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It has definitely been awhile since I churned out a blog post. I really only write when I stumble across a subject that is motivating enough, and boy did I find one this weekend.

So here is a bit of background. What has been happening more and more frequently is that marketing companies seem to think a great way to sell a food product is to make consumers afraid of the competition. Advertising media is produced containing information that sometimes is simply misleading and sometimes, blatant lies. This is called fear marketing and it has been on the rise in recent years.

Steven Novella

Anyone that knows me is well aware of my hatred for this type of marketing and my personal quest to be a voice against it because demonizing safe and beneficial technology hurts everyone. 4 years ago when I started blogging, there would be a very small number of farmers, ag industry people, educated consumers and scientists trying to stand up to these untruths by explaining what actually happens on a farm or in the lab, but our voices were always drown out by others accusing us of being “shills” or Monsanto employees. Just recently I feel that the tide may be changing.

Stonyfield, an organic yogurt company, decided to make a video about genetic engineering featuring children using words like ‘monstrous’ and talking about fish genes in a GMO tomato (there are no genetically engineered tomatoes on the market). It was in poor taste, as is much of the advertising in this space. The surprising thing this time was that consumers decided to tell the company just what they really thought. People came out in droves to demand transparency and integrity in the hopes that others would see the comments and begin to ask questions and seek out credible information.

Stonyfield made a weak attempt at an explanation for the video, which (not surprisingly) was filled with half-truths and falsehoods. Amazingly once again the comments were well informed and critical of the effort to ignore science. I jumped in and left a comment amongst the 1,100 others.

So what does a company like Stonyfield do when faced with valid customer concerns? Call the very REAL people trolls or fake profiles, delete the comments, and block the commenters of course. As is often the case, those creating fear in the customer base tend to view science and educated voices as the enemy. (Update; they have now deleted one entire post in an attempt to pretend this whole debacle never happened.)

The backlash to Stonyfield’s social media strategy has been swift. A group was started boasting the name Banned By Stonyfield with 700 members and growing. Together we drafted a letter addressing the issue which was published in Ag Daily (you can read it here).

Numerous blog posts have been written by farmers, scientists, and science communicators, all expressing condemnation and disappointment in the way Stonyfield handled this situation. I will update as I stumble across more.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest : https://cspinet.org/news/stonyfield-slammed-using-children-scare-consumers-about-%E2%80%9Cmonstrous%E2%80%9D-technology-20180126

Kevin Folta : http://kfolta.blogspot.ca/2018/01/stonyfield-actively-censors-science.html?m=1

The Mad Virologist: https://themadvirologist.blogspot.ca/2018/01/stonyfield-responds-to-consumers-by.html?m=1

The Farmers Daughter : http://www.thefarmersdaughterusa.com/2018/01/stonyfield-organic-gets-taken-task-anti-gmo-propaganda-video.html

Steven Novella : https://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/shameless-organic-fearmongering/#more-10547

Eclectic Science : https://medium.com/@EclecticScience/stonyfield-stories-a67419f3063e

The Farm Babe for Ag Daily: https://www.agdaily.com/insights/farm-babe-marketing-lies-send-stonyfields-credibility-into-tailspin/

American Council on Science and Health: https://www.acsh.org/news/2018/01/29/when-will-organic-movement-turn-sexist-gary-hirshberg-and-his-stonyfield-yogurt-12477

Company executives and marketing teams best take note, times are changing. Consumers want facts and science, not fear or feel good buzzwords. We make purchasing decisions based on trust and when you avoid ethical marketing and try to play on our fears that trust is broken.

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It is day 16 of Agriculture Month in Saskatchewan, and today’s post is from a FarmHer friend of mine, Julie-Anne Howe. She is a dairy gal turned cattlewoman, grain farmer and a growing bee farmer to boot.

Follow Julia-Anne on Twitter @JulieAnneHowe and check out her farm blog, Fit to Farm, here(ps. Her latest on sexual harassment in agriculture is really, really good).

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One thing that I love so much about farming and food production is the tie to nature, science and lifelong learning. Our farm is the ultimate classroom for my children. We farm South of Moose Jaw Saskatchewan; living and learning with nature. Our farm was established in 1950 by my husband’s grandparents and my children are the 4th generation of Howes living on the farm. We run 300 purebred Charolais and Red Angus Cows, about 2600 acres of grasslands, 1000 acres of grain land and…

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Sheri Pedersen is the guest author for day 14 of Agriculture Month in Saskatchewan. Sheri is a friend of mine in so many levels of agriculture – being a farmer herself. Have a read of what food means to her. I am sure you will find many commonalities!

Give Sheri a follow on Twitter @sheripeds and see more info on the annual Saskatchewan Cattlewomen’s Golf Tournament here. ……………………………………………………


Have you ever stop to consider how much time, energy and effort we put into our food? Think about it. We drive to the grocery store (for some this is a big deal), shop for groceries, prepare the meal, eat (always takes the least amount of time it seems), clean up and oh ya…the time it takes to think of what to prepare for the next meal (the thing that often takes me the most time). What if…..we didn’t need food?

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One of the most frequent questions I am asked as a rancheris, “What do you do in an average day?”. This is also the hardest question I am ever asked. You see, every day is sooooooo different for me! And I don’t just mean seasonally. Of course a normal day is different for every farmer in seeding vs harvest, or in calving vs weaning. But because I am the secondary rancher here, some days I do ranch work. Some days I am more of a stay at home mom. Some days Ifeel like I am a professional organizer of randomness. Any given day is atotal spin of the roulette wheel. So today I decided to track my day, and give each of you a real glimpse into my life.

(6:30am) Alarm goes off. I immediately grumble – no morning person here! I wake the kids and chat with hubby. Once…

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Jean does such a wonderful job of helping farmers be open and transparent about what we do. If you are in the AG industry listen to her, she knows what she is talking about!

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Day 12 of Agriculture Month in Saskatchewan brings us a guest post from Jean Clavelle. Jean is a friend of mine from University, she is a fellow Agro. I have had the opportunity to reconnected with her in the past few years with our work of communicating with consumers. I love her take on being mindful of the fact that we are indeed all consumers, whether we are farmers or not. Enjoy!!

Follow Jean on Twitter @ClavelleJean or check out her newly launched communications company, Magpie Marketing, here.

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Our Food Has a Story.There is a profound truth in that statement. Behind every bite is a business, an individual, a family, a history, a farm. Likewise, the food choices we make, tell their own narrative. Our decisions make an account of our economic status, our ideologies, our understanding of science and exposure to outside influences. Yes that’s right, the…

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Day 11 of Agriculture Month in Saskatchewan is exciting for me. Today’s author is Stuart Smyth, a researcher, educator and communicator – all about agricultural science. The reason that farmers and ranchers are able to do what we do, and raise what we raise, is due to those in research and education.

Follow Stuart on Twitter @stuartsmyth66 or check out his University of Saskatchewan profile here: http://www.usask.ca/research-groups/stuartsmyth/About%20Dr.%20Smyth/Profile.php

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As a professor in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan, there are two things that make my job one of the best in the world, sharing the results of farmer surveys and teaching farm kids.

I receive several invitations, national and international, each year to attend conferences or other events and give a presentation based on my research. Yet, the presentations I enjoy the most are the ones I give to Saskatchewan farmers. Farmers are incredibly savvy…

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It is day 10 of Agriculture Month in Saskatchewan. I have only had the pleasure of meeting today’s author, Shayla Hertz, once, but I have been awed and inspired by her mother, Alanna Koch for years. Like Shayla, I have also travelled the world, and also like her, I am proud of the amazing (and safe!) ways Saskatchewan raises and grows food. Enjoy!!!

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October is Agriculture Month, a time to celebrate something we are all connected to and by. Food.

Ag Month is about celebrating how food grown on farms gets to our tables, how this food is healthy and nutritious, how it’s affordable, how this food is safe, and how truly sustainable this food is. These are values everyone shares in Saskatchewan. These are values we are united by across the globe, people simply prioritize them differently.
This weekend is Thanksgiving. I’ll be with my family. Many are…

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Donna Stone is our guest author for day 8 of Agriculture Month in Saskatchewan. Donna and her family grain farm near Davidson. I love her story of the garden and the peace it brings her. I completely understand…. every part except the weeds! Ha!

Stay tuned later in the month to hear from her husband Rob and his food story.

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Hauling weeds
From as far back as I can remember, I have loved gardening. The smell of the freshly tilled soil, watching those tine seeds grow into beautiful plants and reaping the delicious rewards the garden produces. I even find pulling weeds relaxing and therapeutic. I love it all!

Canning Tomatoes
​I have learned a lot through gardening. Family stories and history were shared while I shelled peas with grandma or picked raspberries with grandpa. Plenty of “life lesson lectures” happened while my brother and I pulled weeds with…

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It’s day 7 of Agriculture Month, and my fellow blogger, Angela Jones has written this excellent guest post. Angela is a kindred soul, as she loves talking about agriculture and food as much as I do. I love so much about this post – be sure to give it a read!!

Give Angela a follow on FaceBookor give her blog, Agriculture Today, a read here.

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After discussing how to promote the #OurFoodHasAStory campaign with Adrienne, I decided to send her a short write up of my involvement with food to celebrate agriculture month in Saskatchewan. We have connected with one another through our shared passion of talking to consumers and telling the story of AG and I loved her idea!

I live in North East Saskatchewan with my husband Michael and two children; Brayden age 15 and Crandall age 11. My family has been farming Canadian soil…

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I have struggled to find the time and the inspiration to do a project for Agriculture month in Saskatchewan. A local farmer has gone to a lot of work to share farming stories from around our great province and I have decided that they need to be shared. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Find more great stories of AG by searching #OurFoodHasAStory

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October is here, so even more than falling leaves and harvest wrapping up, it means that it is officially Agriculture Month in Saskatchewan.

Agriculture month is a time dedicated to celebrating all things food and agriculture in Saskatchewan. Perhaps more important than the celebration of agriculture, Ag month is a time to bridge the gap between farmer and consumer. It is an open conversation about the amazing products that we raise and grow here, and how that food connects us all.

For me, agriculture month is the perfect opportunity to tell more of the story of what happens on our ranch. The story of the beef, oats and canola that ends up not only on my family’s table, but on each of yours as well. It is also a perfect time for me to help other farmers share their stories.

I have committed to filling this blog up for October…

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