So I have a sweet friend. Her name is Katie (Hi, Katie!). She has three lovely children...super cute, and, coincidentally two of the three are exactly three months older than my two youngest. When she was three months along with her third, and I was NOT pregnant, she thought it would be great for us to do it all over again...and we'd have another child together...NO WAY, Jose! I've enjoyed her most recent baby without having one of my own.
Anyway, this is not about babies...it's about our interesting conversations over the years. Katie is smart. She is a great mom. She asks lots of questions, and she listens to all sides. So, yesterday, when I received a text from her in regards to the Dr. Oz show yesterday, I listened. I did my research. I watched online, and I have 6 words to say to "Dr." Oz.
"Hey Oz! Where's the farmer?"
Dr. Oz is not my favorite. He's a sensationalizer. He strikes the fear of God in our hearts when we bite into anything that isn't made entirely of flax seed and red pepper. He is of the Oprah persuasion, and while I was able to tolerate Oprah at times (hello! Favorite THINGS??? Love that!), he is just trying to basically scare the bejeezus out of us all.
When I began to watch the trailer for yesterday's episode, I was nervous. The music alone was nerve wracking. Then, the picture of a combine in a wheat field showed up, dissolving into a corn field waving in the breeze, and then a crop duster (cue even scarier music), followed by ripe fruits and vegetables. All the while, the intense voice over guy was spewing details in regards to the "best kept secret in the food industry."
I watched as Dr. Oz then illustrated the use of pesticides using people spraying small spraying devices on a bucket of corn. Woman after woman joined this illustration, all the while, Dr. Oz was explaining how the use of pesticides since the 90s has increased, and how also we can blame all the miscarriages, learning disabilities and birth defects on us, the evil farmer.
But, suprisingly missing during this time was...A FARMER.
He had experts. He had doctors. He is a doctor. He had the women in the audience so freaked out you could read it on their faces as the camera panned the audience. Audible gasps were heard during the discussion.
BUT WHERE WAS THE AGRICULTURAL REPRESENTATIVE????
Honestly "agvocates," I think we are to blame here to some extent. Why am I going to libraries and coffee shops to meet with urban folks, when what these women and men are generally getting information from Dr. Oz?
Dr. Oz isn't reading this blog, however, I would love to welcome him to do so and come to our farm, while he's at it, so am I just preaching to the wrong choir? Why aren't agricultural people asked to be on a show like this to add our two cents about how our crops require LESS pesticides than before because of the technology we use in the tractor and applicator itself as well as the engineered seed? I don't want a dude in a suit from a corporate company. I want a farmer. An educated, well intentioned farmer to sit on a panel on Dr. Oz.
But where's our invitation?
Well, here's 6 reasons:
1) Money: People like Dr. Oz don't want to be refuted. They want to be retweeted, shared on Facebook, watched on TV to become more famous and ultimately make more money.
2) Spin: Even if Dr. Oz invited someone level headed like my husband to the show to refute his argument, Dr. Oz doesn't want to hear that. He wants you to believe everything he's telling you is true, and that we as farmers are just out to make a buck and harm the earth.
3) Pop Culture: We can't get in. Honestly. There's a disconnect between our advocacy efforts and pop culture. While groups that I participate in are doing a good job in getting our stories out, unless we infiltrate shows like Dr. Oz, we will continually bang our heads against a computer screen trying to refute old arguments such as pesticides.
4) Fear: We are driven by fear. I am signing the kids up for flu shots, because I read that this year's flu strand is deadly, and there was a four year old who died...and on and on. However, isn't this said every year? While I'm not advocating for you to not vaccinate your kid, I tend to freak out about issues like this because it sounds like me, looks like me, applies to me. That's exactly what Dr. Oz is trying to do. He is advocating for health through fear, not facts on all sides. That's not hard-hitting journalism, and pardon the word, that's crap.
5) Justification and a Reason: Obviously, we want a reason for the allergies, the birth defects, the learning disabilities. Unfortunately, we need a scapegoat, and Dr. Oz is using agriculture as such. Lucky us. So, while I agree that I don't want to hang out underneath a crop duster, nor do I dance in the spray as it's applied in the spring on our fields, I will tell you that thanks to technology, we are able to pinpoint exactly where it's needed, and apply it only in that specified location. It's amazing, and I would love to invite Dr. Oz on a round during the application of such.
6) Pride: On both ends, we think we're right. Dr. Oz, I surely hope, has your best interests in mind, as do we, and we're not coming together because of the big, nasty human trait of pride. If we'd all put this aside, and realize that we're all humans, who need to eat and survive together on this earth, maybe we'd make a dent in this argument.
I'm not the person to sit on the panel. I am not an expert. I cannot tell you the complete technical explanation why everything's safe around here, other than in general terms. However, I implore you to be like Katie. Text your farmer friends. Watch shows like this with a critical eye, and ask questions. Ask me questions...fortunately, I'm well connected with experts who are in the industry, not just on the production end, but in the seed, chemical, and animal industry.
Don't freak out thanks to Oz.
Hey! That's six words again!
Linking up with Holly here.