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No More "Food Bullies"

Michelle Payn book

No More "Food Bullies"

Armed with science, compelling personal stories and a lifetime on the farm, Michele Payn challenges the way we think about the choices we make about food.

Bullying takes many insidious forms, some overt and others far more covert—like food bullying.

“Food has become a battleground where spurious marketing labels and misinformation are used to cajole, manipulate, even shame consumers about their eating choices,” Michele Payn wrote in her third book, “Food Bullying: How to Avoid Buying B.S.” The book, which received the gold medal in the health, medicine and nutrition category of the Independent Publisher Book Awards, or IPPYs, examines the complicated relationship humans develop with food.

“I believe deeply in choice, especially when it comes to food,” Payn said. “I wrote ‘Food Bullying’ to help people first become aware of the subtle, sophisticated, often devious ways they are manipulated and then to develop strategies for making guiltfree food choices based on their own ethical, environmental and health standards.”

“Because of frequent visits to the beautiful MSU campus for 4-H and National FFA Organization events, there was never any doubt where I would go to college.”

Payn points out that marketing claims on food items, such as “ethically raised,” “all natural” or “farm raised,” are not measurable by Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture or Environmental Protection Agency standards. She wants to be able to explain why a food is raised more ethically, which she is able to do on her small dairy farm in central Indiana.

A deep interest in knowing how her food got to her, guided her life and career choices. She grew up on a farm outside Jonesville, Michigan, and has been immersed in agriculture ever since. There was no doubt she would end up studying agriculture at MSU, she said. Her business, Cause Matters, connects people and the science of food and farming. She founded it in 2001 and educates people through webinars, virtual training and a podcast.

One of the most significant parts of her work is creating a dialogue among agricultural producers, consumers, doctors, dieticians and other key influential experts in the food industry. “Communication among knowledgeable professionals ensures that science-based information becomes the key component of food purchasing decisions—rather than marketing claims or testimonials from organizations with special agendas,” she said.

Payn’s career seems to be a natural extension of her upbringing, and studying agriculture at MSU became a part of that. “Because of frequent visits to the beautiful MSU campus for 4-H and National FFA Organization events, there was never any doubt where I would go to college,” Payn said.

And now, Payn has made it her life’s work to create better relationships with food and nutrition. She hopes to help her audiences do the same, by educating them on food information.

She even launched the “Food Bullying” podcast in 2019. Reaching audiences through written word and spoken, Payn is teaching her followers how to make better food choices. 

Listen to Payn on MSU Today: 


Contributing Writer(s): Kirk Heinze

Spartan Profiles — Fall 2020


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