Thursday, September 12, 2013

You Don't Say Love With a Pork Chop...Oh really??

This wasn't the post I had planned for today but seeing as OneNote ate the post I had planned and I spent the day playing Plumber (I think I should give up my Master's and apprentice with a plumber instead!), I decided it was just better to be flexible and leave that post for another day. 

I'm not sure how many people actually saw this ad, but when I did I was stunned for a few minutes. Now I'm sure the people who put this together didn't mean for it to upset anybody, but I was definitely riled. 

I'm sure you're thinking well everybody loves to eat steak! And don't get me wrong, I LOVE BEEF...but I also LOVE PORK. And as someone who deals with the pork industry, but also supports the cattle industry, I was very disappointed in this ad. Why are we pitting against each other? Why is it always beef vs pork or pork vs chicken? Shouldn't we just tout that our product is healthy and nutritious and not resort to bashing our fellow aggies? 

It's fantastic that we live in a country with so many CHOICES. The choice of what to eat, what to wear, where to live, what to do with our lives, the list never ends. So in this great list of choices, should we truly choose to bash our fellow meat producers?

I mean I have recipes up the wazoo that use Beef, Pork, Chicken, eggs, milk, cream cheese, whipping cream, etc etc. I was even watching The Pioneer Woman this weekend and for a ranch lunch she made Pan Fried Pork Chops. Let me repeat that…Pan Fried Pork Chops(!!) for a bunch of cattlemen!! If that doesn't show that enjoying quality food overreaches labels, then I don't know what else I can say to illustrate this point.

This may seem like a silly thing to be worried about, but I think Agriculture should spend more time working together (stop the emotional fighting over organic, conventional, etc etc) and less time drawing battle lines. OK, so maybe this ad wasn't meant as a battle line drawn in the sand. But hey it's playing on your emotions isn't it??

On a quick tangent, another ad that has always frustrated me is the Happy Cows Come from California. OK, so maybe this frustrates me because I've heard the outrage from my significant other who is from Wisconsin. But it also frustrates me because unfortunately many of the dairies in California are actually MOVING OUT of Cali because of regulations and expenses due to being overrun by more and more houses. So should the slogan actually say Happy California Cows Actually Live in Idaho? I just found out that a lot of the Happy Cow commercials were actually filmed in New Zealand!! Yep, those are happy New Zealander California Cows. We've been lied to in quadruple.

Anyway, coming back from that tangent, it probably (over)frustrates me the most when I read articles and see some sort of jab at a fellow industry. There are countless farmers who raise crops, cattle, pigs, chickens, goats, you name it..the combination probably occurs on various farms throughout the country. So why on Earth do we need to advertise that Beef should be the choice for Labor Day BBQs by saying that Pork Chops are a lesser meat?

It feels like the Agriculture sector is always defending itself from outsiders, so we really don't need to demean each other. I watched  this video that reminded me that life is not supposed to be so selfish. That we, as individuals, are part of a broader whole and should act as such. This led me to think the following: human growth is forcing more urbanization but they want farming to go backwards. It would certainly be idyllic if everybody had a few animals and crops to get their families fed every year. But it is also very hard and not a secure situation to be in...ask all the subsistence farmers in most of the world. They have no reserves should something go wrong, and often their family ends up starving. The reason we have moved this way as a species is because people got tired of barely making it, so a small portion (<2% of the population) has taken over the hard work of feeding and clothing the population, allowing others to have the time and freedom to make grand discoveries. There is more time for living, for enjoying your fellow man, when you are not worried about where your next meal is going to come from.

Consumers want the glorious old days without having to sully themselves. But we are seeing a decrease in farmland which is  a huge cause for concern. If we want to make the world a more beautiful place should we all head back to the farm? Could we make it if we headed back to the farm? Probably not. Farming is not a glamorous lifestyle, yet it is truly fantastic and rewarding for those who love it. The video asked people to Bow Into Service to your fellow man...and Farmers have always been in service to others. Most farmers would choose to farm no matter the circumstances or outside opportunities they might receive, but they take the burden of providing food and products to the world seriously. And contrary to popular belief, farmers and ranchers don't do what they do in order to get rich, especially since the average farm family makes $40-50,000 in a good year, and cowhands often average measly sums ($700/month for example) to take care of cattle. I posted this article on my Facebook page earlier. It speaks about the current epidemic we are seeing of urbanites dropping their chickens off at shelters after realizing how much work raising chickens actually is. And if you look at anything outside of this post, please watch this video because it is without a doubt the most eloquent speech about the battle between producers and consumers I have ever heard.

So maybe as humans it isn't actually a good thing when we are given too many choices, especially when we don't have the knowledge necessary to make an informed choice. It's normal, and depressing, to see how much anti-agricultural activists use Emotion as a tactic to gain supporters. But I never expected to see a Beef ad telling me that You Don't Say Love With a Pork Chop. Because sometimes I do, in fact, show my love with a PORK CHOP. And Bacon, which doesn't come from a steer, but from a pig. And everybody loves bacon...and a lot of people love pork chops as well. So while I may have taken offense to something that wasn't meant to be offensive, it definitely serves as a good reminder that Beef and Pork should be friends. Cuz we have bigger fish to fry. 

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