A group of local woman are working to spread the “truth about agriculture.”

Western Nebraska Agri-Women was formed seven years ago as an affiliate of American Agri-Women, which is the largest grassroots coalition of women committed to sharing the importance of agriculture to the economy and the environment, according to Janeene Brown, president of the Western Nebraska group.

“You don’t have to be in agriculture to be in our group,” Brown said. “It’s for anybody with an interest in learning about and sharing the truth about agriculture.”

Brown said the group is dedicated to busting myths surrounding the industry and educating people about where their food comes from.

“So many children will tell you milk comes from the store,” Brown said.

While milk is often purchased from a store, it’s important that people remember the farmer who’s cattle produced it in the first place.

The group connects with people through annual events like ag day, a youth rodeo and the KNEB Farm and Ranch Expo, where they host a Farmer’s Share Breakfast. During the breakfast, the group sells burritos for 25 cents.

“Which is how much farmers would make off of the ingredients in the burrito,” Brown said.

She explained that many people believe farmers are benefiting from increased food costs, but in reality, it’s the middle men involved in the process.

The organization also meets with local groups to share a presentation called Truth in Agriculture that is designed to educate people about the influence of fear-based marketing on their food preferences.

Brown said that in a world of social media, memes are often used to scare people into eating or avoiding certain types of food by making them seem better or worse than other types of food. For example, people may shy away from food containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, or gravitate toward organic items.

This isn’t a problem, Brown said, as long as they’re making educated decisions.

“As a society, we’ve forgotten how to do our own research,” Brown said. “You need to look past the meme. Look for the science.”

One example is the Non-GMO Project’s verified seal, Brown said. She explained the seal gives consumers a sign that the product is better than the one without it.

“Non-GMO in and of itself is not a health claim,” Brown said. “It’s a way to make you fear what you’re eating.”

She added that there’s not really any way to test whether or not a food contains GMOs.

According to the Non-GMO Project’s website, “‘GMO Free’ and similar claims are not legally or scientifically defensible to do the limitations of testing methodology.”

Brown grows GMO crops herself.

“I’m using less chemicals and less fossil fuel,” Brown said. “It’s better for the environment.”

Additionally, she said using GMO crops allows producers to feed a growing population using less land.

The fear surrounding GMOs breeds food elitism, leading to people being shamed for what they feed their families, Brown said.

“A well-balanced meal that potentially contains GMOs is better than children eating junk food because it says Non-GMO on the bag,” Brown said.

Western-Nebraska Agri-Women is always looking for new members and those with an interest are encouraged to contact Brown at 308-672-7676 or look for Western Nebraska Agri-Women on Facebook.

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Kamie Stephen is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9041 or via email at kamie.stephen@starherald.com.

Kamie Stephen is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9041 or via email at kamie.stephen@starherald.com.

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