As we head into 2016, we’d like to look back at the best performing posts of 2015.  All week, we’ll repost the articles you liked best!  Enjoy!!


Dear Every American Who Doesn’t Believe in Science:

I know you are smart.  I know you care about your kids, your family, your pets.  I know you are a basically decent human being who wants to do right and contribute to society.  And because I know these things, I’m going to try very hard to understand why you refuse to believe in scientific fact, rather than berate you and call you names.

But I still really don’t get it.

GMO foodsI wish we could sit down and talk.  I wish I could explain my views without you getting defensive.  I wish you could show me your proof without the hair standing up on the back of my neck.  So I’ll admit – we both have a problem.  We both are talking to answer, not having a conversation to listen.

The funny thing is, I actually think I’m reasonably good at seeing the other side of any issue.   There are a few issues where I struggle, but even then, if I’m honest with myself, I can intellectually understand the other side of the issue and why my friend or colleague has positioned himself on that side.

Regarding immunizations and genetically modified organisms, I can’t.

Yes, I view these two issues – though they are definitely in different industries – as intertwined.  Why?  Because the people who are anti either of them have a blatant disregard for science and I just don’t understand that.

Scientific consensus on both of these issues is that both are safe.  Immunizations are safe for the vast majority of people.  GMOs are safe for everyone.

Do you understand what scientific consensus is, my friend?  That means that most of the scientists (maybe even those who don’t usually agree) believe the safety of GMOs and immunizations to be fact.  It’s beyond dispute.  The data has proven safety beyond a shadow of a doubt so that scientists no longer squabble over this issue.

There is also scientific consensus on gravity.  That the Earth is round.  That germs spread disease.  That atoms exist.

Friend, do you question these truths as well?

The thing is, science is fact.  And while there may be outliers that disagree that the Earth is round, why are you so quick to take up with the outliers that believe GMOs are bad?  If you ran into a scientist who believed the Earth was flat, wouldn’t you think he was a quack?  And when that same doctor believes GMOs are bad, why do you believe him?

I think it must be because buying organic has become a status symbol for you.  You are buying boutique food and making all the other parents feel bad about it.  Which, if true, proves another point for another day – that maybe we never really leave junior high.

Your crusade to eliminate vaccines – is it the same sort of status symbol?  I just can’t cognitively understand anything else.

In fact, here’s a question I’ve been dying to ask and I promise to listen intently: do you deny your children life-saving vaccines and still use birth control?  Do you buy organic produce and hormone free meats and still believe in plastic surgery?  Do you use an iPhone or a computer?  Why are some of these technologies demonized and others celebrated?

Let’s talk, you and I.  I have gotten to a point where I really need to understand why you disregard science.  Because even if your viewpoints are too solidly held to change, I have to be sure I understand how this happened and do everything I can to stop it.

Who knows what unscientific nonsense my grandchildren will face?

Lindsay Mitchell 11/14Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director


It’s no secret that myths surround the food industry, most of which circulate on the internet. As a consumer, it’s important to know the facts.

  1. Red meat is not a carcinogen. Despite the myths recently circulating on the internet, no single food has ever been linked to cancer. This includes red meat. So rest easy, and continue munching on that crunchy piece of bacon or delicious bite of Sirloin steak.
  1. Antibiotics are not in your food. Antibiotics are only used to cure or treat an animal that is sick or diseased. The antibiotic-free campaign is not only harmful but also inhumane because it denies sick and dying animals the right to medical treatment. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) strictly monitors antibiotic use in livestock and enforces strict withdrawal periods to ensure no antibiotic traces can be found in our food system.


  1. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not evil. GMOs are the most widely tested crop on the market, and there is no scientific evidence proving that GMOs pose any sort of health risk. And ultimately, we need GMOs.
  1. Genetically modified (GM) wheat does not exist. There are only two methods used to produce new varieties of wheat: conventional crossing and introduction of genes native to modern-day wheat. “No GM wheat is commercially grown in the United States,” confirmed by the USDA.
  1. Everyone needs to beef up. That’s right. Lean beef deserves a place on your plate and is included in the best diets, developed by nutritional experts. Consuming protein more than once a day is also encouraged and has proven beneficial to overall health.
  1. Your food wasn’t produced on a factory farm. ‘Large corporations control farms in the United States and animals are raised in crowded, inhumane conditions.’ This is a common rumor, spread much too often in the farming industry. However the truth is, 97% of farms are family-owned and operated.


  1. “No Sugar Added” and “Sugar-Free” isn’t a guarantee. These claims are often plastered on the boxes of our favorite sweets, but that doesn’t mean they are healthier. No sugar added and sugar-free products can still contain natural sugar and carbohydrate.
  1. “Free Range” isn’t the picture in your head. Most consumers picture chickens running free through the green fields of wide, open spaces. But in reality, the only requirement for a “free range” label is that the poultry “has been allowed access to the outside.” Cage-free, free-range, and organic are common buzzwords found on egg cartons utilized by the advertising industry.
  1. “Gluten-Free” is a dangerous trend. Whole grains, unlike gluten-free products, contain fiber and other nutrients that are essential to a healthy diet. Switching to a gluten-free diet can do more harm than good if you do not have celiac disease, a wheat allergy, or any other medical reason to reduce gluten intake.
  1. 10. Calories count. Many were outraged by the story of the man who lost 56 pounds on a strict McDonald’s diet for a straight six months. How could he do this when McDonald’s is supposed to be so unhealthy? Weight loss isn’t what you eat but rather how much you eat, say experts.

carli millerCarli Miller
University of Illinois


This post was originally posted last year on November 13th, and it is the perfect time for a poultry refresher.

turkeysWith Thanksgiving right around the corner, I wanted to let you in on the Grocer’s Turkey secrets! Popular to common belief, not all turkeys are created equal and not all consumers are educated before making their poultry decisions! Before you purchase your prized bird for your family feast, make sure you know these 6 turkey labels to look for!

AntibioticFreeMeatNo Antibiotics: This term signifies a producer’s demonstration of animals being raised without antibiotics. However, whether or not the bird was fed antibiotics, there is a law that the animals must go through a “withdrawal” to allow traces of antibiotics to leave the turkey before it is slaughtered, to ensure the complete absence of antibiotic residues in the bird. So whether your label reads “No Antibiotics” or not, come time to eat, your bird will not contain any antibiotics.

No hormones in poultry porkNo Hormones: Producers use this term to trick you into thinking that other turkeys that are not their brand are filled with nasty hormones. FALSE! By lawHormones are not allowed in raising hogs or poultry. In order to even use the “No Hormones” label, it must be followed by the statement “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.”

So far we have learned that ALL turkeys in the grocery stores are able to be served up at your Thanksgiving Day feast without any antibiotics or hormones, thanks to the laws in place.

  • Three other labeling tactics are the Organic, Natural, and Free range labels.

Organic uses those generic No Hormone, No Antibiotic labels, as well as labels that express that their turkeys will have been raised organically on certified organic land that has outdoor access and fed certified organic feed. This is nice except for the fact that although they have access to the outdoors, how many turkeys actually get outside? For this Organic label you will likely be paying 6X more at the grocery store.

Organic pricing


All NaturalNatural: Natural was the most truthful label I have seen so far. Natural means minimally processed and contains no artificial ingredients. The turkeys are fed animal by-products, which wild turkeys are accustomed to. No notation of the diets or living conditions is needed for this label.

Free RangeFree Range is another deceptive label. Free Range labeling does not require a producer to have a set allowance of outdoor time in the wind and sun, the minimum requirement that they have is to have outdoor access (sound familiar).  Being labeled “Free Range” does not necessarily mean better or worse living conditions.

So what have we learned? As you can see marketing ploys are all over your Thanksgiving packaging, from how the turkeys are raised to what is in the meat you purchase. This Thanksgiving make sure you are educated about your purchases and if you have farming friends, ASK questions or ask right here in the comments! These labels are out there to make money, not to tell consumers the truth! Don’t be fooled by marketing this season.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at IL Corn!

amy k

Amy Kuhlmann
Illinois State University


Grocery List1.Plan Ahead

Looking ahead to what you have planned for the coming week can make meal preparation a breeze. Be sure to plan meals that will fit your schedule, lifestyle, and health goals accordingly.

Below is a link to a printable list with common items needed on a grocery store visit.

2.Create Your List to Fit Your Grocery Store

This may take some time to get the hang of if you have recently switched a new store. Once you are familiar with the layout of your go to grocery store, arrange your list so that your first few items will be found first and your last items are towards the back of the store. This can not only save time, but also keeps you from getting distracted by unneeded items and can keep you within your budget!

3.Check The Local Paper For Coupons and Sales

Taking a few short minutes to go through your local paper in order to find sales and coupons for your favorite grocery store can help you stick to your budget however you should be sure to stick to only the necessary items to avoid overspending!

bag of money4.Set A Budget For The Weekly Groceries

Setting a budget for the necessities and a few treats can help you from overspending and also helps you stick to your dietary goals without adding unnecessary junk foods.

The link below gives 10 great tips to sticking to your grocery budget!

5.Skip The Organic

With today’s media hype and fast food chains such as Chipotle capitalizing on Non-GMO or Organic Only advertisement, it is easy to assume that these foods are healthier. Organic foods have never been proven to be healthier or more environmentally safe. In fact, many GMO foods have added nutritional value and use fewer pesticides than their organic counterparts. Skip, the organic and take the savings by buying GM foods!

The link below helps bust some of the common myths surrounding organic foods and is a great quick read!

6.Plan Your Grocery Store Trip On A Specific Day and Time

Looking over shopping cart at motion-blurred supermarket aisleThe link below has some great tips and tricks on when to plan your trip to the grocery store. Finding out when fresh items are brought in, going when the best deals are available, and going after a meal are just a few examples in this great post!

derek rappDerek Rapp
Illinois State University


I’m not a scientist and I would never pretend to be one.  But, I do have a science degree and I do work in a particularly science-heavy industry, so I feel like I know a few basic things about common science and science.

Which is why it angers me and saddens me that our world today consists of millions of people who will believe anything they read as law without questioning it first.  They could be reading the opinions of a five-year old on nuclear weapons and suddenly, that five-year old should be the next Secretary of State – or at least the head of the U.S. Army.  Or maybe a housewife with too much time on her hands has created the next fad diet that will melt away the weight with only toilet paper and kosher meals as seen on Orange is the New Black – and suddenly everyone is eating kosher and pretending to be Jewish.

Either way, I’ve come up with a few questions to ask yourself when you’re reading something new.  These are meant to simply help you question the validity of everything you read and to get the thoughts flowing – they will not determine fact and fiction for you.  Only your amazing God-given brain will do that.

  1. Who is the author of this article/research/data?

Anything that you read that causes you to consider changing any aspect of your life bears some amount of research into the author.

who is the authorIs the author an honest-to-goodness expert in this area with an advanced degree?  Is the advanced degree in a related field to the information they are sharing?  (Don’t listen to a Ph.D. in Journalism tell you about Engineering and think she’s an authority!)  Does the author work for someone other than themselves?  Is their employer a reputable source?

Before you cut all red fruits and veggies from your diet, google the name of the person telling you to do that.  If that person isn’t a registered dietitian for a reputable company or a food scientist from a serious university, you probably need to investigate further.

2. Does the article/advice make sense given what you already know?

This particular pointer falls into the “Is it too good to be true” category.  No one is going to lose 50 pounds in 1 week using this quick and easy tip.  No one is going to single-handedly change the course of human history by eliminating this from their schedule.

does the article make senseIf the lifestyle changes you’re considering making don’t fit within the framework of what you already remember from grade school science, then you should probably look further.

As an example, there is a movement supporting raw milk these days.  The folks that feed their families only raw milk are ignoring basic science and history that I know they learned in fourth grade.  Heating milk to kill pathogens is healthy.  The end.  If drinking raw milk promises you all sorts of health benefits with none of the risks of Listeria, then it’s too good to be true.  It just is.

3. What does the rest of the industry say about this advice/information?

If you’re reading about vaccines, what do all other medical professionals say about this advice?  If you’re considering a new exercise plan, what do other personal trainers and physical therapists say about this plan?  If you’re worried about the latest food borne illness scare and considering swearing off fruits and veggies, what does the ag industry and the nutritionists and dietitians say about this food borne illness occurrence?

I understand that those of you with a tendency to believe everything you read have a natural hesitation to accept the advice of the industries you’re reading about.  You have a natural inclination to be skeptical.  But be skeptical of what you read too.

If farmers, who have been farming for decades and whose families have been farming for a century, tell you that an article is not true, it probably isn’t.  If a doctor with a real medical degree advises you that the medical community agrees on this course of treatment, trust that to a certain degree.

Even if you don’t 100% believe what the related industry is telling you, hearing their opinion is important to developing a more rounded view of the data you’re considering.

At the end of the day, just use your brain.

keep calm use your brainI know that reading and understanding scientific articles can be difficult and no fun.  Scientists are not skilled journalists and their writing is not always easily understood or very clearly written.  But you don’t have to dig through research journals to figure everything out.

Use your brain.  You know what sounds too good to be true.  You know what seems like complete medical quackery.  Listen to the body of experts around you.  Do a little research.  Remember, not everything on the internet is true.

Mitchell_LindsayLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Manager

You might also be interested in this article:



Chicago moms tour Monsanto to learn about GMO foods

In April, I was invited to take a tour of the Monsanto research facility in Chesterfield, MO with a group of City Moms from Illinois Farm Families. I was thrilled! I feel like the general public mostly hates Monsanto these days. You hate them because you think they are an evil empire trying to coerce farmers into using only their seed. Or you hate them because you think GMOs are going to make us all sick. I just wanted to know why they do what they do, what motivates them to keep going when they get such negative press and why people seem to hate them more than love them.

monsantoHere’s a crazy thing that I found out: They make their products because it helps farmers and the farmers ask for it. Shocking, I know. Monsanto makes something that is helping, not hurting? Monsanto is making something that farmers want and continue to buy year after year? That’s not the media portrayal these days!

Through my farm visits with Illinois Farm Families, I’ve met multiple farmers who tell me that Monsanto is just one of many companies trying to sell seed. Some buy from them, some don’t. No one feels like they are pressured to use Monsanto seed – they shop for seed the way we shop for things. What fits this year, what’s going to give me the most bang for my buck (well, maybe that’s just how I shop for a shirt; I’ve never been a farmer shopping for seed). Some use a portion of Monsanto seed and then use seed from other companies, too. They use the seed that works best for their farms. They want something that keeps insects from eating and ruining their crops so they can get paid for their harvest. They want a product that allows them to spend less time spraying and weeding, helps minimize soil erosion and uses less chemicals (you heard me correctly; farmers are using LESS chemicals now than ever before thanks to advances in technology across the farm with seed, soil testing and electronics).

ILFarmFamiliesThat’s right; Monsanto seed allows farmers to spend less time worrying about some of these negative things and more time harvesting a healthy crop that ends up on our table. That’s not so bad, is it?

If you want to take a peek into the world of Monsanto, their doors are open to you, too! Just call to make an appointment for a tour and they will very happily walk you through so you can educate yourself on why they do what they do. Then, you can make the choice on if you love them or hate them based on your own experience, not just what you might be reading or hearing about them.

Travel expenses within St. Louis and lunch courtesy of Monsanto.

Jill Thurmond
Deer Park, IL

Jill is one of the Illinois Farm Families 2014 Field Moms. Throughout the year she visits Illinois farms to learn more about where food comes from. Following each visit, the Field Moms share their thoughts by blogging about what they experience on these farms. Want to learn more? Read Our Story: Chicago Moms Meet Farmers. (City Moms formerly knows as Field Moms.)

This article originally posted at


1. Read only biased news sources

To really misunderstand modern food production, it is essential that you only read Mother Earth News, Natural News, and whatever links your local natural chiropractor shares on Facebook.  Absolutely do not read anything that might pass as a reputable news source – scientific journals, census data, peer-reviewed studies and all papers from state Universities are strictly off-limits.

GMO foods

2. Believe everything you’ve read without questioning

organicstampWhatever tidbit you’ve gleaned about food production, food sources, farmers, or labels, believe that tidbit as law and do not read or think any further.  Once you believe you understand something fully, there simply is no room for questioning.

3. Refuse to engage in meaningful dialogue

If someone – who may even call themselves a professional or an expert on the subject – wants to talk further about your beliefs, refuse.  There’s not enough time in the day to talk about what you already know – especially with someone who disagrees with you.

4. Call anyone who disagrees with you a shill and question their integrity

And lets face it – if they disagree with you, they are likely paid by Big Ag or Big Food.  There’s absolutely no way that anyone with half a brain cell could ever disagree with you.  Call them a shill and don’t speak to them again.  And if you can throw out a personal bomb like maybe suggesting that they don’t even love their children and wish them dead, all the better.


5. Forget everything you ever learned in eighth grade science

If you really want to misunderstand conventional food production, you’ll need to forget everything you knew about basic science.  No room for plant biology, genetics, DNA, or how things grow in this debate.  You’ll want to remain as ignorant as possible on all things science – including scientific consensus.  Especially scientific consensus.  Also, doubt scientists and their motivations – for more on this, see number 4.


Obviously this post is sarcastic and obviously I pray that no one follows my five easy rules.

The fact is, advocating for farmers and modern food production is exhausting.  I’m tired of seeking out meaningful conversations and getting NaturalMama news stories as proof of an incorrect viewpoint.  I’m tired of being attacked as an idiot (or a shill, GASP!) and being asked to suspend basic scientific knowledge while I attempt to cognitively understand where the other person is coming from.

If you happen to be a person reading this who seeks to engage in meaningful debate while looking to science and unbiased data for answers, here are the places you can start:

The Food Dialogues by U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance

Watch Us Grow by Illinois Farm Families

The Adventures of Dairy Carrie by Carrie Mess

Farm Hats – a Facebook group with tons of farmer selfies from real farmers

And, of course, you can email me with any question, any time.  I LOVE a great debate and a differing viewpoint, but please – for the love of all that is holy – don’t call me a shill.

Mitchell_LindsayLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Manager
AND farmer’s daughter!


7-10-15 GMO LABELINGWe want consumers to know what is in their food and to understand what it means. But what we don’t want is consumers to fear food based on poor marketing tactics. The safety of GMOs is firmly established by the scientific community and health organizations, therefore people should not fear them.

Chuck Spencer of GROWMARK, was quoted in AgWired yesterday. Spencer says GROWMARK is supporting the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act in the House that would create a uniform national food labeling standard for products made with genetically modified organisms. “We understand that consumers want to know more about their food and we need to be increasingly transparent,” explains Spencer. “The National Organic Standard administered by the USDA is a wonderful example of a voluntary program that is nationally consistent and recognized. We feel it could be put to use in that same framework, that USDA could have a non-GMO standard, and it would be a voluntary framework just like the organic standard.”


GMOs and biotechnology are among the most asked about topics on Recently, a group of IFF City Moms, who have toured Illinois farms and wanted to ask additional questions about Monsanto, were given the opportunity to visit their Biotechnology Research Center. The tour was provided by IFF,  with additional support from the Illinois Corn Marketing Board.  Here is one mom’s take on the tour and the experience.

On April 25th, I was fortunate enough to tour Monsanto’s research center in St. Louis, Missouri, with a group of Mom’s dedicated to learning about food and farming. We boarded a plane early in the morning, and hit the ground running. I was a nervous wreck…not just because I hate to fly, but also because I felt intimidated, and I felt overwhelmed at the prospect of the million different questions that were bouncing around my head. I was worried that even if we asked the truth, we wouldn’t get it, it would be smoke and mirrors in an attempt to appease our concerns.

I am happy to report…..I was WRONG. Much to my surprise, they were MORE than transparent, and they answered our questions with incredible knowledge of fact, incredible displays of science, and incredible rebuttal to fiction. I left,feeling more overwhelmed than ever, but now, it was because nearly every argument I had set out to have, had been laid to rest. And really, who likes admitting that they’re wrong?? Certainly, not  ME.

So, where do I start ? How do I begin trying to educate my readers on a topic as hot and explosive as biotechnology ?? How do I break it down to its basics, in hopes that you will keep reading ? Willing to put your opinions aside ? As many have expressed, quite loudly, when I signed up for this tour, I had sold my soul to the devil. I assure, I have done no such thing. I went with an open mind, and I listened, and I talked, and I learned. I sat before four incredibly intelligent women, also Mothers, give me the facts on GMO technology. I set aside my pre conceived notions and embraced the science behind the madness. I went in with a willingness to get both sides of the story. And guess what I heard ? I heard the things no one talks about on the internet, the things that no one reads (even though they ARE out there….check out ) I learned answers to questions I was afraid to ask, I learned that ever so valuable lesson, that NOT everything you read on the internet is true. Who knew?

Our Q & A Panel

SO…let’s get down to brass tacks….shall we ?

What exactly ARE GMO’s ?? Those in the field, prefer the term biotechnology, but tomato, tomAHto…..In essence, GMO’s in plant agriculture in the most basic of terms, means intentionally taking a gene for a trait you want or need from one plant and inserting it into another. Are you asking yourself  BUT WHY ? I did…..and the answer was both complex and simple at its core. It all boils down to what’s best for the farmer : Farmer’s select GMO’s to aid in things such as pest control (this means LESS pesticide is sprayed topically, which means less drift, less use, less impact), GMO’s help to protect from extreme drought, disease and they also allow a farmer to plant more food on less usable soil. Remember, only 1/4 of the Earth has available land and 1/2 of THAT is unusable. So more for less, goes a long way. GM crops also help a farmer with soil conservation by allowing to take a no – till approach, this is important because it takes over 100 years to create 1 inch of topsoil. It simply cannot afford to be lost.

There are only eight crops that are available from GMO seed : Field corn, Canola, Soybean, Alfalfa, Cotton, Sugar beets, Sweet corn, Summer squash and Rainbow papaya. My favorite little factoid ?? Without biotechnology, the papaya would be EXTINCT…no more…gone forever….and I don’t know about you, but man….I would MISS IT. Eating a ripe papaya is like taking a mini tropical vacation with each bite.

GM cotton

You see, genetically modified crops have been around long before a scientist ever thought of gene insertion. 10,000 years ago, yes 10,000….humans began crop domestication using selective breeding, Every fruit, vegetable and grain that is commercially available has been altered by human hands. EVEN ORGANIC. How about that ??

And in the 1700’s farmers and scientists began cross-breeding plants within a species Without crop domestication, Brussels sprouts, Romanesco cabbage, Broccoli, Kale and Bok Choy would not be available for our dinner plates, as these all are genetic relatives of wild cabbage !! It has always been done. It’s just that now, it’s done more precisely.

I truly could go on and on, but at the risk of boring you to tears, I won’t. I promise.

I asked many of you, what questions do you want answered ? And the question that came up most was… ARE THEY SAFE ??

The simple answer….Y E S.

The more complex one: Biotech crops are the same as their non – GM buddies !! Nutritionally as well as broken down to its most basic structures. GMO foods have been in the marketplace for 17 years. They have been found, through repeated testing to be NO different from their NON GM counterparts. GM crops are subjected to more testing than any other new crop variety, therefore, we know more about them than any other crops that have been developed over the past few CENTURIES. GM crops are assessed by two, and sometimes three Federal agencies: the FDA, USDA and EPA. They don’t reach your grocery cart until they have been deemed safe and nutritious.

So, what does biotechnology hold for the future?

It has been demonstrated that this technology can increase the amount and stability of pro-vitamin A, iron and zinc and improve the digestibility of sorghum. What is so important about that ? It is anticipated to benefit Africans who rely upon sorghum, which is normally deficient in key nutrients.

Another example ? Golden Rice.

Golden Rice is another biotech crop which is nutritionally improved. The amount of beta carotene has been increased and could provide half the daily required provide HALF the required pro-vitamin A for a 1 to 3-year-old child. That can save lives.

But the most important example ?? Biotechnology can help us meet the growing demand for food, despite the influences of drought, poor soil, and B U G S. More full bellies.

To me, helping to produce more food, and improve the crops that those in developing countries rely upon, well, that has the power to change the World.

That is worth its weight in science !!

I encourage each of you to read , to research, to ask honest questions and open your mind to honest answers. The future truly is now.

Check it out:

Travel expenses within St. Louis and lunch courtesy of Monsanto.

Originally posted on Three Little Birds and One Messy Nest.

Katie Grossart
Chicago, IL