A Citiot?

Okay, so I admit it, I’m a bit of a geek. I love words. You’ll find words of inspiration, quotes and phrases not only in my office but also in most of the rooms in my house. (And for those Legally Blonde fans, thanks to a very good friend, yes, I do have a “snap jar!”)

Did I mention I’ve worked in agriculture for over fifteen years?

You can imagine my delight when a recent search of the New Words and Slang section of Merriam- Webster’s Online Dictionary turned up the following:

Citiot – one unfamiliar with country life.

I laughed at first, but then I started thinking about the implications.

Instead of just being funny, the word speaks to the growing informational divide between those living in rural America and those living in urban areas. Even more, it points to the lack of understanding of modern agriculture, occurring not only with our urban neighbors but also among our rural counterparts.  

The question then becomes how do we ensure that individuals living in both rural and urban areas have a better understanding of the importance of the agricultural industry and what it actually takes to ensure grocery store shelves and refrigerators are stocked, teenagers (and baby boomers) have the latest designer blue jeans, and we’re able meet current fuel blending standards?

How does an entire industry change perception and foster a better understanding of the proverbial “farm-to-fork” chain? The answer to this question mirrors the industry itself — lots of people working extremely hard to share the good news about their work with a little (lot of) patience.

Agriculture is a complex and changing industry, one steeped in tradition, flying on the wings of technology and supported by individuals that are among the most committed, hardworking and passionate people that walk the earth.

As an industry, we’re getting better at telling our story and are doing so through initiatives that highlight both the significance of the American farmer and the importance of agriculture. Examples include: America’s Farmers and the Missouri Farmers Care Coalition.

We need to work even harder.

Agriculture has much to be proud of, and we need to take every opportunity, whether at the coffee shop, little league game or on a plane (yep, I’m one of those people) to tell our story. We need to reconnect, explain, and yes, even brag a little.  

Is a word like citiot going to help get us there?

  • Ashlyn

    Great post! So much food for thought (ha!) on how the agricultural community can tell its story to an unfamiliar audience.

    I have to say, as someone who grew up in a rural community and has transitioned to urban life, I don’t like the term “citiot.” I dislike hearing rural people reduced to “bumpkins” and I think this does the same thing inversely. More understanding is needed on all sides of the rural/urban divide, and name-calling, however harmless and well-intentioned, is probably not going to bridge that gap!

  • George Sackett

    My wife has a passion for making a better connection with local farmers. As a result we now run a local farmer’s market where we stress getting to know your farmer. We started with a half dozen and are now up to 15 or so.

    Recently, we were reminded of the trials of trying to run a “family” farm when one of our farmers is having to drop out of the market because of production problems due to weather and labor issues. Hopefully, it is only temporary but it is sad none the less.

    Quite a change for a boy from the city . . . . a former citiot.