Food Labeling has been a hot topic in recent years, with extremists and protestors on either side of argument. Neither side ever seems to want to listen to the other, and this leads to distrust and miscommunication. Food labeling sounds like a simple request- label what ingredients are in our food, so that we can make a conscious decision about our food choices and health outcomes. Food labeling can also aid those who have allergies or specific food regulations and restrictions. However, food labeling can be destructive and have negative impacts on farmers and the food industry as a whole. Because of the recent craze regarding GMOs, and organic food products, food labeling unnecessarily can mislead consumers and cost farmers money. Because there is controversy about GMOs, and a lack of education and understanding of them by the general public, food marketers and behavioral psychologists can use GMOs and their “buzz” to sway consumers into buying certain products over others. Something labeled GMO free, does not mean that something without a label has GMOs in it. This misguidance leads to not only uneducated decisions, but economically irresponsible decisions. Only 2% of the population are farmers, and if they cannot provide for their family, the entire agricultural system can collapse.
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Guest Lecture: Michele Walfred
I enjoyed Michele’s guest lecture about social media. At first, I was somewhat skeptical because of how she talked down social media. She explained how people use it to update others about their day-to-day lives and actions, and how it is somewhat overkill. However, I think that is what the entire platform of social media is for. It is to stay connected to those who you cannot talk to every day face to face. However, I thoroughly enjoyed where the lecture went! Michelle explained how you can utilize social media in a positive light. She said how you can use it professionally, and how you can shine light on common misconceptions, and fake news. You can use your social media accounts for more then just every day updates; you can use it to educate those who do not have access to university information and knowledge. Education is the first step for change. There is so much fake news and science nonbelievers especially in the realm of agriculture. Instead of complaining or being unprofessional on social media when addressing these issues, you can use your platform to educate those and provide credible resources with real science and news. Social media can be positive, it just depends on how you decide to use it!
Guest Lecture: Tracy Wootten & Valann Budischak
The Green Industry Guest Lecture was my favorite guest lecture of the course! I majored in Landscape Architecture, and I currently have a minor in Landscape Horticulture and Design. I also interned at Longwood Gardens, and so I have a passion for the Horticulture industry. I loved hearing these two women speak about University of Delawares horticulture programs and opportunities, and also the industry as a whole. They covered a lot of very interesting topics such as nursery production, green house production, liveable lawns, landscapers, florists, and crop production. I loved learning about each of these sectors in the industry separately, and how they work together like a puzzle piece. It was also interesting to be informed about their efforts to educate the public about smarter gardening by utilizing native plantings. It makes me feel very hopeful to know that there is a unified effort to create a sustainable earth! I even enjoyed learning about the Christmas Tree business, because I never realized how involved it is. I thought these two women were incredibly knowledgable, and I enjoyed their lecture very much!
Guest Speaker: Mark Davis
Mark Davis was a very unique guest lecture! I did not have any prior knowledge of the Horse Racing Industry whatsoever. I especially did not know the deep roots that the equine industry has in the state of Delaware. I found Mark Davis’s lecture to be fascinating, and fun. I never thought of the horse Racing Industry has an economically beneficial industry. I thought the exact opposite, that people go to the horse races to gamble, and most of the time waste/lose their money. Gaining knowledge about the Horse Racing Industry showed me that many businesses that you overlook, are the backbones of local economies. I did not realize just how influential the horse racing industry is, especially when paired with the casinos. I also enjoyed learning about the regulations. It is comforting to know that the industry works incredibly hard to prevent possible cheating. I did not realize how strict rules and drug tests are administered. They even fine people for different activities! I am happy to have heard Mark Davis speak, he gave me insight to an industry that I was not exposed to before hand!
Guest Speaker: Dan Severson
Dan Severson made several compelling points throughout his guest lecture. My favorite aspect of his lecture was the discussion of family farming. The general public has a misconception about factory farming vs. family farming. Most of the country does not know that the vast majority (96%) of farms are family owned, even if they are quite large. Dan Severson took it a step further, and explained what it would take to make a living off of a farm. He dove into facts regarding meat consumption per capita, family income and food costs, and the actual percentage of farmers there are countrywide (2%). Dan Severson explained how agriculture is such a difficult business to thrive in. It depends on the weather, the market, and the technology available. Farming is expensive, labor intensive, and difficult to perfect. I enjoyed how he explained in details different categories of farming such as poultry, beef, sheep, and dairy. The break down helped me be able to visualize every day responsibilities and challenges that these farmers face. I appreciate having heard Dan Severson speak!
Guest Speaker: Ed Kee
I enjoyed Ed Kee’s guest lecture about Delaware Agriculture. He gave us a very vital insight into Delaware Agriculture and how it affects the rest of our country. I loved learning the details about Delaware, and how it compares to other Agriculturally Innovative States such as California. Ed Kee not only gave us statistics regarding present day Delaware Agriculture, but the history of Agriculture in the U.S. as a whole. He walked us through the colonial Period and how Agriculture has transformed over the years economically and efficiency wise in the country. I thought that the organization of the lecture was interesting. Ed Kee first focused on Delaware Agriculture by “zooming into” Delaware and looking at its specific economic inputs and outputs, and then connected it to the rest of the United States! Ed Kee had a wealth of knowledge and shared it well. I feel like I am better connected to the farmers in Delaware after being educated about their common misconceptions, achievements, past, present, and possible futures.
UD WEBB Farm Field Trip
Saturday’s field trip to Ud’s WEBB Farm was incredibly educational. I learned so much about my University that I did not know about after attending school here for three years. I had heard of Webb Farm before, but I had never been there before. I did not know that we had horses! I am very appreciative of the experience, even though it was a chilly day. I enjoyed seeing the baby cows, and learning about the AG technology that UD utilizes with their dairy cows. I did not realize how technologically advanced our farm is. I loved seeing where the cows get milked, and how the technology identifies each individual cow, and records all of their data automatically. I also was intrigued by the cows feeding system, and how they are trained to go to the same feeder every day. In addition to the dairy cows, we got to learn a lot about how UD maintains their chickens, horses, sheep, and beef cows. We learned a lot of very honest information in regards to farm management, and the challenges that technologic advances can present. We even were given access to view the compost section of the Farm, even though it is not as well developed as they would have liked it to be. As I was taking in the fall colors and scenery on the way to Webb Farm, we were informed that the trees we saw were all planted as a buffer. They are almost all native, and provide a variety of environmental benefits to the landscape surrounding the research farm. I was very happy to hear that, and it gave me a deeper appreciation of the landscape, knowing it’s impact on the environment!
Mark Lynas Oxford Farming Conference
After watching the video of Mark Lynas at the 2013 Oxford Farming Conference, I have more hope in education than I had before. Mark Lynas is a prime example of someone who was anti-GMO and anti-Science. He was against technology that he did not understand, and used misconceptions and fear to alter peoples perspectives of a technology that was supposed to help save the world’s declining agriculture. Due to climate change, increasing population, and declining soil nutrition, Agriculture faces more challenges than ever before. Mark Lynas was again against GMO’s because of his lack of understanding of them. Through education he was able to deepen his understanding of how GMO’s work, and how they effect the world. I think that now more than ever, he is an incredibly powerful and influential position in the environmental and agricultural world. He was anti-science himself, and through education he was able to stand up for what was right. I think that he is able to reach out to more people, and change peoples’ minds about GMOs because he was once a non-believer. I think that he will bring a down to earth perspective, and will be able to relate to people who are still against this technology. He had an incredibly grounded reason of why he changed his mind from anti to pro. He read peer-reviewed papers, and read articles, and did research, and he attended appropriate conferences. Through this education and new-found knowledge he was able to support a technology that is helping to save the world. GMO’s are creating plants that are stronger against environmental stresses such as pests, and hot weather, and they are also creating plants that are richer in nutrients and helping humans stay healthy. I commend Mark Lynas for his research and his search for the truth!
Fifer Orchards is an amazing family owned 2800 acre farm. The farm is an amazing example of Delaware Agriculture. Fifer Orchards is a community based orchard that focuses it’s attention on involvement, education, and community supported agriculture (CSA). The farm grows produce such as sweet corn, cauliflower, kale, apples, strawberries, and tomatoes. They also have a wonderful market in which they sell pies, baked goods, and jams. We visited Fifer Orchards on their first Fall Fest day of 2017-2018. They had a band, food trucks, and bouncy houses for the community to come spend time and learn about where their food is grown. It was amazing to see the technology they utilize to produce incredible yields. Fifer uses hand labor, but they also use machines to do a variety of tasks such as planting beds and laying plastic for next years strawberry crops. They use specialized plastic for their high tunnels that reject red UV light to keep the temperatures cool. Their watering systems vary on the crop in which they are placed, but they use pivot irrigation systems or drip. They annually employ over 160 people! Seeing the diversity and the variety of techniques they use to maintain a successful business was very inspirational! Their family business is truly amazing, and contributes to Delaware’s community!
Cartanza Poultry Farm Visit
Visiting the Poultry Farm that Georgie Cartanza runs was an awesome experience. When we first got off of the bus and I smelled the farm, I was somewhat skeptical. However, listening to Georgie inform us about how many families she can feed annually just from her farm brought me right back into an excited mind set. I am still beyond impressed that she takes care of so many people with her farm. I was very happy with the way that Georgie articulated her language throughout her explanation of organic farming. I liked how she explained why she went organic, and what it truly entails. She gave me experienced and knowledgable information that I respect and trust. When we went into the chicken house, I was absolutely stunned at how peaceful it was. Compared to outside, the house was quite quiet, and very docile. The chickens did not seem chaotic or uncomfortable. They were very mellow, and I enjoyed watching them perform their daily tasks such as eating and drinking. I had an image in my mind previously that was not negative, but was not nearly as positive as the reality of the farm truly was. The Cartanza farm was an excellent learning experience, and I think that Georgie should contemplate running tours once a month! I think that her farm could educationally benefit society on a topic that is not talked about nearly enough in todays culture!