This month’s issue of National Geographic arrived in mailboxes (yes, those still exist) covering a pretty heated topic: The War on Science. You can dig into their feature online, which covers everything from the anti-vaccination movement to fear of “GMOs” or food biotechnology. In the spirit of the NatGeo exploration of the War on Science, we’re digging into key issues of the War on Food Science whether it’s about agricultural production, ingredients, or nutrition.
This week, we’re going to accentuate the positive in the War on (Food) Science: its warriors! It can be pretty easy to get discouraged flipping on the news or opening your Facebook feed to find confused or misportrayed science. But more and more, there are great places and people to turn to for the straight science on controversial food issues. There are many, many scientists and science communicators that we love, but we’re starting with a few who have taken on some of the issues we’ve covered. Here we profile six of our favorite Warriors for Science, who are out on the front lines, righting wrongs.
Follow them to make your feed a little less crazy-making.
Dr. Kevin Folta, the Face of Ag Tech
In a nutshell: Kevin is a professor and chairman of the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida, Gainesville.
Why we love him: We recently came across Kevin’s writing in a blog post about the “Food Babe” lecturing at his university. We love his science communication, and it’s even more satisfying to see the passion (and sometimes the righteous fury) he brings to it.
Topics of choice: Kevin focuses on where your food comes from, especially technologies that help us “make better food with less input.”
Kevin Klatt, the Student Becomes the Master
In a nutshell: Kevin is a PhD student in molecular nutrition at Cornell. His background is in “biological anthropology” which is one of the cooler things we’ve ever heard.
Why we love him: The breadth of issues that Kevin covers with expertise is incredible – from weight loss to nutrients to ingredients and biotechnology, Kevin weaves together the science and weeds out the nonsense.
Topics of choice: If it impacts your diet (or if someone has said that it does), you’ll find a clear explanation of the scientific take on it by Kevin.
Where to watch: Definitely make a point to follow his blog, Nutrevolve, which covers timely food science and nutrition issues. Check out his Twitter feed, @Nutrevolve, but be sure to click “with replies,” because some of our favorite Kevin content comes from his informed discussions with other nutrition experts on the latest news.
Dr. C.S. Prakash, the Self-Described “Peacenik for GMOs”
In a nutshell: Dr. Prakash is a professor of plant genetics, biotechnology and genomics at Tuskegee University in Alabama.
Why we love him: Dr. Prakash knows biotechnology incredibly well and he makes it come alive, even for non-experts. As a bonus, he’s done great work with international partnerships and brings a global perspective when discussing important technology like golden rice. Not to mention, he uses some of our favorite visual aids.
Topics of choice: All things biotechnology: the science, the impact, and the perceptions.
Dr. John Coupland, the Science Teacher for Grown-Ups
In a nutshell: John Coupland, PhD, is a food science professor and chair of the Ingredients as Materials Impact Group at Penn State University.
Why we love him: As a science communicator, this Brit is too legit to quit. His takes on food trends and topics in pop culture help readers de-mystify technologies that improve our food. Dr. Coupland is also a master at putting risk in perspective. Check out his treatment of so-called “toxic” ingredients in beer.
Topics of choice: The name of his blog, “Chemicals in My Food,” says it all. It’s food science, with a focus on ingredients.
Amber Pankonin, RD, the Nutrition Realist
In a nutshell: Amber is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who muses on food, nutrition science, and agriculture.
Why we love her: Amber is a great example of an RD who doesn’t change directions with the wind: She investigates new trends, from paleo to coconut oil to gluten-free, based on the science, offering her audience tried and true guidance.
Topics of choice: Nutrition, including some solid myth-busting and real-world recipes.
Kavin Senapathy, the Science Sword-Wielder
In a nutshell: Kavin works in genomics and bioinformatics R&D and is a freelance writer, science-advocate, mom, and social media maven.
Why we love her: When we saw Kavin’s profile picture on Facebook—a cartoon version of herself wielding a mighty sword labeled “science”—we knew we were in the right place. Kavin takes on pseudoscience in all its forms with her wry wit and commanding knowledge of the science, but she always keeps it respectful.
Topics of choice: From pink Himalayan sea salt to parenting, Kavin runs the gamut in her articles and social media posts. But topics that involve genetics (like food biotech) are clearly her favorites.
Where to watch: Join in the lively discussions on her Facebook page or follow her on Twitter at @ksenapathy. And don’t miss her pieces for The Genetic Literacy Project or Skepchick! If you like her no-nonsense science communication style, you might be a “Senapath” too.