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What to believe these days

What to believe these days

By Gary Joiner

Don’t confuse public opinion with public understanding.

This is especially evident when it comes to food and science.

Recent polls show that 80 percent or more of consumers support labeling GMOs. It’s likely most know little about the issue.

Case in point. A survey conducted in January on food preferences by Jayson Lusk of Oklahoma State University asked more than 1,000 Americans about an absurd hypothetical policy mandating labels for foods containing DNA. Eighty percent supported the idea, he said.

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Grilling beef in the Land of Oz

Grilling beef in the Land of Oz

By Gary Joiner

Television viewers were once again taken to the Land of Oz.

But this time the yellow brick road led to a place where misinformation spewed about U.S. beef production. Behind the curtain was Dr. Mehmet Oz, a surgeon and host of the syndicated program, the Dr. Oz Show.

The episode explored grass-fed vs. grain-fed beef. It suggested that grass-fed beef is healthier because of the way the animals are raised. Conventional production practices were largely criticized throughout the show.

No surprise here. The great Oz often denounces how conventional food is raised.

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Vegan dogs? Anti-meaters are trying too hard!

Vegan dogs? Anti-meaters are trying too hard!

By Gene Hall

I love sports—most of them anyway. I’m into everything about the culture of football, baseball and most other events that call for the athletic manipulation of a ball. And I especially like the food. The ginormous pretzels, peanuts, popcorn, crackerjack and various beverages of choice. Corny dogs, hot dogs and vegan dogs. The smells are intoxicating. No wait, what? “Vegan dogs?” Someone is pulling our leg! Sadly, no. An $8 vegan dog was at the Super Bowl, and was labeled that mega event’s most hated snack. No long lines there. No sir.

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Kicking off Sunday with agriculture

Kicking off Sunday with agriculture

By Gary Joiner

The biggest game of the year is just days away. About 115 million folks—myself included—will turn on the TV for Super Bowl 50.

The Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos will battle it out on the field.

But Texas chicken growers will be among the big winners Sunday. Because the food of choice for many is chicken wings. And a lot of them. More than 1.6 billion chicken wing portions will fly through the fingers of football fans across the country. That’s about 14 wings per viewer.

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In agriculture, labels matter—until they don’t

In agriculture, labels matter—until they don’t

By Gene Hall

In my more cynical moments, I suspect that the great confusion and controversy surrounding agriculture today is on purpose.

In this mindset, I can easily conclude that those organizations that survive by demonizing modern agriculture manipulate the language and the labels to suit their own purposes. In this way, passions are inflamed. Money is raised. A public is misled. Calling you “Big Ag” could mean “Big Bucks” for me even though all I’ve contributed to the debate are a couple of politically charged words.

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Cage-free eggs not all they’re cracked up to be

Cage-free eggs not all they’re cracked up to be

By Mike Barnett

Cage-free eggs. Sounds good. But is it really better for the chickens that lay them?

Maybe if you believe in live free and die hard.

Cage-free eggs are the new rage. Driven by consumer perception that cage-free chickens are happier and healthier, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Costco and, most recently, Panera Bread will require suppliers to go cage-free over the next decade.

That leaves the egg industry—worth $10 billion a year—struggling to figure out how to shift from confined hen laying to cage-free.

It’s not as simple as turning chickens loose. Cage-free doesn’t mean problem-free.

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