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.