Supporters of conventional farming have begun a grassroots campaign they hope will change the way some consumers look at that industry. The effort is geared toward women in particular.
The group is called CommonGround, and it's made up of entirely of women who work on the farm. Their mission is to reach out to mothers, 70 percent of whom, according to the group's research, have questions on how the food they buy is raised or grown and where it comes from. Wisconsin CommonGround members will answer those questions at places like conventions, grocery stores, and on 'mommy-blogs.' Laura Daniels of Cobb will host bus tours at her farm, "because what we see when people visit our farm is, it's so much easier to ask questions and understand when you see how we do what we do."
Not everyone believes CommonGround is a simple grassroots effort. The organization is funded by the United Soybean Board and the National Corn Growers Association, and is in 16 states. Critics say CommonGround is an effort by large agriculture organizations to bolster their image as more people buy organic. Mark Kastel is with the Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based organic and sustainable farming advocacy organization. He says the national organization of CommonGround is more than what it seems, "A wide swath of the industrial agri-business sector, have been investing in public relations firms to coax farmers to speak out on behalf of their craft. This is a by-product of that initiative."
For her part, Laura Daniels says she isn't promoting any one agenda. She says she's simply answering questions and providing information.