America's Greatest Shrine to Pseudoscience
Feb 27, 2014
Here's what we like to call a first-world problem. Do we go to a traditional grocery store for our food, or do we go to the one that offers only the best organic, natural and ridiculously over-priced varieties? But there's more lurking on the shelves at Whole Foods than just expensive vegetables and hard-to-find fruits. As Michael Schulson writes in The Daily Beast, there's a lot of "quasi-religious snake oil" at Whole Foods, too. Schulson says "a significant portion of what Whole Foods sells is based on simple pseudoscience. And sometimes that can spill over into outright anti-science (Whole Foods' overblown GMO campaign, which could merit its own article)."
Change Our Eating Habits? Fuhgidabowdit
When the feds tell food companies to overhaul food labels its big news, and those new labels could have a dramatic effect on what Americans eat and help reduce obesity. Only they won't. Sure, there's some common sense in this label redo, such as the updates to serving sizes which make calorie counting easier. But like any government project, implementation is never easy. There's the 90-day comment period, then if approved, companies will have about two years to comply with the changes – at an estimated cost of $2 billion. Once all that's done, the feds expect consumers to change their eating habits. We're not buying it. If you like Twinkies, for instance, we suspect you'll still eat Twinkies regardless of what the label says. Read the labels? Fuhgidabowdit.
Farmers are Old. So What?
Each census of farmers throws out the same red flag – as a group, they're getting older. But Carl Zulauf, a professor at Ohio State University's College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, says we should stop freaking out about aging farmers. He conducted his own study and found farmers are getting older, but not at a greater rate than the rest of the American labor force. Further, he says, farmers have been older than everyone else since the 1980s. Then, he throws out a tidbit of common sense, mostly overlooked by the economists who have tried to scare us with their aging data, which is the fact that the recent trend shows more young farmers entering the business. Why? Profits and the recent prosperity of agriculture. "You have to realize that the longer you have above average returns, the more likely you are to pull people in," says Zulauf.
Riding the Next Wave of On-Farm Technology
The next big farming innovations might not even come from the ag industry. Instead, they may come from medical advancements or smartphone innovations, says Lowell Catlett, New Mexico State University economist and futurist. Some are not even of this earth, he adds.