Navigating the farm to food conversation during a pandemic — a LIVE! with Crystal Mackay

Amanda Brodhagen, Crystal Mackay, and Lyndsey Smith, in conversation at Canada’s Ag Day celebrations in Ottawa.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things, including our relationship with our food system. For the first time in several generations, there were empty grocery store shelves due to disrupted supply chains. What impact has this had on the farm and food conversation and public trust?

In this RealAg LIVE!, Shaun Haney is joined by Crystal Mackay of Loft 32, to talk about what’s top of mind for our customers, what conversations need to happen, and whether or not celebrity endorsements are really all that useful in the farm to fork discussion.

Don’t miss RealAg LIVE! every weekday on social media streaming at 3 pm Eastern!


  • Connecting with consumers
  • What works what doesn’t
  • Are we really getting anywhere on this topic?
  • Long-term, yes. But let’s pause and look at the very short term, re: pandemic
  • Does food scarcity, i.e. empty shelves, change the conversation?
  • Food companies are still marketing, still selling products
  • But what about gaining trust?
  • We need a pause and a re-group. Build relationships. Talk food security.
  • Right now, we’re all about the hierarchy of needs: food and shelter, less about beef vs. dairy, etc.
  • What have we learned about growing food closer to home? Definitely gained in importance and value during the pandemic.
  • Authentic communication and transparency matters right now.
  • Who is doing this really well?
  • Food bank efforts are working well, and farmers working with food banks, too
  • Acting locally
  • If you’re not trying to sell something, sometimes ends up being the best conversation
  • There’s a reason we’re a little gun-shy on some of this. Agriculture has taken its lumps.
  • Not everyone wants to have these conversations
  • If you do, go where the people are
  • Most of them are not on ag Twitter, y’all
  • New neighbourhood, new BBQ, get to know people
  • What’s It’s a self-guided learning tool! Created with Andrew Campbell.
  • Keep it simple, keep it fun
  • What about celebrity endorsements? Yay or nay?
  • It all depends on who it is, and you would get tonnes of eye balls, but is that really moving the conversation forward, likely not
  • But we might be able to get some big names to become part of the real conversations
  • Challenge the stereotypes and pre-conceived notions
  • Sometimes we need to start with the love and the passion for the farm, and not try and prove our tech
  • Chefs, dieticians, and food influencers!

Crystal would like to give a high five to all the good people in the agri-food sector with a discount code to Real Ag listeners for the brand new “Grow Your Brand” training. Register at with the code “HIGH5”