As temperatures across the Midwest soar into the triple digits with little chance for rain or relief in sight, talking heads have started to blabber on again about how the drought will hit consumer’s wallets. Adding further pain to the heat-induced misery, these armchair economists stoke the fires of already burning financial concerns.
Yelling “fire” in a crowded theater may grab attention and cause alarm, but it is illegal to do so for a reason. Causing panic for the sake of causing panic does not have a public benefit.
A more cynical commentator might note that it does help drive rating and generate revenue. But instead of focusing on the fray, take a look at the facts.
According to a newly released study from National Public Radio’s Planet Money series, Americans today spend less on groceries than they did 30 years ago, nearly a full five percentage points less. Prices have declined across the board with some staple items, such as butter and chicken legs, down by 35 percent. Even a steak costs 30 percent less.
Will a drought impact America’s corn crop this year? Almost certainly. Does this spell dire circumstances that will leave the grocery consuming public taking out loans to feed their family with healthy, safe food? Almost certainly not.
In today’s America, what is truly in jeopardy is a sense of perspective. Banners flash before already stressed eyes on the evening news making dire declarations. Weary from battling real issues all day, these prophets of pain become an echoing chorus of doom drumming away basic sanity. Frantic feelings froth to a frenzy as the spiral of sustained stress with the prognosticators acting like an emotional succubus that feeds on America’s anxieties.
Stay calm. It may be hot outside, but cooler heads can prevail. Calmly, remember that America has the safest, most abundant, most affordable food supply in its history. The percentage of income needed to eat well has dropped to one of, if not the, lowest level in the developed world. Through innovation and hard work, farmers prove, time after time, that they can and will feed America, no matter what challenges they face.
As temperatures rise and an array of fresh, vibrant produce options fills grocery baskets, the Environmental Working Group issued its annual summer scare list with this week. Deemed the “dirty dozen,” EWG again drags out its pseudoscience in the hopes of terrifying consumers, maligning nutritious foods and filling its coffers with donations from a frightened and misinformed public.
Almost any sound, reputable source stresses the incredibly important role that eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables plays in a healthy diet. Instead of promoting this, the EWG joins the ranks of similar charlatans who base fad diets on trendy tidbits. Based more in sound bites than sound science, the misinformation found in the list pushes well-intentioned eaters off track.
This year, ignore the EWG. Frankly, it annoys them more than engaging with them. Instead, consider the facts.
Farmers value food safety for the same reasons consumers do. The food from their farms feeds their families as well as yours. Regular moms and dads with the same concerns, farm families strive to bring a broad variety of safe, nutritious foods to their tables and yours.
True scientists, the kind who hold respected positions in academia or publish in peer reviewed journals, have stepped forward, speaking out against this fear-based, anti-ag propaganda. With prominent professors from University of California at Berkley leading the charge, real food safety experts deem the
EWG list an unscientific hype piece that actually has a detrimental effect on the conversation about food.
So be fearless about food and ditch the dirty dozen’s baseless babble. An open, honest conversation between the people who grow food and the people who buy it is building. Find out more by clicking here.
Have you ever heard about the Corn Farmers Coalition and wondered who actually sees this stuff?
Sure, the ads catch attention from a mile away. Sure, the beaming family farmers, on their real farms, convey powerful, impactful messages about today’s farm. Sure, these ads appear to be something that would draw any normal reader into a short ag literacy lesson. But, where do people actually come into contact with them?
As always, the innovative minds behind the campaign have found new, thoughtfully selected venues that reach those outside of rural America want to find their information- where they already are.
This week, the campaign launched its fourth year with fresh faces and facts both in traditional venues, such as the DC Metro, and in other places that pack a punch, like the online version of the Washington Post. The award-winning informational series has, yet again, even more finely honed its choice of channel to include the online news sites that, according to the papers themselves, have greatly impacted how Americans consume news content.
Like the stories covered by journalists, the Corn Farmers Coalition paints a clear picture of farming, an industry with which 98.5 percent of the population has little or no contact. Like the feature stories, it provides answers to the questions most prevalent in readers’ minds. Like the hard-hitting exposes, it shows the truth, unbiased and in all of its glory.
Online parodies have long poked fun at the self-righteous rantings of the food elite. Now, a scientific study proves what many with foodie friends have long known. Eating organic can actually turn you into a jerk.
In all seriousness, the study, published in the Journal of Social Psychological & Personality Science, found that exposure to organic foods can “harshen moral judgments.”
Why doesn’t the earth-loving, nurturing persona used to market these foods encourage their target market to act in kind? Because, to no small extent, the feeling of superiority and wholesomeness conferred by their dietary choices leads to self-congratulatory self-righteousness. Taking the old saying “you are what you eat” to heart, organic devotees look down from their pesticide-free pedestal on those who have not committed to living a similar lifestyle.
What moral quandaries do those who partake in the halo effect ignore?
For many Americans, organics simply are not an option. The price premium placed on these products may seem small to the Whole Foods set, but the majority of ordinary folks in line at the local Aldi’s call the place “Whole Paycheck” for a reason. An average family, already coping with the remnants of a recession and ever climbing prices at the pump, already makes hard choices about what must be foregone just to get by. Paying extra for foods that are nutritionally identical makes little sense to the common shopper who still has common sense.
Moreover, these supposedly earth-loving ecovores show little concern for the planets other inhabitants. The world population will grow to more than nine billion people by 2050. To keep up with that growth, more food will have to be produced over the next 50 years than has been during the past 10,000 years combined. Given that this must be done using finite resources, biotechnology, and other un-trendy technology, provide the yield increases and input decreases necessary to feed these new humans. Promoting starvation might seem harsh, but turning a blind eye while bashing the tools that might feed the hungry really is not all that different.
Buying organic has become the modern equivalent of purchasing indulgences. U.S. farmers work hard to produce an abundant array of affordable safe, nutritious options for our country’s wide variety of consumers to enjoy. The halo floating over organic-only heads turns out to be a bit tarnished and a tad askew. It is time for the healthier-than-thou crowd to come back down to earth.
Friendly farm family faces will be greeting those who work in and visit the nation’s capitol again this summer.
The Corn Farmers Coalition (CFC) is launching its major advertising campaign by taking over every available ad space at Union Station. The effort will also put prominent facts about family farmers in Capitol Hill publications, radio, frequently used websites, and other Metro locations in June and July.
“Nine of the largest corn crops in U.S. history have been grown in the last decade by family farmers,” said Jay Lynch, a fifth-generation farmer from Humboldt, Iowa whose family is featured in one of the new ads. “Direct outreach by farmers like me is putting a face on today’s family farmers and raising overall awareness with legislators, leaders or governmental agencies from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Department of State, think tanks, lobbyists and environmental groups.”
Corn farmers from 14 states and the National Corn Growers Association are supporting the Corn Farmers Coalition program to introduce a foundation of facts seen as essential to decision making, rather than directly influencing legislation and regulation.
Learn more about the family farmers behind CFC in this short video.
Often, arguments for farming practices that increase productivity are overlooked by those outside of agriculture in the United States. Decades of abundant, affordable options at the market have lulled many into the expectation that farmers will always provide for them in the manner to which they have become accustomed.
Recent data about the graying of agriculture shows exactly why this manner of thinking (or lack thereof) may be a thing of the past in the very near future. Demographic information indicates that, should trends continue, increased productivity not only per acre, but also per farmer, will be necessary to keep the harvest coming.
Farmers are getting older and subsequent generations are not entering the fields in equal numbers, according to data from the Illinois Farm Business Farm Management Association.
What will this mean for the average suburban mom at the local Safeway? It means that she is depending on a smaller number of farmers to grow the crops used for food and feed to ensure that she has the same options, at affordable prices, that her mother had only years earlier.
The population continues to grow. The numbers of young people entering farming do not. The math on this one is pretty simple.
What can we as a society do to help reverse this trend? Actually, a few things that could be easily accomplished if the collective will existed could have a positive impact in a relatively short period.
As a society, we must learn to value the people who grow our food. Think about it. How many people want to enter a profession that they grow up hearing either negative perceptions of or forecasts for an overregulated, under-appreciated tomorrow? Farmers’ children, those most likely to continue the tradition, already understand that they have to sacrifice easy access to some of the more urban amenities we take for granted. They hear about the problems facing the industry every night at dinner. Add in sensationalized pseudo-journalist’s exposes, and it becomes difficult to fault them for failing to return after college.
Think very carefully about the implications of legislation before throwing our backing behind it. When it comes down to it, although many often forget, our representatives in Washington are just that- our representatives. As a class totally reliant upon public support to survive, public discourse around issues that impact farming is vital. Next time someone begins randomly spouting off supposed facts about the farm bill, ethanol, environmental regulations, and so on, ask for proof. Ask how this affects the people who you depend upon to grow your dinner. There is a bigger picture. The 98.5 percent of people who have the ability to live off of the farm depend upon the 1.5 percent to sustain them. Thus, it only follows that the majority should recognize how unfair and punitive legislation impacting farmers impacts everyone in the end.
Support the people, institutions and industry that, day in and day out, ensure Americans continue to have the safest, most stable food supply in history. Farmers use incredible, innovative technology and methods to grow food as well as their ability to produce. Instead of overlooking the miraculous accomplishments of the past decades, during which U.S. farmers increased yields at a break-neck pace while decreasing the inputs used to do so, appreciate the modern marvels in ag.
Farmers, and their work, benefit the country as a whole. If they age without replacement, the country loses not only a wealth of knowledge, but also the individuals with the skillset and determination to keep our farms up, running and on course to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
Farmers are always getting asked these days to get involved; write a letter, call your Congressman, but how about eat a pizza? Now activation by the slice is something I think we can sink our teeth into and all wrap our minds around.
With many corporate players caving in to environmental whackos and misinformed consumer groups it is refreshing to see a major player in the restaurant industry like Dominos Pizza tell The Humane Society of the United States to “hold that thought” when they asked them to require pork suppliers to stop housing sows in gestation stalls.
When HSUS asked stockholders to bow down before their warm fuzzy image and the millions in lobbying and PR dollars they wield, Dominos shareholders rejected the resolution. A Domino’s spokesperson explained that the company relies on animal experts to determine the best way to raise an animal that’s used for food.
Ok, now it is time for full disclosure on my personal bias. Unlike HSUS – that hides behind their false image as the savior of puppies and kitties, while giving a pittance to actual animal shelters. When I was in college I have to admit to having a real gastronomic romance with Domino’s Pizza. The food was inexpensive which is critical to a student on a budget and they delivered faster than any other food establishment. Also, an important factor for those who get a random hunger for pizza late at night.
I still have that pizza problem today…love it, eat it weekly and still a fan of Dominos. I can openly live with this “pizza problem.”
One has to wonder how HSUS employees sleep at night knowing full well that they are spending their vast resources to drive a vegetarian agenda and hides a lifestyle choice as a moral cause. And they do so while constantly misrepresenting themselves to the general public.
Thankfully many people are taking note of the online “Farmers Paying It Forward with Pizza” campaign that was the brainchild of Clarence, Missouri pork producer and Ag blogger Chris Chinn.
The Brownfield Network became the most recent public entity to take note of Dominos act of corporate heroism. A logical decision really, but heroic none-the-less given the lack of spine and sense of right that seems to have invaded much of corporate America.
So, thanks to Chris, Brownfield and many others for bringing this into the light of day and challenging us all to show support of Dominos. And for the record I like my activism with parmesan sprinkled on top.
In coverage of the recent “occupation” of agricultural research land at the University of California- Berkley, one essential point was striking in its absence. While a public university, the land these so-called activists forcibly took over is, in fact, private property. Their actions in doing so showed complete disregard for the principles upon which our nation was founded, for the well-being of the institution’s students and for the rapidly growing world population whose food security depends upon the products of agricultural research.
Clinging to worn-out rhetoric shrouded in a mindless, trendy façade, these protesters stand against a fundamental principle upon which the nation is based. The ownership of private property has been held as a fundamental value of American society since the revolution. The nation’s forefathers enshrined it in the Constitution, and, in doing so, created a country to which many have fled in order to gain this protection. Placing their judgment above that of the university governing board, state government and of the people which those legislators represent, this fringe group forcibly chose to repurpose land to suit its own agenda.
What did the people who support this university lose?
They lost a valuable asset that provided the university with an outdoor laboratory. Agricultural research often culminates in necessary field trials that allow scientists to test how new varieties or products will react in circumstances similar to those in which they may ultimately grow. This land was not a common area without a stated purpose. These protestors stole a valuable resource.
They lost the valuable time. Right now, the future food security of the world depends upon agricultural research. In next 40 years, farmers will need to produce more food than was produced in the last 10,000 years combined to ensure the food supply keeps up with population growth. In light of this challenge, taking fields used for research into the products which will make this possible is tantamount to taking food from the mouths of those who will need it within our lifetime.
Actions have real consequences. The “Occupy the Farm” movement has shown how disregard for the basic ground rules governing our society, no matter how supposedly well-intentioned, results in real harm. Their lack of foresight and careful scrutiny of the possibly consequences of their actions shows the irresponsibility inherent in policies they espouse.
The Environmental Working Group loves to call the National Corn Growers Association the “corn lobby.” Likewise, when it stands up against crop protection companies, it’s the dreaded “pesticide lobby.” When it comes to plastics, there’s the “BPA lobby.” There is also the “highway lobby,” the “farm lobby” and even the “arsenic wood lobby.” These terms are not meant as compliments. To the EWG and its allies, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution does not apply to those who disagree with them.
And yet, in their inconsistent little world, it’s perfectly OK for EWG to lobby. An article in The Hill, a prominent Washington newspaper and website, talks about how EWG has hired “top K Street lobbyists” to do battle on the farm bill. On Twitter, EWG President Ken Cook even bragged about it.
The Hill puts it rather succinctly: “EWG is no slouch when it comes to lobbying.” We don’t begrudge them their right to lobby, or even to contract with a powerful millionaire lobbyist firm for that matter. But we do think they should think twice before attacking someone else as a lobbyist. There’s got to be another word, and the English language provides so many other options.