As the old saying goes, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” Farming is voted one of the world’s most dangerous jobs, and through the long hours and hard work, farmers deserve 100 percent of our respect. Unfortunately, certain food companies will stop at nothing to sell their products even if it means lying or misleading consumers while throwing the hard-working farmers of our country under the bus. Here they are, in no particular order:
Through their fear mongering “Farmed and Dangerous” campaign, their non-GMO stance, getting hundreds of people sick, insider trading, the executives getting busted for cocaine use, their hyperbolic and misleading marketing claims, banning people from their social media pages who challenge their decisions, and lying to people about where they source their ingredients, their “Food with integrity” slogan can get flushed right down the toilet just like their customers do after they get sick off of their food. They tell customers they source all ingredients “local and organic” while painting a pretty picture about their ingredients. The reality? They get their pork from the UK, beef from Australia, cilantro and avocados from Mexico, etc. Why not support farmers in their own country? Chipotle is an absolute disgrace and takes the cake for the No. 1 worst fast food chain. For more info visit www.chubbychipotle.com.
Hunt’s was attacked recently on social media for completely misleading consumers on some of their advertisements. They attempt to use chemophobia to sell their products while claiming their tomatoes are better because they’re non-GMO. The problem is that there’s no such thing as commercially available GMO tomatoes, but we sure wish there was! GMOs allow farmers to grow more crop on less land while using fewer pesticides and other inputs. After thousands of people called them out on this, they did very poorly at backpeddling while lying to consumers even further. Watch Hunts get absolutely destroyed on Facebook here.
Another company that has been big into consumer deception is Subway and their stance on “antibiotic free” meat. They have prided themselves on claiming that using antibiotics in livestock is bad, which has caused strong backlash from farmers in viral articles like this one. (Subway later attempted to walk back their initial claims.) The use of antibiotics in livestock has already been cut down substantially thanks to new regulations from the FDA, improvements in vaccines, nutrition, and husbandry. But to claim that we shouldn’t be allowed to treat animals when they are sick is clearly sending the wrong message. Subway has also caved to activists’ anti-science demands of removing additives that posed no harm to humans’ health but rely on fear-mongering. This has clearly changed the way their products taste for the worse. Disrespecting scientists, veterinarians, and farmers while lowering the quality of your product is no way to win people over.
AMERICAN BEAUTY PASTA
They claim their pasta is non-GMO but it’s primarily made of wheat and there’s no such thing as GMO wheat! They boast about being non-GMO certified, but the funny thing is that although wheat is non-GMO, a majority of wheat is still herbicide tolerant and carries many of the same traits as GMOs. “Consumers want to know what they’re eating to avoid GMOs” they say, but this doesn’t tell the consumer much of anything other than the fact that the Non-GMO Project is making more money off of ignorance and fear-mongering. The words that this $19 billion a year “non-profit” non-GMO project speak about GMOs are absolute nonsense. As always, it’s important to talk to real farmers about farming and not mislead people for the sake of unethical corporate profits.
Recently Progresso has made new commercials about “antibiotic and hormone free” chicken in their products. The problem? There’s no such thing as added hormones in chicken! And if farmers use antibiotics, the animal must go through a “withdrawal period” before it can legally go to market, which means all meat contains no detectable levels of antibiotic residues. Some folks as well as myself reached out to Progresso to express our displeasure and found they copied and pasted the exact same canned response to all of us. They claimed they wanted to educate consumers that there are no added hormones in chicken, but they did no such thing. They said they did a survey and found this is what Progresso customers wanted. When asked for the evidence and the outcome of these alleged “surveys” they came up empty-handed.
Panera Bread has boasted a relatively new “no-no list,” which vows to never use a certain amount of preservatives, artificial ingredients or additives. In my opinion this isn’t too bad, except for the fact that many items on their menu pack 700 to 1000+ calories a pop and an astronomical amount of sodium. It seems as though they are creating their own “artificial additive” (bad marketing) that creates it’s very own false “health halo.” Couple this with the fact that they claim their food is “clean,” so does this mean that other food is “dirty”? For more info from a scientific perspective, click here.
This is one that disappoints me the most as I personally know some wonderful dairy farmers who provide milk to supply Dannon. Unfortunately, they have made a decision to source milk from cows that have been fed non-GMO feed, and the farmers that are contracted with them have no choice but to switch their feed sources. GMO feed uses substantially less tillage, pesticides, and resources, so this will have detrimental effects on the environment, the farmer, and ultimately the consumer. And for what? Whether a cow is fed GMOs or not, the milk product outcome is identical. This will put added stresses on the farmer who are already going through a tough time right now, while increasing costs to farmers and consumers alike.
The “Mr. Seed” seed matters videos! They will make you so angry you will never want to eat a Clif Bar again! I know I won’t. Their fear-mongering, lewd, scary, demonizing ads sponsored by big organic food companies makes it look like conventional farmers are doing everything wrong, where this couldn’t be further from the truth.
In today’s day and age, it’s true that consumers want and deserve transparency, but it’s important to be completely honest as far as how it is produced. Learn from real farmers about farming and not a big city corporate executive who’s never farmed. Everything has a place; everything we do is for good reason. Let’s not lie or mislead to sell something, there is no need to take an anti-science stance or sling mud at the competitors as a way to attempt to improve corporate profits in a dishonest way. Stay tuned for next week when I do Part 2 of this series, which talks about the companies who do it right by not insulting their customers or throwing the wonderful farmers of our nation under the bus.
Michelle Miller, the Farm Babe, is an Iowa-based farmer, public speaker and writer, who lives and works with her boyfriend on their farm which consists of row crops, beef cattle, and sheep. She believes education is key in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers.