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Monday, February 23, 2015

Upson Lecture Series to Address Big Food

What is Big Food?

Why do some consumers fear Big Food and why do others hate it?

Food For Thought is excited to host Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity, who will address these very questions with his lecture "Size Matters: Why We Love to Hate 'Big Food'" on March 2, 2015 at 7 pm in the K-State Student Union Forum Hall.

The event is free and open to the public and FREE BACON  sponsored by the Kansas Pork Association will be given to the first 200 attendees.

This is a lecture that is sure to ignite feelings and discussion and you won't want to miss it! Please join us in Manhattan on March 2 for a hot-button lecture that will get you thinking!
*The Upson Lecture Series has been fully endowed by the generous support of the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine classes of 1962 and 1966.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Common Food Myths Exposed!

Readers,

Every so often, you hear about the newest diet trend...one year it is Atkins, the next it is the Paleo diet. Or the experts will try to tell you that you need to 'cleanse' and 'detox' to get all of the harmful toxins out of your body.
What Happens in Your Body During a "Cleanse" or "Detox"

We all know that most of these diets, including veganism and vegetarianism, have some purported benefits, and that they also come with sacrifices. Simultaneously, I think that we all know that half of it goes back to someone trying to push an idea or sell a product so that they can make a dollar off of someone else. It's no different than the next clothing trend, designers and fashion-experts going to extremes to make a new look in vogue...it helps them sell more items as consumers have to change their wardrobe to fit in to popular culture. We all participate in it, and we're all victims of these marketing efforts.

So as long as we are on the same page and can be honest with ourselves, I think it is fair to remind everyone of some 'food myths' that many of us believe that have since been disproven. Some of these were quite surprising to me as well! While I'm going to focus on the highlights, feel free to check out the original source at ViralNova.


Myth: Chicken skin is bad for you.
Myth #1: Chicken skin is bad for you
     Seriously though, who hasn't seen someone who peels the delicious skin off a chicken breast because of this myth? I don't, but I inwardly think to myself that I probably shouldn't eat it. In fact, the breading on a piece of chicken soaks up a lot more oil than the skin has itself. We always think chicken skin is bad for us because it is greasy and delicious, but from a nutrient standpoint, over 55% of the fat in chicken skin is the heart-healthy kind: mono-unsaturated fat.
 
Myth: Avoid whole milk.
Myth #2: Avoid whole milk
Well, no one can argue that this is still a very active food myth, judging by the aisles of 1%, 2% and skim milk at the grocery store. The funny thing is, there is peer-reviewed scientific evidence showing that if you drink whole milk, you are at a lower risk for heart disease!
 
                             Myth: Sea salt is healthier than regular salt.
Myth #3: Sea salt is better for you than regular salt
Sodium chloride is the elemental name for table salt. Do you know what the elemental name is for sea salt? Oh yea, it is also sodium chloride! While it may be processed differently, sea salt still contains the same amount of sodium, which everyone is trying to regulate their intake of, despite shaky scientific evidence on that front as well.
Myth: Gluten-free living will benefit everyone.
Myth #4: Gluten-free living will benefit everyone
For the 1 in 133 people who suffer from celiac disease, consuming gluten is not in your best interest. But for everyone else out there, going gluten-free really won't accomplish much from a nutrition standpoint. Check out this review paper on whether non-celiac gluten sensitivity even exists.
 
 
Myth #5: Avoid high-fructose corn syrup like your life depends on it
There has recently been quite a stir about the superiority of table sugar versus high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). While critics point out that it's not a natural form of sugar, the inclusion of HFCS in nearly everything helps keep food prices low and is deemed "safe" by the US Food and Drug Administration. In comparison, table sugar is 50% fructose and 50 percent glucose, so HFCS only contains 10% more fructose than regular sugar.
 
I suppose the big takeaway for me is don't believe everything you hear about one food being the root of all of our country's problems around obesity. If you can't get through the day without drinking six or seven cans of soda, then you are probably getting way too many calories from soda, whether it is sweetened with HFCS or table sugar. Don't be duped simply by clever marketing and sales campaigns to make you pay a premium for a product that may not have any real nutritional benefit.
 
As with most things in life, moderation goes a long way. If you complement a moderate amount of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and sugars with a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise, you're probably going stay relatively fit and healthy.
 
I hope you enjoyed the reading, and this is just the tip of the iceberg! If you want to fact check on some other 'food myths' including MSG, the real nutritional content of potato skins, and whether carrots improve your eyesight, don't forget to check out the details at ViralNova!
 
 
Cheers,
 
Hyatt Frobose
 




Monday, February 9, 2015

Family Physician vs. Veterinarian

People today are more concerned than ever about the quality of their food, where it comes from, and how it’s raised.  The world population is growing, and those people need PROTEIN! 

Animal protein is a very economical and efficient way to meet people’s needs for quality nutrition, and American livestock producers are  better at meeting this rising need than ever before.  One of the tools we as producers have to promote the health of our animals is judicious antibiotic use. 

Judicious.  Webster’s defines this as “having or showing good judgment.” Farmers and ranchers must be extremely careful about what drugs are used, which animals they’re used on, and what they are used to treat.  Not only does it makes good sense and is economical, it’s mandated legally. 

The FDA has set forth guidelines as to the tolerances of drug residue that can be left in an animal when it’s harvested for food.  This means if livestock producers and veterinarians don’t follow the rules, they can be reprimanded, fined, and lose their jobs.  The next time you hear someone talking about all the antibiotics being used in animals, just remember: your family physician has fewer qualms prescribing you an antibiotic than your veterinarian does prescribing antibiotics for animals.

Best,
John Dwyer 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Food Education Starts Early!

Photo credit: Judy Baxter (Creative Commons)
A few months ago I was asked to create a PowerPoint presentation for children.  The subject was to be “Where our food comes from.”  Easy enough, right? 

I thought so too.

As it turns out, the task was far from easy.  I started by opening the PowerPoint program.  I titled the first page “Where our food comes from.”  I was rolling along pretty well, huh?  Then it hit me.  I couldn’t create this presentation. 

It wasn’t the fact that I didn’t know where food comes myself, or that I didn’t know how to tell kids where food comes from.  It was the fact that I didn’t know what these kids knew.  I had no idea what kind of knowledge base children have about where their food comes from.  And if I remember correctly, I got pretty upset when, as a sixth grader, all these adults came in telling me stuff that I had already learned in the third grade.
The gears in my brain started to turn.  I didn’t want to be the adult who upset these kids.  Who will hear this presentation?  Will it be pupils in urban schools?  Or in rural ones?  Will it be kids with a rural background, going to an urban school?  Or will it be kids with an urban background attending a rural school?  What have their parents and teachers already taught them?  How do I address these different audiences?  Who IS my audience at this point?

So I did what any logical PhD student would do at this point.  I researched it!  And I researched it…  And I researched it…  And I found two documents describing children’s knowledge of where their food comes from.  TWO.  Both documents were surveys done in countries other than the United States.  I searched the USDA, the FDA, the US Department of Education, and found no documentation that I could use to help me understand how much children in our country learn about food production.
This was very disappointing to me.  We have consumers raging about wanting to know where their food comes from, but we don’t even teach it in schools.  We’ve got people spending hundreds of dollars more in grocery bills just to have natural and organic products, and they don’t even know the difference between naturally and conventionally-produced food.  And we have people throwing fits about GMOs when they have no clue that their dog is technically a GMO.

As an industry, have to change these things.  And not just within the beef industry.  All agricultural industries will have to be involved. 
We have to teach people how food is produced, so they aren’t afraid of it.  The adult population has been so inundated with misinformation from television, the internet, and other media sources that many will not change their ways.  Children, however, still have open minds about the world.  They are sponges.  They take in all the information they are given, and then use it in the future.

We must provide the correct information for them to utilize in their futures.  We must open their eyes to the fact that food does not just come from the grocery store. We must teach them how their food is grown, processed, and packaged so that they are confident in not only the product they buy, but the way it came to them.  And we must teach ourselves how to do this.
Our jobs are changing.  We do not just feed people in a hungry world anymore.  We inform the world about how we are feeding those people. 

It will start with understanding what to teach and who to teach it to.  Then we will need to devise a strategy as to how to teach it to them.  I propose that we start with children.  We teach them how their food is grown, and even how to grow food themselves.
My 10-year-old nephew lives in a city of 65,000.  He hunts, he fishes, and he’s coming to my family’s farm to spend a summer learning how to drive a tractor, feed cows, and haul hay (among many other things).  He is so excited about it!  He’ll go back and tell his friends, and they’ll be excited about it!  Children get excited about things!  They learn, they do, and they are happy doing it!  We need to use this enthusiasm to help them learn, and to get them involved.  That is our calling as educators, mentors, parents, and contributing members of society—we can make a difference, and we need to make it now!

Cheers,
Tiffany Lee

Monday, January 19, 2015

Super Bowl Commercials

The Super Bowl is less than two weeks away. Crazy how time flies, and there were some crazy games in the playoffs as well. Not going to lie, kind of disappointed that Jordy Nelson doesn't get to play in the Superbowl, but oh well (my K-State bias coming through).

Whether you watch the Super Bowl for the game itself or for the commercials, probably several of you will be watching one of the biggest sporting events of the year. Every year, companies spend millions of dollars for advertising spots during the game. Several of these commercials are the chance for companies to make a big splash on advertising to kick off the new year.

So I got to think about the best Super Bowl commercials, and there was one that came to the top of my list. The Dodge Ram commercial, "So God Made a Farmer." You can watch the ad here.

I remember exactly where I was when this commercial aired. Several of my vet school classmates got together to watch the big game. We were all around visiting about the game, reflecting on life, and having fun. Then the commercial came on the television. Our attention all tuned into the tv, and nobody said a word. You could have heard a pen drop. It was that captivating!

Now this wasn't the first time I have heard this speech given by Paul Harvey before. He gave this speech at a National FFA convention in 1978. Now I wasn't around back then, but other people made me aware of it before because it had that much of an impact on them when they heard it in person. Paul Harvey was a radio icon that I listened to growing up as well. His "News and Comments" and "Rest of the Story" always provided great insight into things. In fact, we always tried to arrange lunch to occur after Paul Harvey's "News and Comments" concluded, so we could listen to it while working in the tractor.

Back to the ad by Dodge now. I tip my cap to the Dodge marketing people for taking the time to use expensive advertising to promote agriculture to the entire country. I could watch this ad over and over (in fact I did and recommend you do as well) to further gain knowledge and appreciation for what all the farmers and ranchers provide for this country. Thank you Dodge!

Now typically I always end my posts with a catchy phrase, "Until next time." Our own Dr. Dan Thomson ends his segments with, "I'll see you down the road." Today, I'll end with a phrase credited to Paul Harvey (and yes I hope you read it in his voice).

Good day!

Miles Theurer

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Bruce Vincent Lecture Now Online!

Bruce Vincent speaking at K-State as part of the Upson Lecture Series
If you weren't able to attend the Upson Lecture Series event featuring Bruce Vincent, which is highly unfortunate, but were still wanting to hear his message, I have great news for you!

The lecture is now available online on the Food For Thought YouTube channel - you can click over there and watch or you can view it below.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this event happen - specifically the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine classes of 1962 and 1966 for fully endowing the Upson Lecture Series. Sincere gratitude is also extended to Frontier Farm Credit and American Ag Credit for their generous role in bringing Bruce to K-State!


Monday, November 24, 2014

Thankful for a Life Around Cattle

Hey FFT Blog readers!  My name is Lindy Bilberry and I’m a new face on the Food for Thought scene.  I am currently a sophomore studying Agribusiness at Kansas State University and grew up around cattle—both in a beef feedlot and on our family’s cow-calf operation.  Growing up, I lived for the mornings that my dad would let me tag along on Saturday mornings to check cattle at the feedlot with him.  A lot of us are probably unfamiliar with what exactly happens in a feedlot, so I am going to share about my experiences in our operation.  Hopefully it helps us all to understand a little bit about how the cattle in the pens eventually become the hamburgers and steaks that we like to see on our plate!


Growing up, spending time around cattle was my way of life.  That’s me in the leopard print jacket with the calf.
One summer in high school, I had the chance to work as a ‘pen rider’ at Circle Feeders in Garden City, Kansas.  Basically, this meant that my job was to get on my horse every morning at 6:00 and ride through pens of cattle, checking to make sure that none were sick.  If we did find an animal that was sick, we would take it out of the pen and to the hospital (yes, we call the barn where sick cattle are treated hospitals) where the employees who are trained in animal health treat the animals for their ailments.  Circle Feeders had a capacity of holding about 13,000 head of cattle.  At that time, I was riding about one-third of the pens and on an average day I would pull maybe four or five cattle out for treatment.


Last summer my dad and I did some work at a feedyard outside of Garden City, Kansas.  This is a picture of what a large-scale beef feedlot looks like.
There is a lot of talk right now about antibiotic use in livestock and the fear that we are ‘drugging up’ animals in order to make them bigger.  I have had the chance to spend time in a lot of feedlots and around a lot of beef producers in my day, and I have never once found this to be the case.  People who are raising cattle, whether it’s in a feedlot, a cow-calf operation, or whatever, ultimately care about the health of their animals.  When I was working at the feedlot, I would pull animals out to send to the ‘hospital’ because I was worried about their well-being.  They weren’t treated with medicine to bulk up or get muscles, but rather to treat an illness.  They’re going to an animal doctor, just like we go to the doctor to get medicine if we have a sore throat or the flu or a fever.  Cattle are treated so that they can get back to feeling normal so that they can continue to eat and grow!

Questions, thoughts, comments, or concerns?  I would love to hear them!  As we approach Thanksgiving, I can’t help but think about how thankful I am to have grown up around cattle, feedlots, and producers who truly care about the well-being of their animals!
 
Until next time,
Lindy

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