#onthefarm with Chris Raines

To change things up, I asked Celeste Laurent, a student at Western Kentucky and a former #onthefarm guest, to guest host this week’s chat. I was unable to follow along, but it looks like Celeste did a great job and had an excellent and insightful conversation with Chris. I was very happy to see so many of our aggie colleagues promote and follow the chat. I think Celeste brought in more chat followers this week than I have in the past two months!

Enjoy this week’s chat below. I’ll be back next week as your regular host. I like the guest moderator approach every couple of weeks, to keep things fresh.

Have a great weekend,


celestelaurent: We’re ready to get started with #onthefarm ! I’m guest hosting today for ur usual host @n_web and joined by guest @iTweetMeat

iTweetMeat: Hey hey!

celestelaurent: For those who don’t know him, @iTweetMeat is Chris Raines, meat scientist and Asst. Professor at Penn State

celestelaurent: Why don’t you start by telling us a little about yourself @iTweetMeat

iTweetMeat: So is this like a blind date or something? Anyway. I am a professor at Penn State Univ, and I work with farmers & meat plants

iTweetMeat: So lotsa fun stuff like marketing, meat quality, HACCP training, regulatory compliance (USDA FSIS), and classroom stuff

iTweetMeat: I grew up in the Northeastern US and kindasorta came “home” after way too too many years in college in OK and KS

iTweetMeat: Um, my favorite meat is lamb chops and I am also a Leo. What else would you like to know abt me?

celestelaurent: Sounds like work keeps you pretty busy! That leads into our first question: Q1 Why did you get involved with social media?

iTweetMeat: Yes, I manage to keep very busy!

iTweetMeat: Q1 I started exploring social media when I kept hearing about it during the Iranian elections. Thought I could use it to comm, 2

iTweetMeat: Q1 Traveling around, doing talks and traditional Extension “stuff” = $$$. Reg meetings are now webinars, so why not reg work?

iTweetMeat: Q1 And everyone seems to have a ? or 2 (and mny have heated opinions, too) abt the meat we eat; hence, here I am.

celestelaurent: You mentioned the $ issue in extension work..Q2 How has PA State embraced social media? Were u encouraged to tweet, facebook,etc?

iTweetMeat: Q2 Yes, $ is an issue, just as it is anywhere. How can I make an “impact” w/o having to travel? SM is a way.

iTweetMeat: Yet assessing the level of impact is the next big challenge — enter … SurveyMonkey!

iTweetMeat: As for other PSU’rs, I have few colleagues using SM, and I suspect there is a comfort level associated w/ it

iTweetMeat: i.e., I’m about the youngest faculty member on campus (or maybe am) and social media is something I’m OK with

iTweetMeat: Added to that challenge is that I am at a “transition point” in communications. I’ve got stakeholders who like SM, E-mail, blogs

iTweetMeat: …and others who only want “snail mail” and face-to-face workshops (the latter, of course, can’t be fully replaced IMO)

iTweetMeat: Oh, and no I was no rly encouraged to Tweet or FB or anything. My dept head blogs, so I started w/ that, too. & now I do this.

celestelaurent: We’ll move on to Q3: You mentioned earlier that everyone has a question or 2 on meat. Do u get more q’s from ag ppl or consumers

iTweetMeat: Q3 — Consumers or farmers? I think it’s about a 50% farmer, 25% chef/meat purveyor/similar, and 25% consumer.

iTweetMeat: How animals are raised, food safety, meat quality — general “themes of the questions” I get

celestelaurent: We’ll run with @NEFarmBureau ‘s question as Q4: Do you think today’s consumers know how to prepare meat?

iTweetMeat: It sure is a great food value, and no, I don’t think many are up to speed on cooking roasts

iTweetMeat: But that brings up an interesting point in the observations I’ve made of “ag” and “them”

iTweetMeat: Some of today’s consumers are super-aware, and others are abysmally unaware.

iTweetMeat: And there are scads of “experts” on food circulating who may be thought of as “today’s consumer”

iTweetMeat: Is my rambling making sense? I think many have a little “gourmet” in them. Yet, fewer have practical foodsafe know how IMO

iTweetMeat: I’m just thrilled there is so much interest in food! Shows ppl really value it.

celestelaurent: Makes sense to me lol For Q5: Why don’t you share some food safety misconceptions you’ve encountered via SM

iTweetMeat: Q5 – I’m not sure where to start. The grassfed issue is of course a biggie.

iTweetMeat: The concept that, in a recall, the total lbs. of recalled meat is *not* all contaminated. Just takes 1 bug per lot.

iTweetMeat: IMO, scariest info I’ve seen r from people touting rare grassfed ground beef, the accolades of raw milk, all w/o addressing risk

iTweetMeat: So what else we got? Must catch a plane for #NCBA10 in a little bit!

celestelaurent: We’ll move on to our next moderated question: Q6 Tell us about #meatcamp What is it, how did it start, etc…

iTweetMeat: Q6 Ah, #meatcamp. I wanted to do a meat chat, and so did my new friend @CarrieOliver. We put our heads together and there we go.

iTweetMeat: #meatcamp We can contribute very different ideas and info abt meat. So great to see so much interest in meat as well.

iTweetMeat: Now we have #meatcamp Thurs 8pET; topics vary, often at the request of “followers.” Thus far topics have been very basic.

iTweetMeat: The simpler the broader-reaching. It gets people talking about beef, pork. About how sausage is made. To appreciate meat as well.

celestelaurent: Is most of #meatcamp -ers ag or consumer? We’ll tie in q from @nel1jack :How do u tell who is farmer/producer & who is consumer?

carrieoliver: @iTweetMeat lol how is teaching ppl beef is like wine, diff’t breeds, diets, region etc = diff’t flavor/textures basic? #meatcamp

iTweetMeat: Yes, the tricky question. I can only tell by bios. Wht I am noticing is how people define “ag” difftly

iTweetMeat: I think of “ag” as a food/fiber producer. Others address “ag” as a certain scale/scop of production. It’s tough

celestelaurent: Using last 10 min to squeeze in our last 2 audience q’s: from @JMJLaurent Should we teach SM as part of our 4-H/FFA projects?

iTweetMeat: I think so … just like we teach public speaking now. It’s an important comm tool that won’t go away soon!

iTweetMeat: It’s new enough that quite possibly SM strategies/audiences could be a project in itself?

celestelaurent: Our final audience question is from @NEFarmBureau “What cut of meat does @itweetmeat‘s family enjoy most often?”

iTweetMeat: LOL. Most often? Well right now it’s #pork b/c that’s what I’ve got in the freezer. I’m low on beef and lamb.

iTweetMeat: I like having the “whole animal” in the freezer — that way there’s always something different from yesterday to cook ;)

celestelaurent: I think my mom has the same approach lol That does it for the moderated q’s. Anything you’d like to say in closing @iTweetMeat ?

iTweetMeat: Well thanks for asking me to do this! I have to run a few errands, then off to San Antonio I go! #NCBA10

iTweetMeat: Really the flurries this morning make Hill Country seem really nice!

celestelaurent: I want to thank @iTweetMeat for joining me on short notice & fitting this in before heading to #NCBA10 He’s a great #agvocate !

iTweetMeat: Thanks all! Bye!

celestelaurent: Next week you’ll have usual host @n_web back for more ag convo. Both he and I will post transcript from today’s chat on our blogs

celestelaurent: Safe travels @iTweetMeat ! Don’t have too much fun at #NCBA10 lol 

celestelaurent: I also want to thank all the audience members who were involved today. Lots of great q’s/discussion made for great convo!

n_web: Big thanks to @celestelaurent and @iTweetMeat for participating in #onthefarm today. Looked like a great chat! I’ll be back next week.


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