Wednesday, July 30, 2014

SCHLAGECK: How to handle news on food

By JOHN SCHLAGECK, Kansas Farm Bureau | 7/19/2013

Seems like not a day goes by without a media story on our country’s food supply. Some folks have concluded that the best plate may be an empty plate. How else are they going to avoid killer popcorn, monster tomatoes, drug-treated cattle, radioactive chicken or toenail hotdogs?

Some would argue we do not need GMOs. Others would say keep all antibiotics out of livestock. A few would even argue we have too much food and this is what has led to this nation’s obesity problem.

Seems like not a day goes by without a media story on our country’s food supply. Some folks have concluded that the best plate may be an empty plate. How else are they going to avoid killer popcorn, monster tomatoes, drug-treated cattle, radioactive chicken or toenail hotdogs?

Some would argue we do not need GMOs. Others would say keep all antibiotics out of livestock. A few would even argue we have too much food and this is what has led to this nation’s obesity problem.

If you are overwhelmed by news reports that question the safety of your food, you’re not alone. What can we do?

To begin with, exercise common sense.

Overconsumption and obesity are indeed health hazards, but generally speaking food scientists do not believe specific foods are health villains.

Most of us depend on advanced agricultural practices and food technology to give us an abundant, safe, reliable and affordable food supply. As the world’s population continues to increase, U.S. farmers and ranchers need to continue to find new ways to produce more food, more efficiently. Much of the world continues to face food shortages that our country can address.

Why shouldn’t we have access to delicious fruits and vegetables all year round, especially when the increased intake of such food items has been scientifically proven to be healthy and reduce the risk of disease?

Technology critics have been around since the first caveman rounded off the square edges of a stone block and chiseled out the first wheel. People fought the coming of steam locomotives and buggy makers cried out against the coming of the Model T.

Food irradiation and bioengineered foods can be summarized in one word — progress.

Food safety has always been an emotional issue. Reactions to some of these food scares confirm the adage that a rumor can travel half way around the world before the truth pulls on its boots.

Too often today, most news translates to bad news. The prospect of sensationalism is often irresistible and easier than digging a bit deeper and finding the truth.

If more scientists stepped forward to correct this misinformation we would all be better off.

Until that occurs, be wary of food scares. On the other hand, don’t forget to eat and drink from our food supply brought to you by this nation’s farmers and ranchers. It remains the safest, best tasting in the world.

John Schlageck is a Farm Bureau commentator, specializing in agriculture and rural Kansas.

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