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Navel oranges and seedless watermelons
John Schlageck clr.tif

With some of the negative publicity about this country’s food supply, some folks have concluded the best plate may be an empty plate. How else are they going to avoid killer popcorn, monster tomatoes, drug-treated cattle, radioactive chicken and toenail hotdogs?
If you’re totally disgusted about what you read or overwhelmed by news reports that question the safety of your food, you’re not alone.
What can you do?
To begin with, exercise common sense. In our country, people are living longer and healthier lives than ever before. Over consumption can indeed pose a health hazard, but scientists do not believe specific foods are health villains.
To provide an abundant, safe, reliable and inexpensive food supply, most of us are dependent on modern agricultural practices and food techniques. Some would argue we do not need GMOs (genetically modified organisms), fresh produce like tomatoes because there is already too much food and we don’t need some of these items because they are luxuries anyway.
This is a shortsighted, naïve attitude. This country, and hungry people around the world, will always need more food. We must always find ways to produce more efficiently in this country. Continued change and advances in technology will be the only thing that provides answers to an ever-growing population with additional food demands.
Anyway, why shouldn’t we have access to delicious vegetables all year round? Especially when the increased intake of fresh fruits and vegetables has been scientifically proven to be healthy and reduce the risk of health problems.
Critics of technology have been around since the first caveman rounded off the square edges of a stone block and chiseled out the first wheel. Most people fought the coming of steam locomotives and buggy makers cried out against the coming of the Model T.
In agriculture, new plant varieties created with these techniques will offer foods with better taste, more nutrition and longer shelf life. Farmers will be able to grow these new varieties more efficiently, leading to lower consumer costs and greater environmental protection.
Soybeans that produce high oleic oil containing less saturated fat and require less processing, cotton plants that fight pests or produce naturally colored cotton, reducing the need for chemical dyes and bananas that deliver vaccines to fight enteric diseases are just a few examples of what’s in store.
Sound far-fetched?
Probably the same reaction my father would have had if someone told him his son would go to a supermarket and buy things like navel oranges and seedless watermelons.
Steam pasteurization, food irradiation, genetically modified grains can best be summed up in one word – PROGRESS.
Food safety has always been an emotional issue. Reactions to some of these food scares confirm the adage that a rumor can travel half way around the world before the truth pulls on its boots.
Too often today, most news translates into “bad” news. The prospect of scare headlines is often irresistible.
The agricultural industry must continue to step forward to tell its story. Scientists must step forward to clear up some of the misinformation in the press.
Until this occurs, be wary of food scares. On the other hand, don’t forget to eat and drink from our food supply. It is the safest, best tasting in the world.
John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion