Misconceptions About Agriculture: Does Turkey Make You Sleepy? (Thanksgiving Edition!)

First off I just want to wish everyone and their families a happy and blessed Thanksgiving, hoping that you all have enjoyed your Thanksgiving dinners. I know that I had a great turkey day, filled with all kinds of amazing food like rice, stuffing, dinners rolls, several different options of Puerto Rican cuisine (because I am of Puerto Rican descent), and of course a nice big juicy turkey! Of course I also had my wonderful family to share this meal with because I couldn’t finish it on my own of course, actually I probably could have. So after this huge feast, as it may go with many of you and your families out there, one by one my family members dropped like flies. They slipped into eternal slumbers, perhaps even food comas. Usually this is how it always happens after Thanksgiving dinner, my entire family just takes a group nap in my grandmother’s living room, but then I think to myself, If this always happens after Thanksgiving is it something that we all eat to make us fall asleep? I think maybe it’s the turkey, since I’ve heard before the idea tossed around that turkey makes you sleepy. I decided to look into whether or not this was actually true, whether or not turkey makes you sleepy.

It turns out that this idea seems to be relatively widespread, that eating turkey really does make you sleepy. When I heard this though, it seemed a little off, how can something as natural as a turkey make you sleepy. Actually while researching this question I found that this is just a common misconception, eating turkey actually does not make you sleepy. How do I know this? It’s actually due to a natural amino acid found in turkeys called “L-typtophan”. To explain more about what this amino acid is and what it does I reference Linda Yerardi, R.D., a diabetes nutrition educator at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland. “Turkey alone will not make you sleepy. It’s true that L-tryptophan, an essential amino acid found in turkey and many other protein foods, can have a sedative effect in some people. But its effects are blunted by the presence of other amino acids in turkey, which compete for the same binding sites in the brain, she notes. “You’d have to take L-tryptophan alone (with no other amino acids present) and on an empty stomach to produce any drowsiness. “Lots of other foods, including ground beef and chicken, contain L-tryptophan, too, and don’t have this reputation.” (www.eatingwell.com, 2014)

With that said, it’s actually true that there is something in turkeys that could perhaps be a sedative, but is negated, by other amino acids and has no true effect. Therefore all my family members after dinner tonight weren’t falling asleep because of the turkey, but solely because of all the food we ate. So there’s another misconception about agriculture, debunked. Have a wonderful rest of your thanksgiving and sleep well with all that turkey in your tummy.

Sources: http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/5_nutrition_myths_busted

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Misconceptions About Agriculture: Pesticides are Not Used In Organic Foods

They way that food is produced is both very important and crucial to consumers simply because most if not all of us are concerned about what goes into our bodies. Though we are for the most part well informed when it comes this subject in terms of agriculture, many consumers have an issue with the use of pesticides in their food. Since the use of pesticides is wide spread in the world of agriculture, many turn to organic food options in order to avoid the risk of consuming pesticides, since of course no pesticides are used in the production of organic foods right? Wrong. It turns out that contrary to popular belief, pesticides are in fact used in the production of organic foods.

First off lets take a step back and talk about what exactly a pesticide is and what constitutes a pesticide, as well as why farmers use them in the production of their crops. By definition a pesticide is “a substance used for destroying insects or other organisms harmful to cultivated plants or to animals.” (www.dictionary.com, 2014) These pesticides can also be broken down into separate categories such as insecticides, killing several species of insect, fungicides, killing species of fungi that harm specific crops, etc. With this in mind we take a look at why farmers use these potentially harmful pesticides. The reason for this use of pesticides is actually to protect the crops themselves, by the use of pesticides many crops in each harvest are save due to the extermination of harmful insects, fungi, etc. that can potentially kill the crops. Since these pesticides sound so extreme, it is also important to question just how safe these things are, the answer to that question may perhaps be unsettling. Pesticides can cause some rather severe health problems, “Laboratory studies show that pesticides can cause health problems, such as birth defects, nerve damage, cancer, and other effects that might occur over a long period of time. However, these effects depend on how toxic the pesticide is and how much of it is consumed.” (www.epa.gov, 2014) This of course is not good at all and makes you question the use of pesticides, though this is true these pesticides prevent many other harmful bacteria from infecting the crops.

Finally we return back to the issue of pesticide use in the production of organic foods, particularly crops. As stated before pesticides are in fact used in organic farming, though there is a slight difference. That difference is stated here in this quote, “organic farmers do use pesticides. The only difference is that they’re “natural” instead of “synthetic.” At face value, the labels make it sound like the products they describe are worlds apart, but they aren’t. A pesticide, whether it’s natural or not, is a chemical with the purpose of killing insects (or warding off animals, or destroying weeds, or mitigating any other kind of pest, as our watchful commenters have correctly pointed out). Sadly, however, “natural” pesticides aren’t as effective, so organic farmers actually end up using more of them!” (www.realscience.com, 2014) So in principle, organic farmers actually end up using more pesticides then normal farmers, just using a different pesticide. So there you have it, another common misconception in the field of agriculture, debunked.

Sources: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/food/risks.htm

http://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2014/06/the_biggest_myth_about_organic_farming.html

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/science-sushi/2011/07/18/mythbusting-101-organic-farming-conventional-agriculture/

http://www.azfb.org/articles/78798/the-myths-and-facts-in-agriculture

Misconceptions About Agriculture: Farmers Are Uneducated

As far as farming goes, it is quite the tiring and backbreaking profession, many farmers wake up in the early hours of the day and don’t go to bed until well after the sun sets. There is no doubting that the work of a farmer, though some challenge the intellect of those that do the work. Many believe that its just mindless work, and though it is physically challenging, it lacks the mental challenge. Along with this, many farmers face several hurtful and just outright incorrect stereotypes. Some of these stereotypes include being hillbillies, uneducated, having a big straw hat with overalls, missing teeth and even being unhygienic. Well it turns out none of these are true, and maybe after reading this your perception of a modern day farmer will change for the better.

If you haven’t already guessed from the title and what has been previously stated, we are going to try and debunk the myth of the thought that all farmers are uneducated. It turns out now that many people across the United States are going to college and receiving a four-year degree in order to enter the field of agriculture, specifically farming. Individuals not involved in agriculture, or who seem not to know anything about the field, believe that farmers don’t have any credentials or sense of a formal higher education. This can easily be proven incorrect, as “Nearly 30 percent of today’s farmers and ranchers have attended college, with over half of his group obtaining a degree. A growing number of today’s farmers and ranchers with four-year college degrees are pursuing post-graduate studies.” (www.cals.ncsu.edu, 2014) This shows a growing trend over time that the number of farmers that are educated in any sort of higher learning is steadily increasing, and will only increase as farming continues to evolve.

It is also believed that farming solely constitutes manual labor, and that in order to do this type of work there is no real necessity for a college education or degree. This also isn’t true, farmers nowadays are sticking to education in order to become more efficient, learn how to run the “business” end of a farm, become handymen and technologically capable to fix a machine that malfunctions, veterinarians for their sick animals, and even weatherman to attempt to make judgments on weather in regards to their crops and live stock. Another quote that also solidifies the legitimacy of the growing intellect of farms is this from cornucopia.com. “Today’s farmers are highly educated and many are experienced in fields that may, at first glance, seem unrelated to the business of farming. They come to farming prepared with life experience, advanced or technical degrees, and business skills.” (www.cornucopia.com, 2011) So with this given information it is safe to say that farmers are, in fact, educated and this myth is debunked. So the next time you think about a farmer, think less of a common stereotype, and more of the college degree that many of them hold in their hands.

Sources: http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/CollegeRelations/AGRICU.htm

http://www.cornucopia.org/2011/03/a-new-generation-of-farmers-young-educated-energetic/

Misconceptions About Agriculture: Small Farms are Unimportant and Irrelevant

With the industry of agriculture being the main provider of food and resources for so many millions of people, it can be seen as somewhat of a booming factory industry. Many people tend to believe that the industry of farming is solely factory based, with large-scale operations running like a “conveyer belt” and pumping out good and services with little to no disregard about anything else. With this common misconception, it is hard to imagine why no one would stop to think about the small-scale operation, the little man, who puts in the work and gets no credit. Small farms are seen as unimportant and irrelevant, when in fact that really shouldn’t be the case.

When it comes to he issue of where our food comes from, the question is quite obvious, but we tend to get the idea of that farm confused. Many people seem to believe, as previously stated, that most if not all farms ten to be large factory farms that produce mass amounts of product at a fast pace in order to maximize profit. This is actually not true, and this claim holds no validity whatsoever. To prove this false claim wrong we turn to the United States Department of Agriculture, which states “Ninety-one percent of U.S. farms are classified as small—gross cash farm income (GCFI) of less than $250,000. About 60 percent of these small farms are very small, generating GCFI of less than $10,000.” (www.ers.usda.gov, 2012) So according to the US Department of Agriculture about ninety one percent of our farms here in America are considered to be small farms. With that fact stated, how is it that small farms can be considered to be unimportant or irrelevant? That question can be answered by another misconception of the community of consumers of agricultural goods. Most consumers simply don’t understand where their food is coming from, and since small farms are non-commercialized, they do not here about them at all, which means the only farms that they are aware of are the large commercialized farms that are only a microscopic percentage of farms in America.

Furthermore we look at a specific statistic regarding small farms in agriculture from Cornell University’s website. According to data collected in 2009, “There were 1,921,058 small farms in the US in 2009, which translated to 90.1% of the total farms in the US at that time.” (www.smallfarms.cornell.edu, 2014.) With that said, the point that small farms are unimportant only continues to become further from the truth. Given the fact that small farms make up so many of the farms in America today, they also produce a substantial amount of the agricultural food and services consumed today. So there you have it, another agricultural misconception debunked, and I think its safe to say that America’s agriculture wouldn’t be where it is today with out the little man, the small farm.

Sources: http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/eib-economic-information-bulletin/eib63.aspx

http://smallfarms.cornell.edu/about/statistics-and-information-resources/

Misconceptions About Agriculture: Are Brown Eggs More Nutritious Then White Eggs?

Sometimes the world of agriculture is unclear due to a copious amount of professional opinions floating around about different topics with in the field. With this confusing, sometimes contradicting information, your opinion and view tends to become a little skewed away from the truth. This creates misconceptions, which are plainly just “incorrect views or opinions due to faulty thinking or understanding. “ (dictionary.com) These of course are rampant in the field of agriculture and for the next couple of weeks we are going to be looking at some of these misconceptions and see if we can debunk a few.

When it comes to the issue of food, it seems as if people are trying to find the newest and healthiest thing, which there is nothing wrong with don’t get me wrong, but I feel as if sometimes people like to believe that what they are consuming is healthier when in all actuality it isn’t. For example we take a look at eggs, eggs of course are already a healthy day starter, providing protein with just the right amount of fat to get our days going. Though this is true, there is an ongoing debate as to whether or not brown eggs are healthier than white eggs. This idea has materialized after the false advertisement of brown eggs as the healthy alternative to white eggs. So with this debate in mind we are going to see if in fact this is true or not and how they stack up against each other.

Health wise these eggs seem to stack up pretty similarly, “Both brown and white eggs contain 70 calories and 7 grams of fat. Both brown and white eggs contain 210 mg of cholesterol and 12 grams of protein, and finally both are rich in B vitamins and minerals such as phosphorus and choline.” (www.fitday.com,2013). So there you have it, when it comes down to the nutritional content of each individual egg, it does in fact turn out that they are identical in value. So if this is the case we question, “Why exactly are the shells of the eggs different colors if there’s nothing actually different between them?’ That question can also be answered with factual evidence. It turns out that the color of the egg’s shell is determined by the color of the hen that is laying that particular egg. So for instance “an egg with a brown shell would come from a brown hen, and an egg with a white shell would come from a white hen.” (www.fitday.com,2013) So, with these two questions about eggshell color answered, that totally debunks this misconception right? Actually not quite, there is one more questions that separates us from the truth. Why, if they are completely identical except for color, do brown eggs tend to cost more than white eggs? Many believe that this difference in price is due to brown eggs having more nutritional value, but since we’ve already proved that to be false, why is it that they cost more? Much like the other questions, this too can be answered, like we mentioned before there is a difference in the colors of the shells due to the difference in look and breed of the hen that lays it. This is also the reason for different prices in the eggs, it turns out that brown breeds of hen are actually larger in size, therefore consuming more feed, which makes them more expensive to care fore. This in turn raises the price of the eggs once they hit the stores, in order to make up for that extra cost for food and up keep.

So there you have it, the misconception of brown eggs being healthier than white eggs has been debunked. So the next time that you go to the grocery store you wont have to worry as much about what the difference of these two types of eggs are because there really aren’t any large differences in particular.

Sources: http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/brown-eggs-vs-white-eggs.html#b

http://ncfieldfamily.org/farm/15-common-misconceptions-about-agriculture/

agrI-ESFP-Culture

Its interesting to think about truly how many people there are in this world, the number is quite remarkable, Do you know what it is? Its “7.125 billion people” (Syngenta.com, 2013). No, not million, billion, that’s pretty remarkable if you ask me. Then we think about how ever single one of those people is different in their own specific way, yet we still know that the they belong to either a group or society that shares several things in common with them. I like to think of it this way, though there are so many people on earth and they are all different, they all have unique personalities, and though these personalities are unique to them they also fit in specific personality groups that identify similar traits in all of them. Some believe of course that personality test are all mumbo jumbo, but I beg to differ.

During my time this semester while taking a class that for the first time exposes my to agriculture, I knew for sure it wasn’t for me. Though I thought this, I began to realize just how broad and interesting the field was. It wasn’t just all about planting crops, feeding the pigs, and milking the cows. Yes this perception may perhaps be quite ignorant, but in my defense I was born and raised in the second largest city in the United States. Anyway, unbeknownst to me agriculture involved all kinds of things that I had no idea it even touched upon. It involves of course farming, which is a major component, but also advertising, marketing, public relations, and even aspects of journalism etc. You can see some more professions in the field of agriculture here. Finally I understood that even though I feel that I have a very exuberant and fun personality, I could tie myself into the field of agriculture when I though that my personality did not pair well with this career path.

I know what you are saying, “wow those first two paragraphs could not be more different, what is he trying to say?” Onto you I say, do not worry; I am about to tie them together right now. As stated previously I mentioned something called a personality test, and when I say this I am talking about one in particular; “The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator”, which I highly encourage you to research. Recently in class we took an abbreviated form of this test and our professor revealed the results to us aloud and asked if we thought this personality was accurate or not. Being of course skeptical I wasn’t exactly sure how legitimate this test was or if it truly worked. So we had two choices for each letter of a specific personality and I ended up with ESFP, the four letters being Extroversion, Sensing, Feeling, and Perceiving. After we all came up with our four letters our professor began to go through the sixteen different personalities and describe what they entailed to students who raised their hands for the ones that they got. Finally my professor came to ESFP, and I was the only one amongst my peers who raised their hands. The results of the personality test astounded me, I felt as if this test had completely pinpointed exactly what my personality was like. Some details included exuberance, loving life, making work fun, enjoying working with other, and watching three plus hours of television a day, the last being extremely accurate. Fitiaspoor created a wonderful piece in her blog depicting the ESFP personality traits in depth, which out can check out here. One other thing that I found quite interesting is that with all the individuals in my class, I was the only ESFP among them, and I felt unique and special as an individual. Yet at the same time I felt as If I was part of a specific society shared with those who have the some personality type as myself.

Finally, tying this all into agriculture I began to realize as I take my personality type and the professions in this field we’ve learned about, that I do have a place in agriculture. I’m so interested in working with people; with this I can pursue a career in agriculture with a focus in advertising or public relations. I also love to write, and love to make writing fun so now I can work in the realm of Agricultural Communications. A career path I’d never even considered now holds all kinds of opportunities for me, and my eyes have been opened to this due to the fact that I see my personality, and more importantly myself in all these professions.

Sources: http://www.syngenta.com/global/corporate/en/goodgrowthplan/challenges/Pages/challenges.aspx?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_content=challenges&utm_campaign=good-growth-plan&gclid=CjwKEAiA4rujBRDD7IG_wOPytXkSJACTMkgasgXuQOU5fP_1Sthp1GSy39lUTMqEukSsbFnBbytIpBoC4QLw_wcB

http://www.agday.org/education/careers.php

http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/

http://fitiaspoor.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/198/

Agriculture and Social Media

The practice of agriculture has been around for thousands and thousands of years. Ancient Civilizations used agriculture to be one of their main sources of food for centuries, which is similar to now as modern society uses agriculture for that same purpose. Agriculture has always been a life line for thousands of people, whether it is a food source or a source of income, and though this craft has been around for so long it lacked certain aspects that could make it perhaps more efficient. This of course changed with the emergence and wide spread use of social media. Social media shapes our entire society, but more specifically it has also noticeably changed agriculture and what I think is for the better.

There are so many forms of social media out there, social networks, blogging sites like this one, and social websites that are more conversational in nature such as forums. More specifically some examples of these sites are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WordPress, Reddit, LinkedIn, Pintrest and many more. Another great thing about these sites is the ability to share the information that you find interesting or insightful. Therefore if you find something that in some way helped you, you can share that same bit of information in hopes that you will have the same effect on someone else. Here is a guide to the use and “Power of Social Media in Agriculture.”

This brings us to the important question of how does social media effect agriculture? And is the effect positive or negative? It does in fact turn out that social media positively affects the realm of agriculture in many ways across all the different platforms of social media. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all do a great job of sharing and relaying information to both the producers (the farmers), and the consumers. For example many farms have accounts for these social networking sites and post things related to the production and development of their crops and or livestock. This seems pretty interesting to me even with my limited knowledge with in the field of agriculture. I often see advertisements about a specific farms production layout as well as crops and livestock they provide. I’ve also seen retweets of people I am following on twitter referencing a farmer/blogger who blogs consistently about his own experiences as a farmer and the things he does on a daily bases as related to agriculture. The three of these sites also utilize the function of posting pictures of things related to their organizations and the things that they produce.

Moving on from the more popular social networking sites, there are also less popular ones that hold great importance in the field of agriculture. This includes many different sites but two of the most important of which are WordPress and LinkedIn. WordPress allows for farmers to creates blogging sites and write about their farms, the things that they produce, and the status of many things occurring on the farm at once. This is also a good tool for readers to become more familiar with the individual that is supplying their food, which in many cases provides a sense of knowledge and ease for many consumers, especially with the use of genetically modified organisms. Many of these blogs are quite interesting; here are some cool ones to check out.

Agriculture has evolved over thousand and thousands of years, and though something remain the same it continues to evolve. With the continued climb of social media agriculture will become more and more efficient, and an ancient practice will become modern.

Sources: http://outthinkgroup.com/tips/the-6-types-of-social-media

http://animalagalliance.org/images/upload/Social%20Media%20Manual.pdf

http://janiceperson.com/blogs-i-read/total-list-farm-blogs/

ModiFieD

What in the world is a genetically modified organism (GMO)? Dozens of peoples claim to completely understand what they are, but when questions are raised about them they are often times unable to correctly define specifically what they are. Then again I’m guilty of this, I often times inquire about what a GMO really is. Is it a new type of organism being created in a lab somewhere? Perhaps a new breed of crop? Or even a breakthrough in the realm of agriculture, although maybe consumers are unsure as to whether this break through is a negative one or a positive one. To begin it is imperative that people understand truly what a genetically modified organism is, so we can become more educated about the topic which allows us to make the decision for ourselves as to whether we as consumers are for or against GMOs.

So what really is a genetically modified organism? It is in fact just that a natural organism (such as crops and livestock) that has been scientifically modified to become more efficient and in most cases even tastier and more nutritious for the consumer. The University of Maryland Medical Center defines genetically modified foods as “Genetically engineered foods have had foreign genes (genes from other plants or animals) inserted into their genetic codes.” So therefore genetically modified organisms are crops, such as corn, tomatoes, potatoes, etc. and livestock, such as cows, pigs, chickens, etc. With the introduction of foreign genes to their normal gene pool, these organisms they become much larger which creates a bigger proportion of food for the consumer, which is the trademark of GMOs. With a complicated topic such as GMOs, it’s often easier to just look at an example of a GMO; in this instance you can see a genetically modified cow. (Image from http://depletedcranium.com/belgianblue.jpg)

After beginning to understand more of what a GMO really is, I wanted to learn more about the facts of GMOs and get a more educated opinion about them. After some research it turns out, stated by http://organic.lovetoknow.com/GMO_Statistics, that large abundances of the crops grown and consumed in the United States are genetically modified. “88 percent of corn is genetically modified as well as 93 percent of soy, 94 percent of cottonseed and 75 percent of papaya.” According to the National Research Council, as stated on the same website (http://organic.lovetoknow.com/GMO_Statistics) “it takes just 843,000 cows to garner the milk yield of one million treated cows.” These statistics show that GMOs are actually widely used and fulfill a huge part of the agricultural market.

With a holistic understanding of what genetically modified organisms are it is easier to be able to make an educated decision about whether or we as consumers choose to be either pro or against GMOs. Its an important decision to be made and I decided that since it is so important, I tried to leave out any biased opinions about the difference between pro and anti GMO groups, in order for you to make a more personal decision for you. GMOs are an agricultural innovation, and it is up to you, the consumer, to decide whether or not you are comfortable with supporting and consuming them.

Sources:

http://umm.edu/health/medical/ency/articles/genetically-engineered-foods

http://organic.lovetoknow.com/GMO_Statistics

http://depletedcranium.com/belgianblue.jpg

City Vs. Country

 

When it comes to the very important topic of agriculture, different groups of people will tell you different things. City dwellers, whose jobs consist of anything from working a large corporations to working for commercialized fast food restaurants within every street block. On the other hand, those who live out in the country do very different things such as farm or more physically oriented work. Though extremely different these two groups share one major characteristic, they rely heavily on the production and distribution of agriculture, though in different ways.

 

I personally have always lived within a large city, and therefore have never truly been exposed to the realm of agriculture. I have always known that agriculture is of great importance within our society, but it never directly impacted me until agricultural products, such as corn and wheat, were placed in front of me on the dinner table. At times like these I truly think to myself about how little I actually know about agriculture and how, like me, others who live in the same environment that I do don’t really know anything about it either. It has come to my attention in recent weeks that agriculture is a vital resource to any environment or society, even if we do not see it happening directly in front of us.

 

In all actuality there is a tremendous amount of labor and detail that goes into the process of agriculture, from planting the crops to them being put down on the dinner table. In most farming environment, this long process includes everything from “the prepping of the soil, the amount of time it takes to plant and harvest these crops, as well as the care they need all the way until those same crops are picked, packaged, sold.” (Mather, Katrina. Deliciousliving.com). Many families live their lives off of farming these crops and sustaining livestock to be consumed, yet not a thought crosses the mind of those consumers who don’t see any of this process that goes on, even though it is right in front of their faces.

 

Aside from this long process, you might think to yourself, “ Well if those who live in the city don’t pay agriculture any mind, what is it like for those whose lives revolve around agriculture?” (click here to see what life is like living on a farm!) It was extremely interesting to hear the thoughts and opinions of my fellow classmates in my Agricultural Communications class when talking about what three words come to mind when they think of agriculture. To be quite honest all that came to my mind was “emptiness” because all I could think about were corn fields going on for miles and miles, and I was so uneducated about this topic to the point that that’s what I thought everyone’s outlook on the subject was. Then the rest of the class shared their three words and I was amazed, words like “life, jobs, health, food” were all written on the board, and it goes to show that since many of my classmates were from backgrounds of agriculture, it was interesting to compare both mine and their opinions since we came from opposite worlds.

 

With all of this in mind and with only my early experiences with in the realm of agriculture I feel as if I have learned so much already, and I find it quite interesting. Now that I attend a school where agriculture is a central theme, I have a greater appreciation for things like crop sciences and the historic Morrow Plots, that before seemed ordinary but now are rather extraordinary. Now more than ever I look forward to becoming more enthralled with the world of agriculture, and becoming as educated about it as possible.

 

Sources: http://deliciousliving.com/agriculture/farm-table

 

http://agronomyday.cropsci.illinois.edu/2001/morrow-plots/

 

http://www.globalonenessproject.org/library/articles/small-talk-life-farm

 

http://www.greenbiz.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/wide_large/20110707CityFarmChicago.jpg