People Think

After our farm tour, and as our Open House/Field Day was winding down, one of our supporters said to me, “When most people buy food in grocery stores they think it’s coming from places like this.  They have no idea.”

I can think of two reasons why people would falsely assume that their food is coming from a farm like ours.  One reason is that most of our country is only a generation or two removed from the farm.  Many people can recall what their grandparents’ farm was like.  They remember the carefully tended fields and animals.  Our collective memories of farms as wholesome and pleasant places haven’t been erased by the industrial reality.  The factory-farms that dominate the industrial agricultural system today didn’t exist back then, and those places aren’t giving any farm tours these days.  So we imagine our chicken, milk, eggs, meat and vegetables coming from places like this farm, when in reality they almost always come from places nothing like our farm.

The second reason is because industrial agriculture’s marketeers cultivate that false belief.  The next time you’re in a grocery store take a look at the packaging on the food.  Often the brand name will be something like “Pleasant Valley Farm” and will have the outline of a barn, a smiling cow or a happy chicken.  Of course a depiction of where that product actually originated wouldn’t be very appetizing and wouldn’t help sales. So they tap into our residual memories of farms in order to gain sales.

I’ve shared this video before, and of course I’m aware that it too is an ad intended to help persuade viewers to buy a product.  But it can be watched and appreciated without that in mind, and I think it conveys a powerful message.

15 comments on “People Think

  1. shoreacres says:

    I do like that video.

    You know, there are feeder cams, osprey cams, hummingbird cams, beach cams… Maybe you need a pasture cam and a chicken cam, so people can watch what goes on at a real farm. 😉

    Like

    • Bill says:

      How about side by side real time feeds showing our farm and a factory farm? I’d be game for that. Something tells me the Tysons and Smithfields wouldn’t agree to it.

      Like

  2. Bill, you are so right about the generation thing. It got me to thinking of my family. Two generations ago they all lived on a farm. Today not a single one of us cousins live on a farm. Yes we do have pleasant farm memories that advertisers use to sell products. The biggest thing I’m finding out with my grandson is about time. When the big box grocery store is only a few minutes away, the concept of how long it takes to grow the food, transport the food, and sell the food is lost. In his nine year old mind, it only takes five minutes to get what ever kind of food he wants. One of his learning experiences came a couple years ago when I had him help me plant sweet corn. Three months later when we harvested a few ears that we saved from the raiding raccoons, he was shocked that it took so long to grow an ear of corn. His response was classic for the culture of today. He said, “Grandpa, why do you go through so much work when you can just go to Walmart and buy the corn?” (Rolling my eyes) The wisdom of a child kind of says it all some times.

    Have a great changing people’s thinking one person at a time day.

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    • Bill says:

      I worry about what our culture will be like when no one remembers farm life and we’re entirely disconnected from our food source.

      You’ve done a good thing by introducing your grandson to the actual production of real food. No matter what else happens, I’m sure he’ll always remember helping you in your garden and having the experience of harvesting corn he helped plant.

      Like

  3. The red pepper of hope! I noticed the company sponsor at the end. I’m curious (and I’m off to answer my own questions) to know if that’s a marketing strategy or a true business practice/philosophy, which, I suppose, is the intent of the video. Powerful, indeed, and yes, an important message.

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    • Bill says:

      I’m very dubious about Chipolte. But I heard recently heard a farmer from Kentucky say that they have been very supportive of small and sustainable farmers in his state. I’m not sure.

      But the video is visually very compelling. I just ignore the fact that it’s a type of ad. Nothing about it makes me want to buy a burrito.

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      • I went to the company website and it got me to thinking, for sure.

        On one hand, they do leave a little wiggle room in their language (e.g., “whenever possible” they employ their “food with integrity” principles); on the other hand, at least their speaking the language and are aware that it’s important to at least some of their customer and/or investor base.

        Reading between the lines is a (former) occupational hazard for me, so I might have been overly critical.

        I only got as far as the most recent quarterly filing, wandered off on a tangential thought, realized I was starting to think too much, and stopped. It would be interesting to see the real numbers in terms of the types and locations of farms that supply them. I started to miss some of the resources I used to have at my disposal for looking into those things, so I went to watch television instead.

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  4. Amy Lou says:

    That video choked me up a little. When I got to the end, presented with the ubiquitous face of the shiny iPad and a downloadable video game, I was momentarily put off. But thinking about it further I got really hopeful. In a world where most people are fairly hypnotized by technological whatnots, the fact that a company is putting money and effort into an actual message about our food–and molding that message into a format that slips right into the techno-stream–makes me think this nutty idea of conscious eating might actually be taking hold. Yes!

    Like

    • Bill says:

      I give them credit for putting it out there. It at least suggests that they’re serious.

      But I appreciate the video for its message and for its visual impact. And I think you’re right that they wouldn’t create something like this unless there is a market for it.

      Like

  5. EllaDee says:

    I was one of those people. I hadn’t a clue that food had gotten so corporatised.
    Great clip. I shared it on my Facebook page. I have been heartened to see an increase in TV advertising promoting cage free eggs and sow stall free bacon here in Australia. Baby steps I know but indicative of consumer pressure not only for cheap products but ethical. The companies would not be bothering otherwise.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      Absolutely. When we start seeing corporations selling ethically-produced food it means we’re winning. They will sell what people are willing to buy. The way to end factory-farming is for us to quit buying factory-food.

      Glad you shared the video.

      Like

  6. Chipotle’s did another video a couple of years back http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMfSGt6rHos
    I noticed there is a little more “marketing” in the first one than in the scarecrow one, but hey – if it gets people to start thinking about their food choices, then I’m all for it. You need to reach people and in order to do that you have to speak their language or find some thing they can relate to.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      I’ve seen that one too. I give them lots of credit for putting this out there, but I wonder whether they’re really part of the solution or not.

      I like everything about the Scarecrow video. It’s very well done and I can relate to the scarecrow’s experience. 🙂

      Like

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