2018 Calgary Stampede International Agriculture and Agri-Food Profile

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The Valuable Interface Between Consumers, Farmers and Food P R O D U C E R S T O D AY FA C E C H A L L E N G E S T H AT T H O S E B E F O R E T H E M N E V E R D I D. R A P I D A D VA N C E S I N T E C H N O L O G Y L E A D T O U N T O L D B E N E F I T S F O R T H E I N D U S T R Y, B U T T H E Y C O M E AT A C O S T. A S H I F T T O D I G I TA L C O M M U N I C AT I O N C R E AT E S S O C I A L P L AT F O R M S W H E R E C O N S U M E R C O N F U S I O N C A N F L O U R I S H. BY STEPHANIE OSTERMANN

Most food consumers are now several generations removed from farmers, and this growing disconnect has contributed to the confusion that many consumers feel when it comes to food production. They have an almost nostalgic trust for farmers but lack a clear understanding of how the food they eat moves from the farmer to the store, and that uncertainty has led to a lack of trust for the food production system as a whole. In the widening gap between food consumers and producers, the Calgary Stampede is a major facilitator in fostering conversations of understanding. The Calgary Stampede, with its glittering midway, big-name concerts and countless new ways to deep fry foods, has deep roots in a rich history of agriculture in Alberta and beyond. But as Mackenzie Argent, agriculture programming manager at the Calgary Stampede

20 I N T E R N A T I O N A L A G R I C U L T U R E A N D A G R I - F O O D C O M M I T T E E

points out, the 10-day exhibition, and countless other yearround efforts, are a vital part of closing the gap. “The Calgary Stampede reaches 1.3 million people every year. By creating interactive learning opportunities for consumers to learn key messages about how food is produced, we can create positive experiences for people to relate to food.� Some of those messages include the ones being shared at the UFA Cattle Trail, which draws more than 100,000 visitors during the 10 days of Stampede. Marking its eighth year in 2018, the Cattle Trail is an interactive journey focused on educating consumers about the beef industry, from gate to plate. Virgil Lowe, chair of the Beef Cattle Committee and business manager of Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+), explains that the display has evolved to meet the interests