Michael Batz sent me a link to a story that took me on a magic carpet ride to the past (Batz also says he coined the term, ‘faith-based food safety’ but maybe he’s on his own magic carpet).
As an undergraduate university student some 25 years ago, I would read the N.Y. Times and Harper’s magazine, and marvel at the sentence structure and the issues that were exposed by hard-hitting journalists.
But over time, my own knowledge increased, and I realized that several of these exposes were really just literary clichés, citing a few sources here and there, usually to validate a pre-existing ideal.
The initial realization was sorta gross (and yes, Michael Pollan was an editor of Harper’s back then, developing the skill set of a committed demagogue rather than investigative journalist).
The same techniques are on full display at the Atlantic Food Channel in a piece by Josh Viertel entitled, Why small farms are safer.
The author offers absolutely no evidence why small farms are safer, but does drop that he studied philosophy, his educated customers may be dumb, rides barefoot in buses and that Subway subs smell of industrial food.
If wannabe farmer Josh wanted to convince anyone that small farms were safer, he would present outbreak data, and rather than saying what his farm isn’t – sorta like organics isn’t GE, isn’t synthetic pesticides, isn’t whatever – he’d state what his farm did to ensure food safety, specifically water quality and testing, soil amendments and employee sanitation.
The author even whines that in 2006, he had trouble moving his spinach crop “all because Cargill’s cows pooped in Dole’s lettuce. It didn’t seem right then. It doesn’t now.”
Except it was poop from a grass-fed cow-calf operation that contaminated the transitional organic spinach in 2006 that sickened over 200 and killed 5.
Data often interferes with demagogues.