I should know better, by now you would think stuff like this wouldn’t get to me. Well, I was wrong. Last week I noticed a couple of my friends had posted a link to an article on Facebook. The article was titled “14 Foods You Should Never Eat”. I knew it would get my hackles up, but I read it anyway. No matter how mad misinformation makes me, it is important to know what is being said.
Most of the misinformation in this article came from the same tired, unsubstantiated rumors and falsehoods put forward by anti-agriculture groups and hacks interested in selling books and making TV appearances. Strong language, yes, but if you mislead the public and cause hysteria, you should be put in your place. So what were some of these myths that set me off?
One of the” things we should all know” is how dangerous nonorganic strawberries are. Robert Kenner, director of Food Inc. (and don’t even get me started on that piece of fiction), cited seeing workers in haz mat suits spraying strawberries as the reason to go organic. He also referred to analysis preformed by the Environmental Working Group (another anti-ag group with agendas), stating that 13 different pesticides had been found on nonorganic strawberries.
First, let me say that recently I had an opportunity to visit several strawberry farms, one organic and three nonorganic. I would feed my family strawberries from any of these farms. The growing of strawberries is a highly regulated business (the nonorganic producers are more regulated than organic producers) and I assure you all withdrawal times are adhered to, nonorganic strawberries are just as healthy and safe to eat as organic strawberries. The berries you buy in the grocery store are safe if you do one simple thing and that goes for organic or nonorganic. Wash them thoroughly before you eat them, period.
The next “thing we should know about our food” was that today’s wheat was different from wheat in the past. That is complete rubbish. The article quoted Dr. William Davis, the author of the “Wheat Belly” (another “expert hawking another book). He said that wheat had been genetically manipulated and was nothing like the wheat from the 60’s and 70’s. In his “expert” opinion he stated that you could not change wheat and not have an effect on the people who consume it.
Yes, wheat yields have improved significantly in the past 40 and 50 years and that is a good thing. We are facing an ever growing world population and we must increase our production to stave of starvation for millions and millions of people. We achieve these increases in production through selective breeding programs, crossing certain lines of wheat with other lines of wheat. This allows us to select for hardier wheat, wheat with more protein and other desirable characteristics. However, at the end of the day, it is still wheat and you are consuming wheat identical to wheat consumed in the 60’s and 70’s.
The final “thing we should know about our food” that I am going to address is that industrial produced hamburgers are dangerous. For this little nugget the article quoted Michael Pollan, the author of several misleading and alarmist books (again which have made him very wealthy). Mr. Pollan said that cattle are raised in filthy conditions, pumped full of growth hormones and fed genetically modified grains. Therefore they have to be dangerous and grass-fed beef is healthier and safer.
Again, this is complete rubbish and misinformation. There is absolutely no credible research that genetically modified crops (and that is another one of the points I would like to address but can’t because I don’t have space) cause any health concerns either now or in the future. The beef you consume is raised in modern facilities utilizing the best in modern animal husbandry practices. The growth promotants they are given are tested and approved, given in proper dosages and withdrawal times are strictly adhered to. The beef you buy in the store is just as safe as the grass-fed beef Mr. Pollan was promoting. I will note that all beef and all meat must be handled, prepared and cooked properly to insure safety.
Yes, this article did make me mad. The “experts” they quoted were the same ones often seen making the rounds on talk shows causing hysteria, spreading myths and making money. We must make sure we are vigilant in standing up to these quacks and debunking the misinformation they are spreading. We all know we produce the safest, most wholesome food in the world, but it is also our job to make sure everyone else knows it too.