Industrial Bloggers

I had an experience on facebook a few weeks ago that makes more sense to me now.  Sometime ago I had noticed that a friend “liked” something called the U.S. Farmer and Rancher Alliance.  Because I enjoy news feeds from farm-friendly groups, I “liked” it too.

I don’t have time to read all the links I see on facebook, of  course, but one later posted by these folks caught my attention.  It was a blog post by a woman which said, among other things, that she does not buy organic food for her children, that she doesn’t believe there is any benefit to doing so and that women who insist on organic food for their children behave like members of a cult.

The post created a bit of a facebook dustup, primarily from folks like me, who didn’t appreciate the comparison of supporters of organic agriculture to a cult.

Wondering why they’d post something like that, I did a little research and learned that the “Farmer and Rancher Alliance” is actually some kind of propaganda front for ag-chemical companies.  The organization takes funding from “industry partners” which include Dow, Monsanto, DuPont and the like (in fact, a mere $500,000 will land a spot on their Premier Partner Advisory Group).  They use facebook (and other social media) to disparage organic agriculture, while posing as an alliance of “farmers and ranchers.”

What I’ve just learned is that this is part of a larger effort to promote industrial agriculture through social media and blogs.  Recognizing that “Moms” make most of the food decisions in American families, and faced with data showing that said Moms believe organically grown food is better for their families, the industry has recruited (or created) bloggers to promote industrial processed food.  Their hope is that these “Mom” bloggers will accomplish what their massive advertising budgets cannot–persuading American families to favor their products over organic food.  According to one article I read, “Research shows that consumers put less trust in promotions funded by companies with a profit motive.  Individuals are perceived as more genuine ag advocates.”  So these companies seek to benefit from the undeserved credibility of these “Mom” bloggers.

Hopefully folks will see through this.  It is hard to imagine any reasonably informed consumer taking seriously a blog post from a “Mom” who prefers to feed her family processed food and GMOs rather than whole natural foods.

One of their current efforts is to convince “Moms” that pink slime (which they call “lean, finely textured beef (LFTB)”) is a good food choice for the family.  Good luck with that one.

Bottom line:  just because it’s on the internet, doesn’t mean it’s true.  Until you’re satisfied with the credibility and independence of the source, don’t take anything you read on a blog about food, including this one, as necessarily accurate and reliable.

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8 comments on “Industrial Bloggers

  1. Bob Braxton says:

    Handel couldn’t have sung it better.

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  2. You’re on to something. There are all sorts of greenwashing fronts out there. A new one I’ve encountered invites female bloggers and “opinion leaders” to visit a farm. They’re given gifts, food, and a heartfelt presentation by the farm wife about how conventional ag methods like confinement operations are clean, safe, and essential to our way of life. These people then write about their experiences in glowing terms, generally saying they now poo poo their formerly misguided beliefs about organic foods. I’m seeing it a lot now.

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    • Bill says:

      Exactly. I’ve been reading about it in the industrial ag press. It’s part of a calculated effort by industrial agriculture to use women bloggers to promote their products and to resist the rise of organics.

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  3. El Guapo says:

    While what you say is common sense, very few people are actually going to take the timeto follow up like that.
    We buy organic where it’s available because we think it’s better for us. But when I see an anti-organic statement, I roll my eyes and get on with my day without arguing.
    History is replete with examples of the loudest voice winning the argument, as opposed to the accurate one.

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  4. shoreacres says:

    And it’s bigger than the agricultural realm. The term used is “astro-turfing” – this post by George Monbiot describes it pretty well.

    I first ran into it in the climate change debate. It’s rife there, from both sides.

    The other thing that has me irritated is the ubiquitous radio advertisement about immigration legislation from a group called “Americans for a Conservative Direction”. It’s Mark Zuckerberg’s front group, and if you drill down a bit, you find that “conservative” is a bit of a wiggle-word for them. 😉

    I’m a bit peeved with FB anyway. Not that I should care, because I’m not on there and haven’t been for years, but the recent news about their “shadow profiles” and the increasing tendency to ban those whose views they don’t agree with is distressing.

    In any event, your word to the wise is so important – check your sources, and never assume a thing.

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks for the link. That is outrageous. So it’s even worse than I knew. Good grief.

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    • Bill says:

      The more I think about this, the more it bothers me. Because studies show that consumers don’t trust corporations, but are more inclined to trust endorsements from apparently objective individuals, it makes sense that the marketeers would create bogus individuals and fabricate the endorsements (or as the linked piece discusses, to create a bogus appearance of an opinion groundswell). Just another way to manipulate opinion. Grrr….

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