An Urban's Rural View

My Admittedly Unusual Pledge to Readers

Urban C Lehner
By  Urban C Lehner , Editor Emeritus
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(DTN photo by Urban Lehner)

No animals were harmed in the writing of this column -- at least as far as I know.

Silly statement? Yeah, sure. But how much sillier is it, really, than some of the claims made on food labels -- the non-GMO orange juice, the gluten-free popcorn, the zero-calorie seltzer water?

A lot of food labeling these days is downright misleading. It boasts of the absence of things no one should have suspected of being present. In some cases, the label implies that other brands of similar products may contain the dreaded thing. In others, it implies that a perfectly safe thing is unsafe.

So who's being silly here, me or them? Let's talk this over.

You: There's no reason to assume animals are ever harmed in the writing of anything. So why are you making this ridiculous claim?

Me: There's no such thing as genetically engineered oranges, either. So why would an orange-juice company tout its product as GMO-free?

You: Yes, but the manufacturer could have added a genetically engineered sweetener.

Me: Well, I could have snarfed down a pork cutlet just before I began writing. In fact, I had a bowl of strawberries and ice cream. I trust the ice cream came from milk from a cow that wasn't abused, though I can't guarantee that, which is why I've qualified my pledge. But what if I'd actually devoured that pork cutlet?

You: Well, maybe some consumers don't know there are no genetically engineered oranges; the company has to tell them. No consumer thinks a slab of meat would have anything to do with a column.

Me: Shouldn't the label have a "No Oranges Are GMO" disclaimer, then? As for the slab of meat, in a recent guest commentary in the University of Missouri Columbian, Missouri farmer Blake Hurst credited the steak he had for lunch with making his writing possible….

I think he had a point. Writing is work, work requires energy, energy requires food. Perhaps it isn't so silly to wonder if some poor pig sacrificed his life to make my column possible. I have been known to indulge in the occasional pork cutlet.

Besides, why should companies tout food as non-GMO, which implies GMOs are something to be avoided, when the weight of the scientific evidence says they're harmless? Why all the emphasis on gluten-free when studies suggest that only the small percentage of the population with celiac disease need really be concerned about gluten?

You: Because some customers care about these things, and the customer is always right.

Me: You definitely have a point there. By the way, you might be interested in a refrigerator magnet I bought recently. It shows an attractive young woman wearing an outfit right out of the 1950s. She's holding snap peas and saying, "I don't eat meat, dairy, processed food, gluten, fat or carbs. I subsist entirely on self-righteousness."

You: Now that's silly.

Urban Lehner can be reached at



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