How much do you want to know about food before it reaches your plate?

A video showing animal cruelty has prompted major food outlets to drop their business with Sparboe Farms, an egg supplier based in Litchfield. Today’s Question: How much do you want to know about food before it reaches your plate?

  • Joanna

    In the last few years, I’ve made the choice to only buy food that is sourced by my coop: organic whenever possible. I want to know if my fish is wild-caught or farmed; I don’t want hormones or antibiotics in the milk, or pesticide residues on my fruit or veg. I’d rather buy meat or poultry when I know that the animals have been raised in humane conditions, and eat the foods they eat naturally (grass-fed, instead of feedlot beef). I don’t want MSG or high-fructose corn syrup in any packaged foods. If it’s local, even better. I’ve found that by having this information, I can make healthier food choices, my food tastes better. By carefully shopping sales, I don’t spend any more money than if I shopped for price first. I also want my food choices to support farming practices that are sustainable. The more information, the better, but it needs to be consistent information, not sales pitches.

  • Kurt

    Unless you grow your own you probably don’t know as much as you think. “Organic” can mean just about anything apparently. Last night my wife showed me the “cage free” eggs she had bought at Target. They were from Sparboe. Then there is the matter of all the chemicals present in the plastics that food is packaged and eaten with that make there way into our bodies. Good luck.

  • John

    We grow, can and freeze the majority of what we eat except for meat and fish. We are fortunate to live out a ways and know neighbors who farm and have grass fed cattle, we buy from them. The fish, we have to trust the producer.

    Otherwise, we have learned to read the labels, and stay away from most boxed and bagged processed foods.

  • Mike Allen

    As much as possible, that’s why I shop at my local Co-op, where everything is well labeled and they will point you to their suppliers.

    I can usually walk away having purchased organic, cage-free groceries produced mostly in Minnesota during the summer, and always in the United States or Canada year-round!

  • Steve the Cynic

    I would prefer not to have to worry about my food at all, but to have an effective regulatory system I could trust. But since the USDA and FDA are in the pockets of big agribusiness and major manufacturers, and since the Repugnicans have been pushing deregulation and refusing to adequately fund what regulators we do have, I find myself being suspicious of labels. Because of the twisted ideology of “free markets,” I’m not free to trust that the food I eat is safe and/or ethically produced.

  • Steve the Cynic

    How fortunate for you, John, that you have land to plant your vegetable garden on, and time to tend it. That’s not an option for most Americans.

  • John

    Yes Steve we are fortunate. BUT we have planned and worked hard for both the land we have and the garden we grow. Canning and processing foods is not trivial.

    There are many community gardens that if a person wanted they could become involved and work and gain. Its free, you just have to be willing to get a little dirty and get off the couch.

  • david

    I’m completely at the mercy of the large chain grocery stores in my area. No co-ops, though we do have a small farmers market. We try to buy and cook as healthy as possible, mostly fruits and vegetables, whole grains, avoid overly processed foods and have been reducing our meat consumption substantially.

    The last couple years we have been experimenting with growing vegetables in pots on the patio. It takes a lot more diligence then we can devote to it though. One hot day without waters can be devastating, the pots just dry out so fast.

  • MikeK

    It’s not so much me I’m worried about as I’m terrified what this food is doing to our kids and their kids. Food and seed companies are changing and patenting DNA on seeds/plants/food. What happens when that DNA ends up in your grand children? Or do We “the people” already belong to those companies? The restructured, highly processed, corn is already in us and our children. Science has already shown that we have more corn in us than peoples who eat it as a staple. Read Michael Pollan’s “the Omnivore’s Dilemma,” then “Merchants of Doubt,” by Naomi Oreskes & Eric Conway.

  • Steve the Cynic

    “What happens when that DNA ends up in your grand children?”

    That sort of rhetoric betrays a lack of understanding of science. You eat DNA all the time, and none of it gets passed on to your progeny. Except for things like mined salt, everything you eat was once alive, and living things have DNA. The manipulated DNA of GMOs is no different. I’m not worried about GMOS per se. I’m worried about big agribusiness using intellectual property laws to control the world’s food supply.

  • jillyj73

    Not to sound naive, but ignorance is bliss. I’d rather not think about it.

  • MikeK

    “That sort of rhetoric betrays a lack of understanding of science. You eat DNA all the time, and none of it gets passed on to your progeny.”

    Let’s just forget about the freaky frogs popping up all over the country. That’s just part of nature’s way.

    “I’m worried about big agribusiness using intellectual property laws to control the world’s food supply.”

    Big agribusiness is already suing farmers, and winning, over their patented GMOs DNA ending up in fields where that farmer did not plant the seed (blow over). The DNA is showing up in new crops, having already crossed over to plants that were not planted as GMO seed, and innocent farmers are having to either pay up or burn crops. Often the cost to defend themselves is too high. Take it a step further. What happens when that GMO’s DNA shows up in cattle that Monsanto does not already control? Does Monsanto now have a right to that cattle because it’s mother ate some of the GMO feed? Now keep going up and across the food chain.

    Big Agrabusiness already controls too much of our food via government prats (USDA and FDA) and they consistently have their product(s) pushed through to the “market” without anyone really noticing. Go back and research why the sugar beat crop might have been slowed for 2012.

    These companies control the seed and the fertilizer, thus what farmers plant. They also control the processing of the crop after harvest and do not let third parties inspect that process. They don’t have to because most of them are still privately held.

    The short story is we’ve already lost control of knowing enough about our food.

    Yes, I want to know where the food comes from and it will affect how my children and their children get their food.

  • Jason

    As much as I need to know, but probably like many people I have to make assumptions. We all consume products that when broken down have thousands of origins and manufacturing processes. Short of devoting every spare moment to researching all of these details we have to trust in a company’s reputation.

    As much as I don’t like big government I think regulation is one of its necessary functions. Product quality beyond what we can directly observe in the store is dependent on these regulations.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Apparently you agree with me, MikeK, that letting big business control the food supply through manipulation of intellectual property rights is a huge mistake. But you hurt your case when you throw in junk science like that. GMOs have nothing to do with “freaky frogs” (maybe it’s due to farm chemicals, or parasites, or something like that, but it’s not like the Roundup-Ready gene has somehow gotten into the frogs’ genomes), and your mentioning it in this context is exactly as nonsensical as kimMN mentioning Obama’s birth certificate in connection with the question about street art.

  • barracuda

    here we go again, kids.

  • EAL

    It is interesting hearing those who somehow believe past generations had it better. Consider the lack of food once not available or the diseases that were rampant. Take away referigiration, microwaves, pesticides and have all citizens live off the land, hunt or out of the sea, then consider the results. Then of course we as a society are living longer with each generation then ask, why and if a problem actually exists. Finally for those who despise chemicals in the food supply, consdier this two part hydorgen (a chemical) and one part oxygen (a chemical) and voila, one has water. Everything of this earth is comprised of a chemical.

  • James

    As little as possible.

    Here are a few related things I do like to know.

    (1) Food costs the average American family 7% of household income now vs. 17% twenty years ago.

    (2) The earth’s population is currently 7 billion. And never before has a higher percentage of the world’s population been reasonably well fed.

    (3) It was never a great life being a chicken (cow, pig, etc.) Fulfillment was always lacking and you rarely got to know your grandkids.

  • Tom

    I myself want to know what I am eating and what I am feeding my wife and child. This includes; where it was raised, how it was raised, what is was fed and how it was processed if applicable. I also happen to work for the coop in St Peter. We are in no way preachy about food or what folks choose to eat or feed their families, but I love nothing more than talking to, and helping folks become more educated about the food they eat. Coop’s are great community tools for learning about food and nutrition in general.

  • Gretchen

    In response to EAL

    First, arsenic is a chemical, and natural, and it can also kill us. It also kills insects and is often sprayed on the food we eat. Personally, I would not like to eat arsenic, nor would I like my kids and family to eat it. We can’t argue that a chemical is a chemical is a chemical, therefore we can just eat any chemical and be fine. That is simply just not biologically sound. Chemical does not automatically equal food substance.

    Second, multiple studies have shown that organic, rotational methods of farming are just as productive as using pesticides, fertilizer, and GMO’s. And organic farming is more cost effective for farmers. The reason conventionally farmed produce is less expensive is because the government does not subsidize organic or sustainable farming.

    Third, don’t forget about the “food deserts” that exist in our culture today. Large geographical areas in the US that have limited or no access to REAL food, like fresh fruits and vegetables. These tend to be lower income neighborhoods, and people who live there are suffering a variety of health problems because they mostly eat junk food (chemical innovation!). Let’s not forget that taxpayers will foot the bill for their medical services.

    Finally, progress, technology, and innovation are great, and have made our lives far better. But we can’t have the mindset that innovation can’t be changed (or that maybe we were wrong about some things!). After all, the most amazing thing about the future is the endless possibilities! We are selling ourselves short the think that conventional agribusiness is the only way that we can feed ourselves.

  • Allan

    I want to know a lot about my foods. I DO NOT want agribusiness lobbying government to prevent me from knowing things. I think labels should tell us if certain genetically modified fodos were used in a product, or if milk was produced by cows that were given RBGH, etc. Unfortunately, even if my food co-op or local producer wanted to label some foods, agribusiness has managed to get some regualtions that PREVENT certain info about food additives/GMO’s from being used on labels, even voluntarily. That’s wrong.

    Also, some states with pwoerful food lobbies have laws that make it illegal to speak about the additivies in food, etc. Remember Oprah being sued for disparaging hamburgers? Where does it stop?

  • Regnar James

    I grow a 60×40’ garden, hunt, fish, and gather as much of my own food as possible.

    With the time I have I am able to supplement my store bought food by about 40%.

    Nothing like Roasted Venison over a bead of wild rice with a side of corn… all by ME:-)

    Oh-yah… fresh eggs for breakfast, with wild rice pancakes / blueberries and pure maple syrup.


  • kimMN

    If we really want to know about our food we will have to wait for the next President to take leadership. If Obama can not be transparent as he promised he would be ( e.g. Solyndra and Sunpower and Beacon losing our tax dollar 32 billions and the disgusting total lack of his administration’s transparency with the Fast and Furious gun smuggling investigations and border agent deaths..well, asking for that leader-less admin to inform us of FDA to inform us of our foods NOW that is pretty silly.

  • kimMN

    People should stop blaming the agencies and start looking at the leadership that allows graft and corruption between business and government.

    How much do you want to know about food before it reaches your plate? Probably most Minnesotans want to know more about that then they did to learn about who they elected.

    For example:Two years a go, an informal polling at seven large MN schools showed only one in 12 teachers knew how Congress works, they couldn’t say what the House does or Senate responsibilities, and nine of ten did not know who the Speaker was or of Obama’s work history..which is really funny since his only paid work was as a law clerk for a year and taught ACORN leaders from Saul Alinsky’s Handbook for Radicals..Those same teachers did know who was on Dancing with the Stars__and we still expect voters to be informed???

  • Chris Gordon

    I want to know everything about where my food comes from. You are what you eat. Let’s reveal what is happening on farms all across this nation. Most people would make significant dietary changes if they truly knew about the treatment of animals, the anti-biotics used and the environmental damage caused by many of the huge factory farms. What is in our food is directly correlated to the obesity epidemic. It is time to label GMO foods and more strictly regulate our food industry. Small local so-called ‘specialty” farms that grow our fruit and vegetables are the ones we should subsidize in a farm bill. The whole foods they produce could reduce overall health care costs significantly.

  • Steve the Cynic

    The Obama administration is no more opaque than his predecessor’s. If you think a Republican president is going to be asking harder questions of Big Business that Obama is, kimMN, you’re deluding yourself (as usual).

  • Steve the Cynic

    Between fuzzy-minded liberals who think natural is a synonym for good, and cold-hearted conservatives who superstitiously believe that the Invisible Hand will magically solve all of our problems, I despair of having a reasonable conversation about agriculture policy.

  • kimMN

    @steve..thank you, “The Obama administration is no more opaque than his predecessor’s”

    EXACTLY, BUT _Obama campaigned on” NO MORE BUSINESS as USUAL in DC” and he also promised to be “transparent.”

    Knowing what is in our foods would be nice but asking the Obama to be transparent in how those process take place in his agencies is like asking Charlie Sheen to give up drugs.

    Remember that Obama promised if he could spend $870 billion in the second stimulus, that such would save the economy from ever hitting 8% unemployment. But it fast went to plus 9%. He PROMISED he would see the debt cut in half but___ when he took office the debt was $8 trillion. And just three years later, it is just passing the $15 trillion dollar mark! What a swell leader who plays around in Balli, apologizes to our enemies and refuses to make an energy policy, we could be independent in energy within 2 years if he hadn’t killed every effort.

  • Steve the Cynic

    You’re changing the subject again, kimMN. It’s not Obama that’s keeping secrets about what’s in our food; it’s the amoral corporations that the Gang Of Plutocrats want to further deregulate.

  • kimMN

    Steve may be correct just as much as Obama isn’t using class warfare to rally his small base…refer to the polls and the 2010 landslide elections favoring conservatives election.

  • kimMN

    How can we expect the government to be honest with us on food processing when Obama and Attorney Holder refuse to abide fully with Congressional investigations or that Obama refused to be transparent with showing his birth certificate for three years, and then all he releases is a photo copy assumed to be legit yet the forensic experts all say that the type face last names of Obama Sr. and of Barrack are identical. In 1961 they used typewriters to fill certificates and no two letters are exactly typed the same by hand pressure and ink used…thus the photocopy shows a document that was photo shopped by using the letters in OBAMA twice, cut and pasted with Adobe software. He didn’t release the alleged valid photocopy until the day before the investigative findings in the book was released. So, until we have a honest leader in the White House, don’t ask for truth from any agency he has involvement with.

  • Steve the Cynic

    We’ve heard that bullshit about Obama’s birth certificate before. We still don’t believe you, kimMN, and it still has nothing to do with the topic. The only thing you’re proving is that no one should take you seriously about anything.

  • SteveR

    Dear MPR,

    The “Question of the day” is a good idea… but you need to manage it , control it and Monitor it. That means you need to delete off topic posts, personal attacks and limit the number of posts that someone can post in a day.

    I enjoyed “Question of the day” when it started, but now you seem to have “a very a few people posting, many times, on every question, every day, when it is obvious that yes they have an “Opinion”…( but(t) we don’t need to go into the classic statements about Opinions) they have no education in, or technical knowledge of, or any practical working experience about the “Question of the day” topic.

    I’ll stop… all I know is at food shelf event for this pre Thanksgiving Holiday. The group was asked if they wanted the radio on the intercom while baskets were prepared. Yes they did and MPR was the choice of 80% of use. We started talking during a 12 hour day of help people and being that MPR was known to be common denominator the website came up and the “Question of the day” came up…

    Maybe MPR you need a focus group…or just listen to your Members. I had my opinion (for what it is worth)… out of a group of 75 people … I could not work with all of them but … it came up too often to be just coincidence…. Most feel the “Question of the day” is of no value anymore… why?

    Two names came up from 75% of the people I talked to. Due to a few that don’t stay on topic to the “Question of the day” and they seem to respond to almost every post and they go off topic all the time… They make the (this) site not worth visiting anymore…

    The two people seem to be stopping open and active interaction, that need to get their own blog are “kimMN” and “Steve the Cynic”.

    I was blown away to hear this so many time in one day. As I have stopped coming to this site regularly because I’m sick of reading (the same too name I heard that day) their personal jabs at each other! While at the same time monopolizing, the Q of the Day as their person blogs…and just not being worth reading.

    Hey, Staff of “Question of the day”, phrase a “Question of the day” about this and see what you get….. but you will need to do it for several days….as most of the people I know that use to read/view the “Question of the day”… don’t come here but maybe once or week ….

    Just thought!….

    Keep “Question of the day” as it is….or get rid of it?

    Or working like it should…and did when it started!

  • barracuda

    I second SteveR’s sentiment. Please I used to enjoy checking out the QotD and commenting occasionally, but lately it’s just a tedious and vitriolic flame war between Steve and Kim. The easiest solution to this would be to delete their comments.

    Otherwise, force people to “register” and then block these users. Personally, I think this option is less desirable, but given the research suggesting that anonymity breeds incivility, it would improve the forum significantly.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Thanks for the feedback, SteveR. I agree.

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