This week, social media is on fire about a poll that allegedly found 38 per cent of Americans would not drink Corona beer because of the corona virus.
The implication is that about 280 of 737 beer-drinking Americans who participated in the poll aren’t bright enough to dissociate the beer with the virus.
That’s kind of funny, or sad, depending on your perspective. But don’t despair … it turns out the reporting is inaccurate.
In the poll, four per cent – not 38 per cent – said they’d stop drinking Corona because of the corona virus. The 38 per cent figure stemmed from respondents saying they “would not buy Corona under any circumstances now.”
That included the fact that they don’t like the taste of it, not that they associate it with the virus.
I suspect some of those respondents don’t like Corona because they’ve had the same experience as me – Corona, in its clear glass bottle, seems to go skunky more easily than other beers because of exposure to ultraviolet light.
When it’s fresh and stored properly, it’s good. But if not, it’s offensive, just like any other beer that goes skunky.
The whole debacle will be forgotten soon. However, the damage done to Corona could be significant. And even if 30-ish poll respondents think there’s a connection between the beer and the virus, that’s too many. Overall, it shows once again the need for greater agriculture and food literacy among consumers of all types.
This week kicks off Canadian Agricultural Literacy Month. It’s driven by the Agriculture in the Classroom organization, and as such, it’s mainly aimed at students. But we could all take a chapter from it.
Says Connie Tamoto, Cargill’s senior manager of corporate responsibility for Canada: “Agriculture is how we will energize the next generation of leaders.”
Let’s hope so, and let’s hope leaders everywhere are energized. Because we and our neighbours to the south aren’t the only ones trying to figure out what’s going on in agriculture and food, and how it’s produced.
For example, in Switzerland, a referendum is underway to, in its words, ‘ensure clean drinking water and healthy foods.’
That sounds innocent enough.
But many in the agriculture sector are calling it an anti-farmer initiative. If passed, it would restrict farmers’ ability to receive government subsidies if they use pesticides and preventative antibiotics, and if they feed their animals grain that comes from someone else’s farm.
This is huge to Swiss farmers. Many have only a few cattle and receive subsidies so they can stay small, for tourism purposes. Visitors come to see cattle here and there on the mountainside, not in a feedlot. It’s part of their culture.
However, farmers also need to control pests and disease, which is where pesticides come in. They don’t always have enough land to grow their own grain. Or sometimes a whole region can suffer from a crop failure, particularly given how volatile the climate has become, and farmers need to purchase their grain elsewhere.
People who think farmers can survive in a bubble without protecting their crops and animals are misinformed or are being misled.
But without some measure of agricultural literacy, without knowing what’s realistic on the farm and what’s isn’t, out-of-touch scenarios can gain steam. That’s especially true when social media is the engine.
People should have a choice. If enough of them want to pay a premium and buy food grown or raised in a certain way, no problem. Some farmers will rise to the occasion and provide it, as long as they’re paid for the extra costs it takes to produce it.
Imposing restrictions on everyone, though, is not necessary, and assumes the current food production system is skewered. It’s not.