This weekend, millions of Americans will gather together and many will enjoy a hotdog, hamburger or perhaps a steak as part of their Fourth of July holiday. That’s historically been part of our American tradition with holidays, birthdays and other special events—food as the centerpiece. I hate to mention seafood, but Christmas Eve isn’t Christmas Eve without oyster stew. In fact, I’m not sure my family has ever prepared it any other time.
Those were the good old days, though, and it seems times have changed. Somewhere along the way, diet became a political statement and food activism was born. I have read as much as I can from the various food activist groups in an attempt to understand what drives their beliefs that modern agriculture is bad and that the old, inefficient ways are somehow more sustainable.
I have yet to fully comprehend their belief system, however. Certainly, technology and modern agriculture have improved the healthfulness, safety, abundance and affordability of food. Without question, the world’s population is growing and to be both environmentally and economically sustainable, agriculture will have to continue to improve its efficiency.
However, technology, innovation and modern production practices have always had opponents. The anti-capitalism element is explainable; capitalism might benefit most people, create wealth and improve standards of living, but it will always have its critics because it inevitably results in not only creating winners, but also losers. It can be unpopular to be anti-science, so those who oppose the societal or cultural changes that science has spawned instead have opted for a “new” science which is actually the politicization of science that is so perverted that pseudo-science is a very kind term to describe it.
Sadly, it has become a race to see who can create the best “scientific” explanation to make a case for their political agenda. The debates about global warming and our interface with food have clearly shown that “science” is no longer determined by facts, but rather by political agendas. What’s more, the politicization of science has made the media, not scientists, the arbitrator of truth. That means the debate comes down to political power and willpower.
It might be argued that scientific results have always been dictated by the funding source. Industry-funded research has always been looked at with circumspect, but sadly, it is like the Dove soap of research (99.8% pure) when compared with government-funded research. Just try to get funds for research that validates the claims of global warming critics or that looks at good diet vs. bad diet as opposed to good food vs. bad food. Every professor in the country knows what it takes to be funded and what the outcome must be – it must validate the political agendas of those who are in charge of the funding. Cross the line and you will not only lose your funding, you will jeopardize your credibility.
The food movement is simply the continuation of a process that has long been in place. However, advancing a food agenda that is anti-commercial agriculture wasn’t possible to the extent it is today until the majority of people lost contact with how their food is produced. The sustainability, environmental and food movements were not possible when people had firsthand experience with modern agriculture.
That is the foundation of pseudo-science—it only works when people don’t have the first-hand experience and knowledge to intuitively know it is false, and to be able to question the faulty premises upon which it must be based. Add the media to mix in the politicization of science and you find that that most consumers, while more than intelligent enough to make their own decisions if given the facts, only receive one side of the story.
As for me and my house, we intend to enjoy both our fireworks and our hamburgers without guilt. Pseudo-science be darned.
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