Challenging Conventional Wisdom Uncovers Deeper Truths

Challenging Conventional Wisdom Uncovers Deeper Truths

One of the jobs of UF/IFAS scientists is to challenge conventional wisdom. You don’t want to bet the ranch on something that only seems true. Facts, empirical evidence and data are a more solid foundation for the truth you need to make decisions about your herd, farm or grove.

 

For two reasons, I believe that the way our faculty challenges conventional wisdom is one of the greatest services that the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences team provides you.

 

First, challenging the conventional wisdom can reveal new insights about how to run a farm and even correct practices that impede efficiency and productivity. In addition, a scientific challenge to conventional wisdom can debunk your customers’ falsely held beliefs about what you do.

 

Here are three examples of how UF/IFAS agricultural scientists are challenging public perception that passes for conventional wisdom about what you produce and how you produce it.

 

The conventional wisdom around how eating red meat might increase your cardiovascular disease risk has been a matter of debate. Wendy Dahl of the UF/IFAS Food Science and Human Nutrition Department didn’t accept one recently proposed explanation. She found in a study of older women that a well-balanced, high-protein diet with beef for dinner did not increase the metabolite associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk. More research is needed, but her research demonstrates that if we just accept conventional wisdom, we risk missing out on deeper truths.

 

The conventional wisdom is that cattlemen feeding their animals too many antibiotics is causing all our beef-related antimicrobial resistance problems. Not so fast, says KC Jeong, a UF/IFAS animal sciences professor in the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute.

 

Jeong continues to do research that identifies antimicrobial resistance even in herds in which barely any antibiotics are used. He investigates how resistance can be a product of the environment, like in the soil and forage, and that management techniques can reduce the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance.

 

The conventional wisdom is that animal-source foods represent a sustainability problem. Gbola Adesogan and Geoff Dahl (no relation to Wendy) were honored at our research awards in May for their work in reframing this paradigm.

 

Negative impacts of animal-source foods on planetary health are overstated, say Dahl and Adesogan. Animal-source foods are a sustainability solution, as they help meet U.N. sustainability goals. Dahl and Adesogan document in their work in Africa and Asia that the introduction of small amounts of animal-source protein into the diets of infants around the world substantially reduces malnutrition that often leads to stunting or worse.

 

I don’t want to see kids starve because of conventional wisdom that’s not solidly grounded in evidence. I don’t want consumers blaming you alone for antimicrobial resistance if there are many sources and causes. I don’t even want you to rely on UF/IFAS science if it’s decades old and needs to be validated under today’s conditions.

 

That’s why we continually strive to update our findings. I appreciate the support for UF/IFAS science that we get from Hillsborough and Polk growers and agricultural leaders. It strengthens our resolve to find the truth, even when that search challenges what we believe to be the truth.

 

  1. Scott Angle is the University of Florida’s Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources and leader of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).

 

Learn more about this science:

Wendy Dahl: https://tinyurl.com/nv95p696

KC Jeong: https://tinyurl.com/62c4ra83

Gbola Adesogan and Geoff Dahl: https://tinyurl.com/2by78b6t

Or Ask IFAS at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/