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By: Morgan Gadd, Texas FFA News Staff
December 15, 2014

Regardless of your background or religion, one universal American tradition is food and fellowship during the holiday season. As the central focus of many family gatherings, food provides so much conversation. Once discussion of how delicious Aunt Kenda's chicken soup comes to a close, these food topics can become controversial in nature. Everyone has their own perspective about what foods, methods of food production or pieces of food-related legislation are best. We trust that as advocates for the world's largest industry you will do your best to balance the moral with the scientific as you respond to your loved ones and tell the story of agriculture.

As you prepare for these conversations, know your facts first and be aware of topics that may arise. Here are a few resources which you can use to get information and credible commentary to support your principles:

The United States Department of Agriculture
National Agricultural Statistics Service
Brownfield Ag News
Farm Journal
Focusing on Ag Issues
No matter how conflicting these discussions may become, keep in mind that you and your loved one agree on two things: your love for each other and the importance of food. Keep in mind the timeless landing-gear fix as you engage in these discussions.

Decades ago, pilots flying a passenger jet en route to Florida noticed that the landing-gear light came on yet they did not hear the landing-gear deploy. In their pursuit of fixing the light and finding the problem, they failed to attend to landing the jet. Tragically, the plane crashed resulting in the passengers' deaths. 

The pilots were so intent on fixing the wrong problem; they failed to attend to their number one priority.

The statement has been made that 20% of people already and will always agree with you, 20% of people do not and will never agree with you, and the 60% remaining are on the fence. Realize that if a person has already identified with a viewpoint, even the best laid arguments will never change their opinion. Your presentation of countering facts or opposing morals will only provide them the opportunity to polish their argument in the same way that being the devil's advocate helps you to better understand all sides of a situation. This may provide for interesting conversation; however that intrigue can come at the expense of your relationship and can make other loved ones quite uncomfortable. 

If you have this conversation with someone who already agrees with your principles on food and agriculture, the conversation can be pleasant. It can also rally others to the cause as they hear the shared enthusiasm. 
The way in which these discussions can add the most value is when shared with the undecided 60%. With one positive impression you have the opportunity to create a ripple effect and advocate the agriculture.

The bottom line is to enjoy these meals with those whom you love and celebrate the opportunity to be together. You know how much time and energy on the behalf of thousands of hard working people has been invested in bringing a family meal to the table. We hope that your food, the hands that prepared it, the farmers who grew it and those whom aided in its processing, transportation, marketing and distribution may be blessed this holiday season. We hope you and your families enjoy your time together, and that wonderful things come from your fellowship.

Safe travels, and happy holidays!