Tuesday 02nd of September 2014

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  • The 10 Reasons They Hate You

    Why can't we all just get along? Mike Smith sifts through the new-age philosophy behind today’s resentment toward Big Farming. Read full story.

  • Thou Shalt Not Kill (Animals)?

    Is this a blanket condemnation of food-animal production? Read full story.

  • The Horror Show that Won't Die

    Food Inc. follows in the footsteps of other modern campy horror flicks: Splashy, escapist and horrifying for all the wrong reasons. Read the full story.

  • Earth is Great; Earth is Good. Let us Thank Her for our Food

    Here’s why the faithful should shun the Church of the Divine Palate. Read the full story.

  • The New Food Puritans

    Why moralizing about food choices has replaced moralizing about sexual choices: A Truth in Food conversation with author Mary Eberstadt. Listen to the interview.

  • Where Have You Gone, Moral Champion?

    Our food chain turns its lonely eyes to HSUS. Here’s why agriculture must reclaim its moral birthright, starting now. Read the full story.

  • Give Me My Butterfinger, or Give Me Death?

    Will conceding government's role in telling food retailers how to market and sell junkfood put us on a slippery slope to freedom lost? Read the full story.

Action Alert: An Open Letter to Hyatt Regency and Truth in Food Readers Print E-mail
Written by Kevin Murphy   

Hyatt may want to Thoughtfully ReconsiderOn Aug. 2, I shared with you my personal experience of having been exposed to the Hyatt Regency’s Food Thoughtfully Sourced and Carefully Served campaign. I contended Hyatt Regency’s marketing efforts were highly flawed and downright dishonest. Here's how Susan Santiago, vice president of food and beverage for the global hotel and resort chain, answered my inquiry:

Has Hyatt Simply Dressed Up Chipotle's Message with White Tablecloths? Print E-mail
Written by Kevin Murphy   

Is Food Thoughtfully Sourced an extension of Food With Integrity?

Thoughtless food need not applyThis year the American Dairy Science Association and American Society of Animal Scientists added a unique component to their joint meeting, one that has been sorely lacking from past agendas and one ASAS President James Sartin and ADSA President Ken McGuffey labeled a “new and emerging topic:” bioethics -- the field of study concerned with ethical behavior within our life sciences.

Click here to add your name to the list of those urging Hyatt to Thoughtfully Reconsider its marketing campaign.

For several years now I have been warning the agricultural community of the swift and unfettered advancement of the Food Morality Movement. This movement condemns agriculture and challenges it to explain its behavior based on the grounds of religion, ethics and morality.

Richard Reynnells, former national program lead for the United States Department of Agriculture, extended a kind invitation to have me speak at the 2013 meeting after reading Where Have You Gone Moral Champion? a story exposing the weakness of agriculture’s over-reliance on science alone as a defense to a moral inquiry.

That Glowing Dodge Ram “God Made a Farmer” SuperBowl Commercial? A Miserable Failure Print E-mail
Written by Mike Smith   

It must be a flop. It breaks all the ‘agvocacy’ rules

Just hold your Hemi-gunning horses here. Everyone in the agritwitter is in love--and I mean love--this morning over Dodge’s appropriation of Paul Harvey’s 1978 “God Made a Farmer” speech for its blood-pounding SuperBowl spot. Sure, it’s a nice speech, well-delivered and all. But it can’t possibly be effective. No way it can support modern agriculture. It must fail, for it simply violates too many of the rules we’ve been taught.

• It made no mention of the growing planetary population, more demanding consumers, green revolutionaries or 9 billion people to feed by 2050.

• It completely failed to wedge in any mention of improved efficiency, responsible innovation, best practices, enhanced production transparency or productive resource allocation.

• It did nothing to highlight U.S. agriculture’s continual commitment to producing safe, nutritious and affordable food in a responsible manner that best incorporates the highest measurements of animal welfare and employee protection.

• Temple Grandin? Nowhere to be found.

• It missed the chance to talk up the high standards beef producers use to produce beef, to educate consumers about what would happen without a poultry industry, or to deliver a positive pork industry message of continual quality improvement.

• It absolutely fizzled in procuring social license to produce, protecting the producer’s freedom to operate, illuminating shared societal values, embracing foundational trust-building, connecting on intra-system commonalities, or fostering open and productive relationships.

• It didn’t even try to incorporate sound science to counter the misinformation about modern agriculture passed off as fact.

• It shut out the many voices now conversing about food and farming. It didn’t invite critics to the big table to engage in dialogue. It failed in the mission to educate and inform consumers to feel comfortable in whatever food choice they wish to make, incorporating food grown, processed and sold in a variety of systems.

• It wasn’t brought to you by your Beef Checkoff, paid for by Americas dairy farmers, funded by your Corn Checkoff investments, supported by the nation’s Pork Producers, brought to you in cooperation with McDonalds or fully endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States.

• It paid no mind to the fact farmers deserve choice, just as food buyers deserve choice. It lent no invitation to sit down together and make common cause.

• Food dialogues with critics? No mention. Meaningful two-way conversation? Wasn’t having any of it.

• It shrugged off stewardship, environmental sustainability, food integrity, Supermarket Gurus, self-owned narratives, interpersonal trust-enhancement techniques, consumer expectations, clear and consistent high standards set by each farm and its workers, and natural distinctions between farmers and the act of farming.

• It couldn’t even take 3 seconds to remind 155 people that one farmer feeds them.

• Proactive? Hell, the thing’s going on 35 years old.

Nice try, there, Dodge. I’ll give you a few sepic soundbites there. Sure, you pulled off a nostalgic line or two that may catch the hearts of some of us farm-country expatriates unguarded. But when it comes to carefully, responsibly, seriously crafting the common message platforms and themes that are designed to build consumer trust and confidence in today’s food system, you might want to stand back. We hire professionals who do that sort of thing for us in open and airy downtown lofts at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday mornings. Thanks for the brief attention, but agvocacy’s professional communicators have it covered.

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You Can't Make this Story Up...Media Will Do It Print E-mail
Written by Kevin Murphy   

Hormones in food and early puberty in boys...the told un-story

Photo courtesy Flickr/Il Bruco Photography

File this one under "You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up."

Numerous media outlets on Sunday picked up news of a study published Saturday by the venerable medical journal Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics' official journal. It reported U.S. boys appear to be maturing on average 6 months to 2 years earlier than commonly used norms. Analyzing the appearance of secondary sexual characteristics and testicular enlargement among more than 4,000 boys at their well-child pediatric visits, the research team concluded male maturity is mimicking the pattern reported by other studies for U.S. girls. The potential underlying cause of that accelerating maturity warrants, and I quote, "further exploration."

And since further exploration is the job of the news media, many couldn't resist linking the pattern to the modern food system and farming as the source of this societal woe.

Granted, many were measured in doing so, such as the Associated Press, which reported only that, "...theories range from higher levels of obesity to inactivity to chemicals in food and water, all which might interfere with normal hormone production. However, these theories are unproven."

But my favorite--favorite in a sad and wearying sense--is this one, from Digital Journal, headlined "Early puberty in boys may be linked to American food supply." The self-proclaimed "global digital media network with 40,000+ content creators in 200 countries around the world, [reaching] an audience of millions of monthly visitors," claims environmental factors and obesity were identified as possible causes, including "the past...use of hormones in the food supply." As to be expected, that kind of "further exploration" of the issue brought out the loyal conspiracy commentator corps, blaming corporate take-over of food, greedy cattle farmers injecting their cattle with hormones and, naturally, Monsanto.

They all were apparently as oblivious to reading the original Pediatrics study as was Digital Journal author and "digital journalist" Greata McClain. The Pediatrics authors specificially cautioned readers...

  • "This study was designed to report only physical changes, and not hormonal or other changes."
  • “Our data do not allow for an analysis of the possible underlying mechanisms of these observed decreases in the apparent age of onset of secondary sexual characteristics as assessed by physical examination.
  • "Our findings are somewhat surprising," given that some of those very theoretical causes of early puberty in girls are in fact, not associated with the same effect in boys and may, in fact, actually delay puberty in boys.

But the best part of this good and ethical media reporting is its link to the source which McClain chooses to rely upon, rather than reading past the abstract of the Pediatrics study: This one, from Livestrong media, "THE EFFECT OF GROWTH HORMONES IN FOOD."

If that didn't just make your beautiful-irony detector go off, you've been asleep for the past couple of weeks.

Lance Armstrong's foundation gives dietary adviceLivestrong.com, the "definitive destination for those who want to build their own healthy living success story, [which believes] that everyone should feel empowered through food, fitness, and inspiration to pursue their best life [by] eating well...." is, indeed, the same Livestrong Foundation brand developed by cancer survivor, cyclist and seven-time Tour de France world cycling champion Lance Armstrong. Well, make that former seven-time Tour de France world cycling champion, since the International Cycling Union just stripped Armstrong of those titles for running, in the words of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, “the most sophisticated doping program in sports history.”

Nike, Anheuser-Busch, Oakley and other sponsors have begun dumping their support of the Livestrong founder (who, for the record, maintains his innocence, noting he's never failed a drug test) as that 1,000-page ASADA report accuses cancer's comeback kid of not only using himself, but of leaning on other team members to use, a list of banned substances that included...

  • Erythropoietin, a hormone that boosts red-blood cell production and not only risks strokes and heart attack but, FDA warns, can increase the risk of cancer recurring in patients.
  • Cortisone and other corticosteroids, hormones whose abuse are linked to cancer, including the testicular brand that struck Armstrong.
  • Testosterone, a hormone, the over-use of which is also linked to cancer and which contributes to the beginning of puberty in young boys.

You can't make this stuff up.

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