A few weeks ago I recovered from our Stakeholders Summit in Miami, Florida at the BlogHer Food Conference.
Last year, I attended the 2013 BlogHer Food Conference in “Stay Weird” Austin, Texas and had the best time—meeting foodie bloggers, talking about new recipes, perceptions about agriculture and a passion for the written word through blogging.
Not that I didn’t have a great time this year in Miami, but BlogHer was a little different. I remember feeling anxious last year, not knowing what the different bloggers would think when they found out I represented the “big bad” agriculture industry—but my fears were immediately assuaged after being constantly surrounded by inquisitive bloggers, simply eager to learn more about how the food they love to prepare is produced.
This year in Miami, however, the whole vibe of the conference was dramatically different. There were still passionate food bloggers eager to chat about new recipes and the hottest trends for restaurants, retailers and foodies alike. But my “blogger buzz” was seriously “harshed” when I walked into the meeting area to find that ASPCA was a title sponsor and a conference exhibitor. Though their booth was what you would expect—misleading and patently incorrect—what was much more enlightening was the conversation I had with the booth’s staff.
Since the booth had plenty of “information” on so-called Factory Farms, I decided to play dumb and ask to hear a definition for that phrase, straight from the horse’s mouth. After hearing the usual mumbo-jumbo about the “deplorable conditions” “sadistic cross-breeding” etc. I asked, very pointedly, “So, how many animals exactly are on a ‘factory farm’?”
“About 90,” came the response.
Ninety—wow. That’s truly enlightening. The two ASPCA booth representatives went on to describe a world where farm animals have access to the outside—in the pasture, are raised without antibiotics (I’m paraphrasing since they never use the correct terminology) and are fed an “all natural” diet.
“Interesting,” I said. “Because it sounds like what you’re describing is an organic production style.”
Then came the kicker.
“Would you be interested in knowing,” I continued, “that most organic farms have more than 90 animals?”
“Err…could you come back when our Director is here? We just do the PR.”
Well that ended that.
I agreed to come back but never returned, I had made my point—and in front of approximately 20 bloggers too, I just hope that my very innocent questions prompted them to ask some questions before picking up ASPCA’s pamphlets and propaganda.
Read my blog post next week about “Food Babe” and her tirade at the BlogHer Conference. Her unsubstantiated claims are being heard by thousands of followers.