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"In 2009, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s expert paper, How to Feed the World 2050, ranged widely on immense potential solutions to eradicating hunger, including the world’s socio-economic environment, the use of natural resources, the political will of governments, the necessary investment in agriculture research, climate change and sustainability. But starkly missing was one natural element to their solution: the human element. FAO circled — but overlooked — the continual need to infuse man’s ingenuity, and to recruit, form and develop that ingenuity. How and where do this recruitment, formation and development occur? Where do we look for future food system leaders?

Many will answer: the university.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more young men and women now attend degree-granting institutions than ever before, approximately 21 million. Even though only a small percentage will graduate with a degree in agriculture and natural resources, one in five will nestle into a career within the U.S. food system as scientist, farmer, veterinarian, nutritionist, retailers or other.

In addition, all will go on to accept their ever expanding and most powerful role: consumer.

Therefore, what is being taught to impressionable young men and women at the university becomes immensely important, not only for the health of agriculture and agribusiness in the United States, but also for the health and well-being of the world.

Recognizing this reality, in 2012 Truth in Food began a college-outreach program targeting three universitiesone large, one medium and one faith-based. Shortly after the program’s launch, three schools became six, six became 12 and today that program targets all 62 four-year colleges and universities within the state of Missouri. As the program’s success has widened, so has its reach to universities throughout the United States.

Accumulated in the following pages are the top 10 lessons from this outreach effort.

These lessons are piercing! At Truth in Food we hope these conclusions change the way agriculture goes about “university relations,” since agriculture, agribusiness, the U.S. food system and farmers themselves are experiencing an unprecedented assault on their integrity, either originating from or compounded at the university level.

It’s certain that agriculture can no longer wait for the university to produce the next generation of food system leaders and then pursue the timely and costly process of challenging and attempting to convert deeply imbedded and taught flawed views. Modern agriculture must show up on college campuses and contend for the truth at the moment of impact, not merely abiding in the agricultural halls but interacting with the humanities where the conversation is rife.

Truth in Food has engaged in this process, and we urgently ask you to do the same. Call (816) 863-8880 if you’d like these findings presented to your team, or email kmurphy@foodchaincommunications.com.

Click here to download the entire report.

Lesson 1: Not the message, but the medium

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