Friend or foe?
First off, let me say that I applaud an initiative that seeks to narrow the gap between rural producers and urban consumers. That is the whole point of advocacy and a national day that recognizes global hunger, environmental sustainability and the continued humane production of livestock is a giant step in the right direction. Food Day, which is today, is striving to do that through the following six principles:
1. Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods
2. Support sustainable farms and limit subsidies to big-agribusiness
3. Expand access to food and alleviate hunger
4. Protect the environment and animals by reforming factory farms
5. Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids
6. Support fair conditions for food and farm workers
All of these principles are written with good intentions and I agree with most of them. However, does anyone else have a problem with the wording used?
Alarms are sounding with #4 at the mention of "reforming factory farms." I wholeheartedly agree with protecting the environment and animals, however, the negative connotations that accompany 'factory farming' are counterproductive to this initiative. I won't list here what the Food Day website is touting because it was just another form of propaganda that will serve as a poor influence to consumers who want the truth. However, if you wish to read it for yourself here is the direct link to the six initiatives.
The truth is that farmers and ranchers practice humane methods in raising livestock 24/7/365. Food Day is everyday to the rural American producer and they don't need a declaration from Washington to tell them so.
I'm not the only person who thinks #2 and #4 are whack - check out this piece from Drover's CattleNetwork. Additionally, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance doesn't fully condone the #4 "as all farms, large and small, should keep animals healthy... Large does not mean bad."
My final issue lies with the partners in Food Day - there are about 60+ and they range from state organizations like The California Endowment, to health organizations such as National Association for Health and Fitness. But the partners who really caught my eye were:
- Farm Animal Rights Movement - www.farmusa.org - they self proclaim, "national nonprofit organization working to end the use of animals for food through public education and grassroots activism." They are also behind meatout.org.
- Humane Society of the United States - www.hsus.org - I don't think I have to inform you of their goals.
Additionally - Michael Pollan, author and self-proclaimed food expert and Wayne Pacelle, President of HSUS, are on the Food Day Advisory Board.
Now, obviously Food Day isn't out to abolish animal agriculture and I'm not saying that's their goal. This is just my gentle reminder that you can't always judge a book by its cover. Unless it's The Hobbit and then you can go ahead and judge away because that book is fabulous!
If you want to learn true facts about food production and connect with the people who produce it, head on over to www.realfarmersrealfood.com or ask a producer.
I hope that you will treat every day as a real Food Day, by thanking farmers and ranchers when you have the chance. Don't fall for misinformation just because it is nationally recognized. Take the time to suss out the info on your own and ask questions - don't fall for a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Until next time - thank a farmer!
Labels: agriculture, agvocacy, animal wellbeing, consumer information, farmers, Food Day, food production, goals, HSUS, livestock, livestock production, producers, ranchers, thank a farmer