Boycotting over food marketing only hurts farmers
I am a farm wife and a cattleman's wife and I refuse to boycott. I refuse. There isn't anything, short of flat out attacking me or my family personally, that will cause me to limit my eating and shopping choices.
Why? Why, when so many companies have such inflammatory marketing campaigns and poor representation of everyday farmers? It's simple really. I refuse to make the farmer who provides wheat for the bread to the local Subway suffer. I refuse to take the profit away from my
own family and community. I refuse to make the single mom behind the checkout at the up-scale grocery store lose her job because I participated in their profit margin going down.
Behind every horrible marketing gimmick are dozens and dozens of innocent people who not only rely on their jobs, but their families and communities do as well.
Behind every "we never use antibiotics" ad from stores like Subway is still a large organization of farmers, truckers, assembly line workers and frontline workers whose very lives depend on people like me actively choosing to purchase their product. Behind every Whole Foods grocery store, where the non-GMO fad is still raging, there are still local farmers who depend on that support, and I will gladly give them mine.
The marketing campaigns these two businesses in particular have embarked on have upset the agriculture community. It's not that I don't understand it, I just choose to continue to support farmers and others who depend on them for income instead of actively avoiding them.
Being a farm wife and cattleman's wife, I know the process of growing food. I know the TV commercials aren't always realistic or even truthful. I know the reality behind growing, harvesting and transporting commodities to their intended processing facilities. I also practice what I preach.
I believe in our products. I believe in our work. I believe that, regardless of the mishaps, the United States has the safest food in the world. I know that there is a waiting period after an animal receives medication before it is put in the food chain. I know that livestock farmers would rather not treat their animals if they don't have to, because it is expensive. I know that the grain farmers would rather not spray or "douse" their crops with any chemical unless it's absolutely necessary for the overall production of the crop — again it is very expensive.
As a farm wife and a mom, I believe it's my job and my duty to help educate the masses about what we do and how we do it. Even if it's one person at a time.
I can't be a hypocrite where my family's livelihood is concerned. If we choose to continue to give our dollars, especially to those places that don't always tell our reality, then we can keep the dialog open and honest. If I treat the interactions with these companies as teaching and learning opportunities, then I have furthered the work and conversation of real agriculture, as opposed to shutting down and engaging in passive aggressive behavior, which never really solves anything. Let's face it — Whole Foods won't miss me if I choose to not shop there, nor will the restaurants miss my lunch once a week. On the off chance that they do, they'll adjust the bottom line with layoffs and that will only further the issues in communities.
As farmers, farm spouses and farm kids, we have a huge opportunity and responsibility to engage and educate in these situations. If we don't even show up because we are boycotting then we miss the best opportunity to listen, have a conversation and educate.
Editor’s note: Amber Taylor is a stay-at-home farm wife and mom in north central Oklahoma. Her family grows wheat, soybeans and raises black angus cattle.