It all started with a simple question.

We were standing next to the Butterhead Carving Booth in the Dairy Building at the Minnesota State Fair. Monika was gazing, her nose almost pressed into the glass, as Linda Christensen carved a dairy princess's likeness into a block of butter. She was still beaming from meeting Princess Kay of the Milky Way Haley Hinrichs.

Dan and Daphne were finishing the last spoonfuls of their ice cream treats. Glen and I were visiting with a couple of fellow dairy farmers.

There was another family sitting nearby - a mom and dad and two boys - finishing their malts and sundaes. That's when the other mom caught my attention and asked, "What is this place called?"

She was sharing a post on Instagram about how much they liked their treats and wanted to get the name of the Dairy Goodness Bar right.

I told her the name and suggested that she tag Midwest Dairy and the Minnesota State Fair in the photo. She said she had never tagged anyone in a post, so I showed her how. While I was helping her, the older son figured out that we were dairy farmers. The boy, who is about Dan's age and equally talkative, started peppering us with questions about living on a farm. Before long, Dan and the boy were caught up in conversation like long lost friends.

A couple minutes later, our family and theirs were both ready to move onto our next fair destination. They were going to the midway to find the rides. We were going to the poultry barn to see the chickens and rabbits.

"Can we walk together?" the oldest son asked.

The mom and I looked at each other, shrugged a little, and said, "Why not?"

That's how we found ourselves walking down Judson Avenue, trying to keep two families with two strollers together as we wove our way through the crowd of fairgoers.

As we walked, we talked. Dan and the oldest son volleyed between questions about farm life and questions about Pokémon. The mom and I talked about dairy farming and our families. The family of four was visiting the Minnesota State Fair for only the second time, after living abroad for several years and then moving to the Twin Cities a couple years ago.

I think Glen and the other dad were left wondering how on earth this random, instant connection actually just happened.

The conversations continued into the poultry barn. The other family hadn't planned to visit the barns because of one son's asthma, but they decided a short visit into the barn would probably be all right.

So there we were, standing between the chickens and the rabbits, when the real questions started.

"Is skim milk or 1 percent or 2 percent milk better?"

"What do you think about organic versus non-organic?"

"Should I be buying grass-fed beef?"

I did my best to answer those questions and more. I acknowledged that it's hard to sort through all of the recommendations pushed out by television personalities, researchers, bloggers and other media.

"One study says this. Another study says that. How do we know who to believe? We have to spend just as much time identifying the source as we do processing the information," I said.

At one point, the mom apologized for asking so many questions. I told her that I was happy to answer them.

"I just want to know that I'm doing what's right for my kids," the mom said.

Her comment stopped my thoughts for a second. She and I come from completely different backgrounds and now have completely different lifestyles, but in that moment I knew exactly how she felt.

Isn't that what every mom (and dad) wants? The assurance that our choices will have a positive impact on our children's lives.

Dan will soon be 10. I've spent the last decade asking that same question over and over. What's best for my kids? Kids don't come with instruction manuals. There are no parenting education courses or test drives required before you become responsible for another human life. Figuring out what's best for our kids can be both consuming and confusing.

Our families spent a couple more minutes together, petting ducks and chickens. I think her kids were meeting farm animals for the first time in their lives. Then, as quickly as our acquaintance started, we went our separate ways.

I walked away with a refreshed perspective on advocacy.

Sixteen years ago, I sat in that glass booth while my commitment to promoting dairy was carved into a block of butter. That year, the state fair taught me more about advocacy than I had expected. It opened my eyes to the real differences between my own life growing up on a dairy farm and the lives of others with little to no experience in agriculture.

My conversation this year reminded me that our lives might be completely different, but we can almost always find something in common.

References available upon request.

Sadie and her husband, Glen, milk 75 cows near Melrose, Minn. They have three children - Dan, 9, Monika, 7, and Daphne, 3. Sadie also writes a blog at She can be reached at [email protected].