Meal Five: Janice Person and Friends
– written by Grant
People are complicated.
Take Janice Person in Monsanto Public Affairs. She has reached out and engaged the One Hundred Meals project and invited us to St. Louis for tours of their corporate headquarters and growing facilities. Now, you could view us as a thorn in her side, but she engaged us in a friendly way, so off we went!
So she has this job. Monsanto PR. Yikes! But she also has a brother and a nephew who are organic farmers. Huh? Yup.
And we had dinner with her at Niche in St. Louis – Meal Five: Janice Person and Friends. The food from Gerard Craft was amazing, by the way. Never mind all this annoying food policy talk; get thee to Niche for dinner!
Janice’s friends at dinner are also ours – Mike Haley and Ray Prock, conventional farmers who have this way of listening to us. They want to engage and learn and share so much that it is disarming. And don’t we all have our weapons drawn these days? Yeah, we all could use some disarming. Read their content at Just Farmers if you don’t believe me.
So anyway, the point of this post is to tell you that in a few short months I have been able to go from a person who would have said – “Heck no! No way I’m sitting down to a civilized dinner at a fancypants restaurant with Monsanto and be able to enjoy my meal!” to a person who, to use my previous language, had dinner with the enemy and thoroughly enjoyed both the food and the company.
After all, meals are more than food. They are community-building and best shared with friends and family.
When you sit down to a friendly dinner with people you are learning to respect, not agree with, but respect, you find that you have things in common. We both garden, enjoy good food and drink (uh, thank you Paul Virant for inventing that incredible chocolatey-habanero-bourbon-barrel-aged beer!) And you differ on things – Janice is considering spraying Roundup on the irritating mint taking over her garden. Does not compute! But to each his own, I guess.
And you find that although someone like Janice works for Monsanto, she is not Monsanto.
Janice is a person.
Corporations are not people.
But they are made up of people.
And people are complicated.
Which might all be to say:
Our food system is complicated.
As I learned the next day.