ROC president’s statement on the controversy over the Hulu series “Farmed and Dangerous”

ROC president’s statement on the controversy over the Hulu series “Farmed and Dangerous”

February 22, 2014 Michael R. Dimock

The “Farmed and Dangerous” series now airing on Hulu causes discomfort for many actors seeking changes in food and farming, including ROC. We think this discomfort is a good thing. It causes all those who feel it to deepen their own clarity about their goals and roles. Even more importantly, if this series, produced by Chipotle, a company intimately familiar with meat production and sourcing, satirically highlights industrial food’s willingness to profit at the expense of animals, ecosystems and humans, then we say bring it on. It will cause still more people to focus on the major food system challenges of our time and that remains a critical strategic need for the food movement today.

ROC loves agriculture and we are committed to its sustainable future. This requires that we ride a fine line. We seek to maintain continuous dialog and support for agriculture because it is essential, the base of civilization, and a central cultural and economic component of the nation that we must not lose. At the same time, we want agriculture and the big food manufacturing companies it feeds to accelerate their adaptation to the needs of this century: public health and ecological resilience.

Sadly there is continuing and substantial resistance to needed changes such as overuse of antibiotics in livestock, nitrogen fertilizer in cropland and sugar, salt and fat in manufactured foods. The industrial approach to food and agricultural production remains overly dependent on toxic chemicals and fossil fuel and wage structures from field to table that keep too many in poverty.

Unfortunately, most people in this country are still not yet sufficiently focused on these issues to ensure creation of public and private sector goals and investments that will remake the food system. Thus, we applaud those activities that raise the issues and cause them to be seen and heard by more and more people.

We also understand the position of many of our allies and colleagues who say “Farmed and Dangerous” is too tough, too polarizing because it portrays agriculture as a villain.

We respectfully disagree however because most Americans are smart enough to know satire when they see it. From “Duck Dynasty” to “The Colbert Report,” American airwaves are full of comedy, much of it satirical, which advocates and entertains. It is called “infotainment” and has been with us for decades.

It is ROC’s desire that our nation love agriculture because of its role in our lives, its contribution to our health and the resilience of our communities. Yet too many threats to health and resilience remain and that is why the food system must change. “Farmed and Dangerous” may help the change happen more quickly. As we know from our most important relationships, tough love is sometimes needed.