doing to make the food safe from farm to table. Caring is sharing, so let us continue to educate and empower our clientele-farmers and agribusiness. We are all Agri-Advocate whether we want to admit it or not. Therefore, we must keep in mind when we gamble with food safety, we bet our life and others, and that price is too heavy to have a change of heart.
UPCOMING PSA Training Programs. Located Throughout the USA
Special thanks to University of Florida for hosting the Post Harvest Farm Tour. Extended thanks to Dr. Armitra Jackson-Davis with Alabama A&M University for the invitation.