Give Me a Break!

My Generation

In a world where it would be nice if we could just all get along, outrageous claims sometimes beget sarcasm. Lots of it.

Published on: January 25, 2011
I wanted to pass along a little video I came across today. And yes, I know it's two months old and yes, I'm just now seeing it. So perhaps you, too, have seen it already. Regardless, I think there are some good points to be made here.

First of all, it's John Stossel, the guy I grew up watching on 20/20 because it wasn't a Friday night in the Hinderliter household without 20/20, but apparently now he's on Fox Business. Again, I'm aware I'm behind. See previous paragraph.

Anyway. Stossel was reasonably famous for his "Give me a break" segments, where he took some group to task over some outrageous claim or waste of money or general worldly goofiness. Very often, he did it with his voice dripping with sarcasm, which, as you'll see in this video, he's still doing. Whether you like the dripping-with-sarcasm voice probably depends on which side of the debate you're on.

Check it out here, and in a new window, no less: Grass Fed Beef.

So here's the thing. For the record, I think every farmer should raise whatever he or she can make a profit on. If that's grass-fed beef on a hillside, go for it. If that's grain-fed beef in a feedlot, go for it. It's a free country. If someone is willing to pay you to do it and it's legal, then by all means, do so. My only beef is that the one side should not be marketing their product off the backs of the other. For instance, saying grass-fed is healthier for you and better for the environment than grain-fed beef. It's the "than" that's wrong in my book. It's a big claim. And in many cases, it's unsubstantiated. And it's doing no one in agriculture any good to divide ourselves and tear each other down in the name of marketing.

Of course, Food, Inc., is as responsible for that as anything. That movie spawned as many outrageous claims as it passed along. So now we have John Stossel taking a look at those claims and, voice-dripping-with-sarcasm, revealing they are a lot of hooey.

Will it make a difference? Will it settle the debate? Will this video, making the rounds again on the blogosphere, change any minds?

I'd like to think it will. I'd like to think it will make people more interested in learning facts from lovely, rational third-parties, like universities and real scientists. Not from, you know, say, Suzanne Somers.

But in the end, I'm a realist and I don't think it will settle anything. I think the best we can hope for is a more informed discussion. And a rational one.

Maybe even one where an actual animal scientist or an actual beef producer is actually asked what they think. Wouldn't that be something?