Tag Archives: Consumers

Don’t Believe Everything You Read

While perusing the Internet the other day, I came across a great quote from Abraham Lincoln – “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” Of course, the irony is that there were obviously no computers – and furthermore no Internet – in Abe’s day, but it made a great point. With the advent of the Internet, we (as a society) have gotten lazy and careless about what we post and what we believe. The same day, a friend of mine posted a photo on Facebook that claimed Monsanto refuses to serve GM (genetically modified) foods in their own company cafeterias. There was nothing to reveal the source of this information. There was no evidence or proof to back up the claim. And yet, there was a feeding frenzy in the way people ate this up and forwarded it on as fact.

Alex FBlog photo

I took the time to do some of my own research on this subject and confirmed that it is, indeed, false (metabunk.org, monsantoblog.com). It all stemmed from a story about ONE particular Monsanto location (out of hundreds), and the claim was made by Sutcliffe Catering Group, NOT Monsanto employees. Then Greenpeace (an organization with an anti-GMO agenda) jumped on board and ran with the story to the point that every time it was told, more exaggerations were added to the story until the final product is a simple photo of a cafeteria brimming with tasty looking foods and one line about how Monsanto won’t even serve its own GM foods in its own cafeterias. Without fail, people seemed to pass this false image on with the click of a button, believing it to be true.  

People have always feared new technologies and things they do not understand. That’s nothing new. Isaac Asimov capitalized upon this to sell millions of books about robots conquering the human race. What’s new is the accessibility of the Internet to promote this fear mongering with the click of a button. People have a tendency to believe what they read without ever questioning it or researching its authenticity. I admit, I have fallen into this realm at times, usually forwarding a political post that is maybe a half truth. That’s the other thing to be aware of: it’s easy to make something look or sound bad when it is taken out of context. I am much more keenly aware now and scrutinize heavily whatever I may choose to pass on. I call out friends when their posts are inaccurate. It truly is a challenge to sort out fact from fiction and definitely easier to just click that “forward” button. However, it is our responsibility to make sure what we are posting is accurate.

Aside from checking with experts in the industry to confirm or deny the truthfulness of statements, make sure you check those posts against “fact-checking sites,” which do the research for you.  You’ll be surprised at how much you read that is “sort of true.” That is to say, maybe they got the headline right but most of the story is wrong. Check your friends’ posts and people who leave comments on stories. Don’t be afraid to call them out when they are wrong…just make sure you have the evidence to back it! Here are some fact-checking sites to help in your endeavor: Snopes, Fact Check, Truth or Fiction and About.com Urban Legends.

National Day of Prayer

The Drought of 2012 is predicted to go down in history as the worst drought in 50 years.  People all over the United States and the world are being affected by the lack of rain.  Crops have withered away, pastures are not growing, and farmers are looking for a way to keep clean water available to their livestock. With harvest just starting in some states we will begin to see just how bad the drought has affected the corn crop along with the other commodities.   In the next few months many farming and ranching families are going to be feeling the affects of higher feeding costs for their livestock.  Many people have also been affected by prairie fires that have taken lots of pasture acres that were so desperately needed.

 Today Thursday, Aug. 23, the American Farm Bureau Federation is asking Americans to join them in a National Day of Prayer for the people being affected by the drought.  There are many individuals and families facing severe struggles due to this year’s devastating drought.  There truly is not a person involved in agriculture this year who has not been adversely affected by the drought of 2012 in at least some way.  Even every consumer will also be affected.

Please join the American Farm Bureau and all of us farmers and ranchers in a National Day of Prayer.  Let’s pray for abundant rain to start nationwide and for those people are dealing with such hardship.  It is a great way to support everyone being challenged by this ongoing drought.

Agricultural conversations

A thought occurred to me today as I was leaving people voicemails. I’m in the habit of saying “talk with you soon,” rather than what I hear in voicemails as, “talk to you soon.” I don’t want to come across as someone with all the right answers, but isn’t talking with someone so much nicer than being talked to?

In the agricultural “world,” we have a tendency to talk to people about what we do. What I find to be more fulfilling is having conversations with people about agriculture, rural living, urban and suburban lifestyles and all the things in between.

Think about this: in school, was it more effective to have your instructor teaching you methods to use later in life or explaining how to do something and why, or was it more effective for that instructor to be demeaning or say you were wrong without an explanation?

Having conversations about food, plants and animals and other “aggie” things should be just that – a conversation. Talking down to someone, assuming an attitude that someone cannot understand agriculture and arguing or getting openly frustrated with someone are not ways to build a positive relationship with others over agricultural discussions. Instead, try to see things from the other person’s view, answer questions and ask some questions yourself.

And now that I’ve talked typed to you, what do think? Have you been in these conversation situations – good or bad – that influenced your behavior the next time around?