By Tobie Blanchard, LSU AgCenter
NEW ORLEANS — Nearly 90 miles from the nearest Starbucks in the northeast corner of Iowa, Michelle Miller’s fashion degree doesn’t mean much.
Her days working for Gucci on Rodeo Drive are a distant memory. Expensive organic groceries no longer put a dent in her wallet.
When she found her “prince farming,” Miller, the self-professed Farm Babe, found her passion.
Miller advocates for farmers, pushes for fair food labeling and busts agricultural myths through her Farm Babe blog, her website, social media, a weekly column on AgDaily.com and speaking engagements.
Miller conducted a social media workshop at the 96th Annual Convention of the Louisiana Farm Bureau. There she encouraged fellow farmers to take on tough topics and share their stories.
She also detailed her journey from organic-eating, GMO-hating big city consumer to Farm Babe blogger and part owner in a family farm raising cattle, sheep, corn, soybeans, oats and hay.
Through her sixth generation farmer boyfriend, Miller learned first-hand that what she thought she knew about agriculture was false.
“The more I learned, the more I couldn’t believe how duped I was and how much I had spent on groceries unnecessarily,” Miller said.
As the Farm Babe, Miller sees herself as the antithesis to the Food Babe, a food blogger and activist who has a large following of individuals Miller thinks are a lot like she used to be — unaware of how agriculture really operates.
Three and half years ago, Miller started her blog on Facebook, which now has 90,000 followers, to combat the misinformation on food and farming.
“When you have to slander and lie to consumers to sell a product, that is what I have a problem with,” Miller said.
In 2014, Miller moved to Iowa from Florida, where she was living as a “globetrotting bartender.” She has visited 60 countries and her Farm Babe persona keeps her on the road as she speaks at conferences, conventions and workshops.
But a life in agriculture has a way of rooting a person, and Miller feels at home on the farm, a life she wasn’t completely unfamiliar with as a child.
Miller participated in 4-H as a youth and did chores on a friend’s grandparents’ farm in her native Wisconsin. She said aptitude tests she took in high school all pointed to a career in agriculture.
It just took her a while to realize those tests were right.
Miller tries to spread her message with empathy, kindness and humor and in ways general consumers can understand. She said she aims to help people decipher fact from fiction while giving a stronger voice to science.
She has seen the rewards of her efforts.
“When I get a message from a mother thanking me because before she was terrified about what to feed her child, that’s powerful,” she said.
Miller is working to take the fear out of food from conventional farms and saving consumers money in the long run — all while being quite the babe.
Founded in 1922, the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general farm organization representing more than 140,000 member families.