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The latest from CFI...

It’s Time to Change the Conversation. Here’s How. 

“We’re feeding the world” is a mantra often used by those involved in farming and food to build support for modern food production systems. But the latest research from The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) tells us most consumers don’t care.

The global population is forecast to reach nine billion by 2050. Feeding the nine billion will require technology and innovation that will help farmers raise more animals for food and grow more crops on the land already in production. But the ‘feeding the world” message won’t generate public support for today’s agriculture technology.

In fact our latest CFI consumer trust research, “Cracking the Code on Food Issues: Insights from Moms, Millennials and Foodies,” shows that only 25 percent of consumers believe that the U.S. has a responsibility to provide food for the rest of the world.

It’s time to change the conversation.

What consumers care about most, according to the survey, is having access to healthy, affordable food. For the last two years, that’s been a top concern.

Farmers are more likely to build support for today’s farming by talking about how what they do on the farm helps keep healthy food affordable. That’s what matters to them.

For example, share how modern farming innovations like genetically modified seed and indoor animal handling systems allow farmers to produce safe food using fewer resources, with the added benefit of holding down costs.

Building trusting relationships with consumers is about making what you’re doing relevant to them and helping them understand that you share their values when it comes to important issues like animal care, the environment and providing healthy, affordable food.

Our peer-reviewed and published trust model tells us that communicating with shared values is three-to-five times more important to building consumer trust than simply providing information.

Helping consumers understand that you value what’s important to them goes a long way toward building trust.

Charlie Arnot                                                                                                                                                                                    
CEO, The Center for Food Integrity

Click on the infographic below to download.

Download a summary of the CFI research, “Cracking the Code on Food Issues: insights from Moms, Millennials and Foodies” at Reach us at

CFI Shares Briefs that Focuses on the Social Impacts of GM Technology

CFI will be sharing a series of briefs called GMO: Beyond the Science published on in social media throughout the first quarter of 2015. The series uses experts to explain the negative social implications of stifling GM technology and focuses on the importance of GM technology as we look to feed a growing global population as well as other benefits of GM technology. See an overview of the six briefs. At CFI, we believe the briefs contain important messages and ones worth sharing. January through March 2015, CFI will be focusing on sharing one brief every two weeks in social media. If your organization is interested in sharing the briefs in social media as well and would like us to share our drafted social media content for each brief, contact us.  


Listen: Do You Want to Know a Secret?

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
- Stephen R. Covey The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Imagine that two people are talking to you at the same time. For 60 seconds, Person A tells you about his day and Person B gives you directions on how to save a drowning child.

When the minute is up, recite what you remember.

Chances are you only remember bits and pieces of each person’s conversation. Would you feel confident in the steps needed to save a drowning child? Probably not. It’s valuable information that was lost on you as you juggled comprehending two dialogues at once.

This scenario illustrates what often happens when we’re in a conversation.

Person B represents the person with whom we’re talking and Person A represents that voice in our heads that’s either pondering what to say next or thinking about what’s for dinner. That voice keeps us from truly hearing what’s important to the person across from us.

What’s the secret to effective communication? We must master the art of listening, particularly when it comes to effectively engaging with today’s consumer who deserves balanced, credible information about food, where it comes from and who’s producing it.

We know from our research that communicating with shared values is three-to-five times more important to building consumer trust than simply providing information. But if we’re not listening – if we’re distracted by our own thoughts about how to respond and what information we can provide to educate – how could we possibly know where the other person’s values lie?

Building trust goes beyond the information dump. Often, those in food and agriculture believe if they just provide more information, consumers will come to their side. But it doesn’t work that way. Yes, information is important, but finding those shared values connections first is what really moves the needle.

Consumers simply want to know that you share their values and are doing the right things for the right reasons. So, keep that internalconversation at bay. Actively listening to understand their values and then sharing our own is the best strategy.
To learn more about our Engage and Engage Young Leaders shared values communications training, contact Jana McGuire at


Posted By Jana McGuire, Communications Coordinator, Center for Food Integrity

3 Things Reporters Don’t Want You to Know

Newsrooms are crazy places to work. News never stops, yet staffs continue to shrink as budgets tighten. Reporters are asked to do a lot more with a lot less. Case in point: the Chicago Sun-Times cut its entire photography staff last year and asked reporters to step up to shoot their own photos and video. That’s a lot of balls to juggle when you’re trying to do a story justice.

As a former TV reporter, I can tell you it’s an exciting business, but can also be exhausting when news is popping all over town or on days when it’s a monumental struggle to find something remotely interesting to put on the air. (You know, those days when the Shriner’s annual Vidalia onion sale is the lead story.)

top secret

Either way, if you get the call for an interview there are three things you should know that reporters would you didn’t – but will help you tell your story.  

1.       They May Have No Idea What to Ask

Reporters probably won’t know your business and sometimes will have very little time to prepare for the interview. If that’s the case, you’ll likely get the vague “fishing-for-information” questions: “So, tell me what’s going on?” or, at the end of the interview, “Is there anything else you’d like to add?”

Take advantage. Both questions are opportunities to insert your key messages. “What’s important to remember is...[insert good stuff].” The reporter likely will include in the story the messages you repeat most.

 2.       Their Short-Term Memory is Questionable

If a reporter asks the same question twice, there could be a couple things going on. One, they may not have liked your first answer. Or, they simply forgot they already asked the question. Why? While the subject is answering one question, the reporter is doing double duty trying to digest the response and come up with a compelling follow-up question. The one-man-band reporters not only have to worry about questions, but about whether or not the composition of the shot is still OK, and if the camera and mic are still working. Honestly, there were times when I didn’t even hear the answer because I was too busy thinking ahead or worrying about the gear.

Your inner voice may be saying, “Didn’t you just ask...?” But use the repeat question to state a key message a different way. Maybe it didn’t roll off your tongue the way you intended the first time around. The reporter may prefer – and use – the second version. Hooray for distracted reporters!

3.       They Want You to Make Their Lives Easier

Depending on the news day, reporters may have two or three stories to get out the door. That’s a lot. You’ll be a hero if, A) you do your best to work with their deadlines, B) you’re prepared with concise message points, and C) you offer visuals that enhance the story. What are the images that best illustrate your message points? Providing guidance for video and photo opportunities ensures that the oftentimes frazzled reporter gets it right.

For more insider media interview tips log on to To learn more about our media, social media and Engage shared-values communication training programs, shoot me a note at

jana Posted By Jana McGuire, Communications Coordinator, Center for Food Integrity


Celebrating Food Every Day

Food plays such an integral role in each of our lives. Consumed for both health and pleasure, in 3-square meals or snacks throughout the day, food is sustenance, pleasure and the root of so many conversations.

Food Day is a multi-dimensional national initiative created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest that celebrates “healthy, affordable and sustainably produced food and a grassroots campaign for better food policies.” The annual event will take place throughout the nation on Oct. 24. Click here for more information about Food Day.

As an integral partner in the food system, the Center for Food Integrity (CFI) believes that it’s important to be a visible and active participant in the messaging surrounding Food Day activities. This includes online interactions that share information from our more than 175 university experts on about subjects such as food production, responsible sustainability and being a transparent partner in the food system.

This year, CFI will highlight Food Day topics on

  We hope you’ll join us in celebrating food!

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