Food Scares, Big Brother Veggies, and Zucchini Frappuccinos

Doc Callahan, retired professor, part-time farmer, and full-time pontificator, receives countless inquiries about the food we eat, and after hours of deep thought, he provides the road apples of knowledge that help fertilize the mind. This week, Doc addresses three troubling issues that keep us awake at night.
Dear Doc,
Seems a red alert comes out monthly with rice, apple juice, and red meat recently attacked by various scientific sounding studies. I can’t live on blueberries, Greek yogurt, and green tea alone. Should I pay attention to these warnings? Baffled in Baton Rouge
Dear Baffled,
I ignored food studies until a few years ago when they reported that a beer or two a day might be good for you. I cut that story out of the newspaper and framed it. Actually, I’m a big proponent of science and research, so I advise having a good look at any report. But check the methods, the source, and the slant. It’s also a good idea to follow the money. And be assured that a counter group will have an opposing report out in the following day or two. Search for credible, peer-reviewed research, the type done by groups like the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology. And relax. Stress will kill you faster than a super-sized soda will. I advise that you eat sensibly and moderately. You’ll know what really makes you feel healthy—and no, it’s not a diet based on beer. Doc
Dear Doc,
The new food rules in school cafeterias have me in a tizzy. My teenage son says the feeble amount of calories makes him weak during football practice, and my third grade daughter came home with two cling peaches and a small head of cauliflower in her Hello Kitty backpack. She hid them so the teacher wouldn’t yell at her for not eating her allotment of fruits and veggies. My kids are starving while some Big Brother official forces ultra foodie fare at them.  Wasting Away in Wagga Wagga
Dear Wasted,
I haven’t gone through a cafeteria line since the 60s, but coincidentally, students were protesting about the food even back then. The curdled chunks of soured milk in those wax cartons and the white bread sandwiches with mellow yellow butter in them put me off dairy products for a spell, but I’ve recovered enough to become a real Got Milk Guy. Fish stick Friday was also a challenge if you were last in line because the golden brown planks became cold and soggy by the time you gobbed tartar sauce on them. However, I don’t make light of the current controversy. Kids need calories (what obesity epidemic?), and anyway, I hate to see students throwing fruit and veggies into the garbage. Maybe your children will acquire a taste for the new food. If not, pack some leftover pizza and Twinkies in a container and encourage them to protest peacefully. This link to a clever parody from a Kansas high school could give them some ideas. Doc
Dear Doc,
In the past year I’ve repeatedly read that by 2050 we farmers will need to double our food production to feed the expected nine billion global inhabitants. I’m worried. Should I plow up my conservation buffer strips to plant more corn, or should I just include a few extra zucchini plants next spring in my garden?     Dazed and Confused in Dyersville
Dear Confused,
I’ve hung around the back forty long enough to detect an ironic zucchini reference when I see one. But I must say, your zucchini option is actually the smarter of the two. I allow only three zucchini plants in my garden, but by July we’re hauling zukes the size of army bazookas to the house. Zucchini quesadillas are great with enough jalapenos, but have you had zucchini pancakes? Three days in a row? I predict that by 2050, the world will be inundated with House of Zucchini franchises. I’m already working on a zucchini frappuccino.  By the way, cut back on the we-gotta-feed-nine-billion hand wringing. I’m confident we humans will get smart and solve hunger problems with a combination of increased production (thoughtfully pursued), prudent conservation (keep your buffer strips), elimination of waste (a third of our food production is squandered), and more efficient distribution of the food we already produce. On the other hand, I’m keeping plan B on the burner. Wanna invest in my House of Zucchini?  Doc
by dan gogerty, photos from and

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