So, last night I was scrolling through my newsfeed after being on somewhat of a social media hiatus. Summer is good for that. There is so much more to do than sit at a computer or tap away at a phone. In fact, I’ve given myself 30 minutes to type, edit and publish this post. Out my office window, a lawn, gardens, three bucket calves and a lazy farm dog are beckoning. These things are good for the soul.
What isn’t good for the soul, mind or body is yet another video of an animated character telling us to be very afraid our food. I will not be linking to said video so as to not spread the stupidity or give it more exposure. For background purposes though, here’s the issue: Mr. Seed produced for the Clif Bar Family Foundation does more than raise an eyebrow. The main character, an angry little seed, uses profanity and every hot button ag issue found online to rant against farms and agriculture as we know them today. It would appear the point of the video is to promote organic agriculture; however, folks on all sides of the ag aisle are in an uproar.
Clif Bar is a privately owned food company with a fun back story, feel-good marketing and LOTS of labels on their snack products. Their middle-finger waving Mr. Seed flies in the face of feel-good.
Farmers are asking, what do we do? How can we allow this type of thing to continue? How low can food fear marketing go? Granted, folks who are producing a differentiated product have every right to promote said product, but if I were an organic farmer, I’d be livid. Farmers – regardless of the how of their farm – work hard, long hours to provide for their family in an incredibly volatile marketplace. Reducing all that effort to a five-minute animated video filled with profane language and misinformation is insulting.
Now I could walk through the video and provide a link to an article or one of my own posts refuting every. single. thing Mr. Seed said. But I gave myself 30 minutes.
Instead, I’ll offer these thoughts to my fellow farmers and ranchers. Life is not about what we have but how we behave and how we make others feel. For a few years now, we have been making every effort to peel back whatever shroud there was around agriculture to make people feel better about what we do. Videos such as this are click-bait and might resonate in an annual corporate report, but no one is feeling anything but disgust, fear, confusion, and frustration.
No one shows up to a funeral because an individual made them feel bad about their choices. When we leave this planet, sure we’ll leave things – including tweets, blog posts, Instagram pics, and more – but the relationships that create the lives we live are what will be celebrated.
So, farmers, how do you respond to Mr. Seed? You don’t. Not to him directly. You continue to share the legacy of your family and farm, the whys and hows of what you do every day, the challenges, the tears, the achievements and laughter. Talk about your story and no one else. People will feel your authenticity, your vulnerability and will feel good for knowing you, not an animated version who can’t mind his manners.