|“Academic papers are not dead.”
Carl Winter’s slogan about eating is not as dire as it seems. As a matter of fact, anyone who meets this 2012 winner of the Borlaug CAST Communication Award
soon realizes the man doesn’t know the meaning of negativity. However, he wants consumers to understand the realities of nutrition and food safety, and he is willing to use his talents–from respected academic researcher to crowd-pleasing musician–in order to get his message across.
“People need to keep eating fruits and vegetables,” Dr. Winter continually stresses. “And false information can scare the public so they end up not eating nutritious food.” A food science specialist from the University of California–Davis, Winter emphasizes the importance of scientific research. “The academic paper is not dead. It gives us the groundwork and credible facts. If you don’t have the science, gimmicks don’t work.”
But Winter, the self-proclaimed Elvis of E. coli
, has no qualms about using gimmicks if that helps him spread science-based knowledge about the food we eat. “I was a member of a band, I was influenced by the satire of such groups as the Capitol Steps, and I enjoy writing my own parodies of famous songs.” Winter has used hits from the Beatles, Billy Joel, and many others to spread his food safety gospel. He even wrote a parody of a Weird Al parody when he turned “Eat It” into a raucous lament about a young man who eats all the wrong things.
|“We are the microbes, my friend.” Winter’s food science parody.
Winter has given nearly 200 live performances at conferences, trade shows, and public gatherings during the past several years. He has distributed more than 30,000 CDs and DVDs, while his website music attracts thousands of visitors.
An obvious multitasker, Winter is the author of two books and more than 100 publications. He serves on committees, teaches communication courses to graduate students, and testifies before the U.S. Congress on pesticide/food safety issues. He is serious about the need for quality research, but he gets most animate when talking about his courses. “I love teaching,” he said. “It’s important, and it keeps me sharp.”
That was evident on October 17. He kept an early morning audience awake and bouncing at the CAST/CropLife gathering, and everyone from dignitaries to agriculturalists to 4-H members ended his session with a song stuck in their heads.
Dr. Winter left them humming in Des Moines, but by that afternoon, he was on the Iowa State University campus delivering a factual research presentation to a group of faculty and grad students. In his campaign to make “eating less hazardous,” the winner of the 2012 Borlaug CAST Communication Award will do anything to communicate information about nutrition and food safety. by dan gogerty