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America is a land of opportunity—and choices

America is a land of opportunity—and choices

By Layne Chapman

I have been blessed with the greatest of all opportunities as I get to wake up every morning as an American farmer. I grow food, engage in capitalism and live the American dream to the greatest degree. I was made in America and take great pride in producing American products that are safer and consistently better than other country’s products.

An ongoing debate almost everywhere I look, however, is the actual quality of our nation’s food and products. I maintain Americans have the most affordable and safest food in the world. The manner in which our food and fiber is produced is so technologically advanced that many foreign countries cannot comprehend the science.

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Consumers misled? Naturally!

Consumers misled? Naturally!

By Gene Hall

In poring over some public opinion and consumer research recently, I concluded that food-buying Americans really love “natural” things.  Organic?  Sure, but not overpowering.  Conventional? You have to explain what that means.

The clear preference for natural is a bit unnerving. That’s because in the world of marketing and food labels, natural means—not much. Several government bodies have tried to develop a standard for it and punted. All such efforts ended in failure. Now organic is different. There are standards and a certification program. Most people who want a so-called natural diet can accomplish that by buying organic, though they should be prepared to spend more.

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Farmers get no respect in Chipotle’s latest round of marketing

Farmers get no respect in Chipotle’s latest round of marketing

By Chuck Jolley

Health claims as marketing tools made by food marketers are like health claims made by over-the-counter vitamin supplements. Both are usually cleverly worded but empty promises that don’t do anything other than make a few people feel better about themselves.  Marketing phrases like All Natural or Organic on a label or an ad almost always mean less than the paper they’re printed on.  They’re often claims that live in “A World of Pure Imagination.”

To prove my point, let’s compare quarter pounders with cheese from two different vendors.

Chuck Jolley Chart

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City fresh is the key to success for Springdale Farm

City fresh is the key to success for Springdale Farm

By Mike Barnett

City fresh.

That’s the idea behind Springdale Farm, a five-acre agricultural oasis in the heart of Austin.

Owners Glenn and Paula Foore have planted seeds to support a growing local food movement in the deep, rich soils of the Colorado River bottoms, located in an East Austin neighborhood just three miles from the State Capitol. Landscapers by trade, the Foores started growing food in 2009 when the local economy turned south.

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Fearless agriculture predictions for 2013

Fearless agriculture predictions for 2013

By Mike Barnett

Whew, I’m glad 2012 is over. Elections, drought, bickering in Washington, no farm bill. 2013 has to be better. Doesn’t it? Here are my fearless agriculture predictions for 2013.

January: Voters push Congress over a physical cliff because we’re just tired of it all.

February: Rains bring widespread smiles to farmers and ranchers across the Lone Star State.

March: Voters respond favorably to initiative in Midwest that requires Humane Society of the United States to spend 90 percent of their funds taking care of homeless animals.

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