I can only imagine what comes to the mind of a farmer that has been working their fields for the past 50 years, when I mention the word “blog” to them. They likely think I’m about to be sick – “BllllOgg”, what a weird sounding word. It’s hard to professionally legitimize a word like “blog”, especially to someone already reluctant to checking their email, but the time has come to recognize that consumer messaging has changed significantly in the past 10 years and blogs are essentially online journals attached to relatable, trust-worthy identities. Identities that consumers are more likely to pay attention to than a talking animation on TV.
This food blogger is committed to featuring the spring/summer/fall crops of Durham Region through recipes, reviews and culinary adventures this year. I want to blog, tweet and Instagram about the food, the farmers and the land, with the hope that others will see just how easy and beneficial eating local can be. Now, the challenge is to convince the farmers and Chefs to get on board and allow me to gain an inside perspective of their process.
Earlier this week, Brett and I attended Savour Durham’s Farmer / Chef Workshop and had a great opportunity to listen and discuss local cuisine with some of the creators in the area. The event included guest speakers Rebecca LeHeup, Executive Director of the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance, Michael Stadlander, acclaimed Chef of Eigensinn Farm and Haisai Restaurant and one of the key coordinators of Foodstock 2011, and our very own local celebrity Chef, Christian Pritchard. Each speaker did an excellent job inspiring the crowd with their personal approaches to local food, though, with a lot of talk, comes a need for action. We were all there to network and ultimately benefit our local food industry, but the question remains, how do we fully engage consumers to buy local as often as they can? How do we deter every dollar spent on tomatoes in July at a corporate grocery chain and put it back into the community instead? I may not have all of the answers, but I do feel that blogging and other forms of social media are excellent routes to promoting the local produce and garnering positive attention from the general public.
Yes, many farmers are still reluctant to adopt social networking as a normal business practice. I get that; there’s nothing tangible for them to appreciate and few have seen the long-term gain of using the promotional medium. The points that I am trying to get across are these:
- It’s an inexpensive way to promote the business
- With the right message and platform, your reach and frequency can be far great than any traditional medium
- An expectation to be available has been set in the consumer’s mind
I tend to get a little further in the conversation when I avoid the term “blog” and stick to being a “writer” instead. The main difference between “blogging” and “writing” is the process. My published articles have been edited and refined to fit the requirements of that publication. The focal message may remain, but my editor has final say on the layout, and that’s the price we pay to be published. A blog is an opinion/thought in its sincerest form, a “brain-dump” if you will.
I think I just gave myself an idea. I recently bought www.durhamregionfoodie.com, not certain what I’d do with it. This domain may be the perfect opportunity to invite some other food writers/bloggers/lovers/tweeters from the region to submit recipes and articles about their in-season recipes and experiences? We can create a collective website with the domain, and together possibly afford a printed booklet to distribute at the farmer’s markets. Durham Region Foodie: Your guide to eating local, I like the sound of that. Once the concept can be identified by the producers, they will be eager to get involved. Most importantly, the message is what ingredients are in-season and how to use them in cost-effective, easy, family-friendly, delicious ways.
I’m getting that tingling sensation, the one that I only get when I’m really excited about an idea.
What do you think? Durham Region Foodie, the next stage for scrumptious local knowledge.
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