This week I had the honor to participate in a panel discussion sponsored by the Independent Women’s Forum, the Global Health Center, and Monsanto. The panel, titled “Food and Fear: How to Find Facts in Today’s Culture of Alarmism,” was held at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. As you might imagine from the title of the event, we discussed the fear-based food marketing tactics that have become ever so prevalent these days.
This topic of food and fear is particularly close to home and one of the reasons I was so eager to participate in the event. In fact, one of the reasons I started writing about farming and agriculture was this very type of marketing. When I graduated law school, the so-called “pink slime” controversy was just started to heat up. I saw a rise on social media of people warning others not only of the dangers of meat additives, but also about all aspects of our food system. The message was quite clear: the food we were eating had been tampered with, it was hurting us, and people needed to make better choices at the grocery store. Unfortunately, these better choices usually meant purchasing food with a particular label, particularly USDA certified organic. As my social media friends heralded, this was the only way to make sure our food was produced safely and would not make us sick.
But as a farmer’s daughter, even one that had just spent three years away from the farm at law school, I knew this message was false.
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[This article was originally published on AGDAILY as a guest column.]