Podcast Episode 084: The Freakonomics of Food – Jayson Lusk

Feb 6, 2018

“Food and agriculture innovation doesn’t come only from Monsanto, Cargill, and McDonald’s. It comes from students, nonprofit scientists, university professors, and struggling entrepreneurs. Fostering an environment that is hostile to innovation and growth in food and agriculture not only thwarts the plans of Big Food but also makes it harder for scientists to get their innovations to market.” – Jayson Lusk

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Jayson Lusk, PhD

Jayson Lusk is a food and agricultural economist who studies what we eat and why we eat it. He is a Distinguished Professor and Head of the Agricultural Economics program at Purdue University and the author of Unnaturally Delicious: How Science and Technology are Serving Up Super Foods to Save the World (2016) and The Food Police: A Well-Fed Manifesto about the Politics of Your Plate (2013). A researcher, writer, and speaker, Lusk has published more than 190 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals on topics ranging from the economics of animal welfare to consumer preferences for GMOs to the impacts of new technologies and policies. He has been listed as one of the most prolific and cited food and agricultural economists of the past two decades, won numerous research awards, given hundreds of lectures for businesses, nonprofits, trade industry organizations, and universities in the US and abroad, and has been interviewed or published or appeared in national media outlets such as the New York Times and Fox News.


Tune in to the show to find out:

  • Do people really want to know more about farming?
  • Why transparency isn’t always appreciated
  • Why cage-free isn’t what most people think
  • What Jayson learned from a group of pessimistic students
  • What Jayson says about the microwave, broccoli and kale
  • Why people keep romanticizing agriculture
  • What the “vote-buy” paradox is
  • Some of the unintended consequences of clean labels
  • How the concept of “trade-offs” can help us think differently

Here are the resources we mentioned on the show: 

  1. Jayson’s books and blog
  2. Jayson’s research highlights
  3. Jayson in the media
  4. Jayson’s speaking schedule
  5. Jayson on Twitter
  6. Episode 056: Eating Beyond the Headlines – Neva Cochran
  7. Episode 043: The Surprising Truth About Sustainable Agriculture – Jack A. Bobo 
  8. Episode 017: A Historian’s Take on Food and Food Politics – Interview with Rachel Laudan 
  9. Episode 063: How and Why We Eat: A Food Ethnographer’s Insight – June Jo Lee 
  10. 10.Episode 077: Beyond Breakfast with the Bell Institute – Amy Cohn 
  11. Melissa’s Sound Bites Sound Science Toolkit
  12. Melissa’s Do M.O.R.E. with Dinner blog posts and podcast episodes
  13. “What to EAT” notepad that Melissa uses every week for meal planning  

Produced by Team Podcast 

Music by Dave Birk



  1. Neva Cochran on February 10, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    This podcast was outstanding! Jayson Lusk is so articulate and informed on issues related to modern agriculture and explains it in a way that instills confidence and understanding. If you are confused/concerned or just want to learn more about the role that modern ag and the food industry play in providing food for our country, this is a great way to learn more.

    • Melissa Dobbins on February 11, 2018 at 2:14 pm

      Thanks Neva!! And thanks again for introducing me to Jayson’s work. It’s fascinating!! So glad you enjoyed the show – hearing this makes all the hard work worthwhile!

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