I got this e-mail from a subscriber last week: "David, and whoever else reads this stuff. What I'm telling you is true. Yesterday I'm flying to the USDA Outlook conference (in Washington, DC) and sat with a very nice lady who is in charge of academic research for the University of Maryland.
"Her specific area of research is math. This is all sideline stuff. She complained to me about the lack of science being accepted in her educational world. (Understand this is not where I live). She exclaims, 'We work so hard to prove educational methods (new math being one of her studies) and the educational establishment will not accept the science of our research.'
"I said, 'I understand! I spend my idle time trying to convince food consumers of the safety of GMOS but people will not believe the science.' I could tell by the look on her face that new territory had opened up.
"She said she has organic food delivered to her door every week and charged to her credit card because non organic food is not safe. After getting over the hypocrisy, I asked her where the science was to support the credit card charges. She said it was on the internet. I asked what she paid for a dozen eggs.
She answered, '$5, but my chickens are organic, cage-free, free-range and have toys to play with.' She and I just never reached an equilibrium after that. I still am shocked. We are lost as a country."
This was an amazing testament as to what we are up against. When I read that we need to respond to new consumer demands and adapt food supply chains to accommodate them, I can't help but recoil. Those so-called consumer demands are born in ignorance.
They are based upon false narratives. They are contrived from misinformation provided them by our enemies or by others who seek to profit from the ignorance by feeding it. To capitulate to this seems absurd to me yet that is exactly what is happening as food supply chains do not push back on miss-information but validate it by accepting and accommodating it.
Tyson, Cargill and others who know better, spend their efforts responding to the latest nuance in consumer delusion, taking the "customer is always right" concept to an extreme. These food supply chains have one directive - to make a profit - and if that means going along with crowd delusion so be it.
As I have noted, our customers are "clueless" on food science and we are allowing those who have other interests than ours to write on their blank slates. Farm organizations have not stepped up to meet this formidable challenge.
Checkoff money needs to be re-directed toward supply chain information management. Wal-mart lets the HSUS set its producer animal welfare requirements and the EWG to act as its resource on GMO safety.
The educated nice lady met by my subscriber is grossly misinformed, duped as it is, on the science of food production and safety. She has no idea how dumb she is on food, as she can afford to be that stupid on an academic salary (not everyone can) and the ag sector has failed miserably at educating her. Supply chains don't care what she thinks if it means profits.
The rural-versus-urban divide is vast and it is simply not in our long-term interest to do nothing to close the void and allow this separation of reality to continue as our current food supply chains are doing.
Every time I read that someone is paying $5/dozen for designer eggs because they have been deluded into thinking that paying 10 times the cost of good eggs is worth the money, they are wasting money that should have been put to better purposes.
It is the mission of agriculture to provide wholesome food at the lowest cost in order to devour the least consumer disposable income so there is money beyond basic needs with which to advance the human race. To produce the lowest-cost, wholesome food so there is money to support academic research into math that pays the nice lady well enough to waste her money unnecessarily on fool's food, well, there is insanity in that circle of evolution.
In essence, our ag productivity is creating enough wealth so that we can afford to be stupid about our food productivity. No country in the world has developed a food system more successful at its mission of providing productivity for value than U.S. agriculture.
Smart people are undermining the integrity of our food production system for their self-interest and many food supply chains are complicit in the erosion of knowledge that is occurring.
The structure of our food production system has evolved into supply chains. They appear to have little or no vested interest in providing consumers science-based food knowledge.
If, as the writer says, that our farm and commodity organizations don't step up to interject truth on food into supply chains who impart it to consumers, "We are lost as a country;" I am not ready to give up on that yet.
David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.