Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Veganism or Nepotism?

I'd like to first take this opportunity to give a big thank you to shows like the Today Show and Oprah for giving me such great material to comment upon.


Okay, so today, Oprah featured that she and 378 of her fellow staffers decided to take a Vegan challenge: no meat, no eggs, no dairy, all for one week. Now, while I truly believe, truly, truly, truly, that we must eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and cook more using good, wholesome beef, pork, chicken or whatever, do I believe that making the choice to cut something out, be it meat, white flour, sugar, whatever is the key to the best life? No: see my grandmother, who is 96, lives independently, takes no prescriptions and loves chocolate. Do I believe you should cut out all animal products because Oprah proclaimed Monday to be Meatless Monday? NO! Think for yourself. Believe what you believe is right, but know that a life change shouldn't be made up of an "all or nothing" mentality.

Michael Pollen, of the book the Omnivore's Dilemma and the movie Food Inc. and Kathy Freston, not a nutritionist, not a doctor, not a nurse, but the exceptionally leggy blond wife of Oprah's partner in the OWN network (SERIOUSLY?? No credentials except her dislike of eating all animals and animal products as well as a well connected husband. Don't know what makes me madder...), were the featured guests. Along with these two, a manager at a Cargill meat processing plant (or slaughterhouse, thank you Lisa Ling for your use of more "harsh" sounding words), a cattle farmer (for about 30 seconds), and staffers who took the week long challenge were interviewed. If you haven't watched this show, please do. I know that I am uber-sensitive to the voice of the American farmer, but I feel like I saw a lot more of the cute, non-credentialed blond and her really cute boots (which I'm assuming were faux fur) than the Cargill woman, and even Michael Pollen.

Watching this, I realized how much Oprah is self-promoting. How much she is out to work the crowd and have them believe what is most trendy, getting the biggest buzz, and consequently, getting her the most revenue, not the facts. I am currently formulating a response to her message board in regards to this show, and the biggest ad on the page is for Kashi, one of the sponsors of this challenge. I know from my little experience with advertising on this blog, that advertising is key to revenue.

Not only did the blatant pocket lining of Oprah, Freston (who was promoting her book) and corporations such as Kashi and Whole Foods bother me, but it's also the shameful references made about the American public and their eating habits. To me, I feel a balance of everything is the key. I have been the same size (with some fluctuations thanks to pregnancy) since high school because I try to eat balanced as well as exercise often and vigorously. I feel like I have set a good example for my kids, allowing them sweet treats and other "fun foods" in moderation, and run around as much as possible. We eat meat, obviously, and have ZERO interest in taking this Oprah challenge (which you can sign up for on the web site, too), but also balance out a meal with at least one veggie along with a fruit and a grain side. But it's not only because we're livestock producers that we eat meat. Thankfully, because of our livelihood, we know what we produce is a good quality product, which is something Michael Pollen stresses. However, it's because everything in moderation yields good results.

I would love to have a true, true expert on one of these shows. I would have loved to see the Cargill representative, who did a good job, by the way, have more than 30 seconds of time during her interview. I would have loved the staffer whose father-in-law was a dairy farmer have had more time to explore that aspect of her life, or maybe even have Oprah invite aforementioned father-in-law to the show and give another face to the American producer. But no...like all the daytime talk shows, one side is only given the most face time.

That is what truly ticks me off. GIVE US A VOICE, MEDIA!!! See the face of agriculture the way that it truly looks like: my husband, who is out for the third time this afternoon, in a blizzard, checking his few heifers who are close to calving. This is not some dude who is just out for a buck, because believe me, this gig does not pay enough on a day like today. See the life of our cattle, not "factory cows," who are protected from the elements during this terrible storm, thanks to the rebedding of barns and fresh water provided by automatic waterers (please power, stay on!!).

Only when we can tell our story on a stage such as Oprah will the face of American agriculture be seen in a positive way.

So, I guess I have to dye my hair blond, sprout really long legs, and write a book I really have no expertise in.



  1. I commented earlier and had to come back after I watched the show to see what you wrote! It sparked my curiosity so I watched it also. I agree with you 100%! I also thought that it was very one sided and thought that Lisa Ling used very negative and harsh words to describe what she saw. Now, I am going to go see if my very hard working husband can make it home, as he is out taking care of our cattle in this blizzard!

  2. sharing on FB and c&p the last 3 paragraphs to my status.

  3. Well said. And Micheal Pollen - surprisingly - seemed the voice of reason and actually stood up for meat-eaters. Gasp! Once she mentioned that Freston's husband was a partner in her new network, the show's credibility collapsed. It was another one of those days that I wanted to bang my head against the wall. When will the kiddos be old enough to have conversations about these compelling issues; and stop jumping on the furniture while I'm trying to watch TV? Stay warm!!

  4. As a farm family, we watched closely as well. To be honest, I was expecting worse. The Cargill plant manager was fantastic and I'm surprised she even got the airtime she did. Unbalanced? Certainly. But at least in the Western Ohio television market, Longhorn Steakhouse dominated the commercial airtime during the show! We laughed about that all the way to the barn, which is where the kids headed in the freezing rain and snow to care for our livestock.

  5. Thank you for writing this- I couldn't agree more! Media drama like this makes me CRAZY. While I deeply hope more of Americans can come to understand the truth about meat production and balanced living, for now I'm glad I'm one of the lucky few who already does. Bless you and your family for working so hard to bring us a safe and healthy food supply.

  6. Great post and I couldn't agree more.

    Ack, I'm a little giddy here. My husband found your blog and pointed me to it. We have more than just a little bit in common—farmwife, 3 girls, living in our Grandparent's old home... Reading your blog is like reading about my own life but better than I could ever put to words. Needless to say I will be back for more! :) Best.

  7. Thanks for your post! I missed the show and wanted to comment, but obviously I can't accurately blog about something I haven't seen yet. I think I shall link up to your blog :-)

  8. I realize this is about a week late, but because of the blizzard, we were out of internet for awhile. I was curious what your take would be on the episode. I know my husband watched 5 minutes before he walked off refusing to watch anymore, and about 5 minutes later before I turned off the TV because I was so disgusted with the show and Oprah. Where's our face standing up saying "Look here! Stay with us and actually see what goes into raising YOUR food!" To think that woman has just now painted a cryptic picture that most of America is going to tag with being a farmer...it sickens me. They can be vegan, so be it...they can have organic, but I would LOVE to see them try to raise enough food organically to feed even a dozen people. They'd be crying uncle within an hour of work! They say ignorance is bliss...I'd say it's more like a rude house guest arriving on your doorstep and tracking mud all over your home. Keep your voice up, and we'll keep pushing you up to be heard!

  9. Oprah lost credence with me back in 1996 with the show on BSE. It was non-scientific, sensationalist, one-sided and made me so mad that I have refused to watch her show since that time. Texas Cattleman filed and should have won the libel lawsuit against her but alas did not.