Detox from activists’ stunts (Editorial)
The winter holidays have passed, and for many, it signals the start of a recovery from the sweet treats, bountiful meals and gift-giving pressures.
Some join or return to the fitness center with the healthiest intentions, some start a fad diet, some just go back to their life before the holiday hustle and rush.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is getting in on the rebalancing act with it’s Factory Farm Detox, a gimmick challenging would-be participants to pledge a week of not eating foods grown and raised on farms the group deems irresponsible because of farm size, production system or other stigma it attaches to modern animal agriculture.
Those who sign up get guidance on what food labels the ASPCA approves of and encouraging e-mails and “inspirational advice” to keep you on their path.
It falls in line with the push for Meatless Mondays in school lunches and other such stunts to get people to change their diets based on a group or movement’s agenda and more are certainly to come.
In it’s misguided campaign, ASPCA is right on two points: First, many labels on food packaging that describe the food’s origin or how it is produced are hollow, amounting to nothing more than slick marketing that only the most discerning customers can see past. Second, consumers send signals to food companies and farmers every time they checkout at the supermarket or pay or order off a restaurant menu.
Through its own surveys, the ASPCA claims consumers care a lot about how animals are treated on farms and that’s reflected in increased sales of welfare-certified foods.
But a University of Missouri study points to consumer apathy for animal welfare concerns in restaurant settings.
“Restaurants have faced a lot of criticism for how they source their food, and it is logical to think that social cause marketing could mitigate that criticism the way it has for issues in other industries,” said Dae-Young Kim, lead author on the study and an associate professor of hospitality management in the university’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. “We found that this kind of marketing does improve trust in restaurants on a variety of issues when the ads include engaging visuals, but when it comes to animal welfare, it doesn’t matter how the message is delivered. Customers don’t care.”
Farmers care. They depend on their animals’ health for their livelihoods and use practices vetted by research and common sense to maintain proper animal welfare.
As the wave of holiday excess subsides, consumers would be better served to detox from the hype of hollow and misleading labels, created either in marketing meetings or by activist group agendas, and choose food that best fits their own lifestyle and values.
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