Food betrayal — don’t swallow the lies | Alan Lewis | TEDxBoulder

Food betrayal — don’t swallow the lies | Alan Lewis | TEDxBoulder

January 6, 2020 100 By Ewald Bahringer


Translator: Ilze Garda
Reviewer: Denise RQ This is the webpage
for a popular national yogurt company. At first glance, you might think that your popular yogurt,
your most favorite yogurt, comes from a beautiful,
lovely place like this, and you’d probably be wrong. This is what a real dairy looks like. The cows in these dairies spend
most of their adult lives inside crowded barns or outside,
in dry lots with no vegetation. The stress of this environment
causes them disease which is treated with antibiotics
and other drugs. And this is not a particularly bad dairy, this is a common dairy run
by a hard-working American farm family according to industry best practices. The problem is a third of the cows
in this dairy will get so sick every year that the cost of their medical treatment
exceeds the value of their milk, and the dairyman has to send Elsie
off to the slaughterhouse where she’s ground up into this. How did we get from those
beautiful, green, sunny pastures to unwittingly feeding
sick cows to our kids? This is the work of the secret society
of the fibberati. (Laughter) The fibberati are well-trained experts trained in circumventing
government regulations and manipulating
your consumer expectations. If you have ever lifted up a food package, read the ingredient label
and felt that you were being lied to, that is the dark mark of the fibberati. (Laughter) (Feeble applause) Now, I’m one of those guys
that loves [his] job, I’m passionate about it, I work
for a chain of hippie grocery stores, and one of my jobs is to make sure we know what matters to our customers,
what products they want. So I work with farmers,
ranchers, and dairies, and this is how we are aware
of pastured dairy with the cows that live on pastures
during the grazing season, they live longer, [have many fewer medications]
and a superior milk product. This caused us to ask a question, “What if we only sold dairy products made with milk from pastured,
non-confinement dairies, those beautiful dairies represented
in the dairy advertising?” So we went to our biggest
yogurt suppliers, and we asked them a few questions,
“Where are your cows right now? What are they eating right now,
and where are your pastures?” Surprisingly,
most of the national brands told us to jump in the lake, take a hike,
“We don’t know.”,”We don’t care.” So we called their bluff. We removed their products from our stores, we put these in; these are the yogurts
from pastured, not-in-confinement dairies. Our customers loved this because not only these products
just feel better to eat in your bones, but our customers could actually
contribute and support the more sustainable, responsible
dairy management practices for just a few pennies more per serving. When you get hate mail
from the dairy lobby, you know you’ve hit the right nerve. (Laughter) But what is so revolutionary
about taking a dairy cow, putting her in a dairy pasture
where she can eat fresh grass? I’ve got two more examples for you,
I’m going to go through them quickly. This is a little more
close-to-home product, a totally fictitious company named LOSTCO. I buy this ham– (Laughter) I buy this ham, I bring it home,
I read the ingredients label, at the bottom it says, “Less than 2%
of each of these ingredients.” Well, you know, I went
to public school, I did the math: five, six ingredients means
that 10% of that ham can be chemicals. So what you do is you take
a pound of nitrates, phosphates, erythorbates, juvenile reprobates, you mix them up with hog juice – I’m not going to tell you
what hog juice is, I swear – and you inject that slurry
into eight pounds of meat, and Presto Change-o,
it’s what’s for dinner. This was inedible.
Little bit closer to home. So I’m the guy who calls
COSTCO and complains, and they send me to the big conglomerate
that makes this product. I’m talking to a guy, and I just imagine him there
in his blue suit jacket, his white shirt, his blue tie, his jeans, his black shoes, and his yellow hair, and this is what he tells me, “If I don’t cure it with chemicals,
it’s not a ham.” [It’s just a leg of pork.] Kind of leaves you breathless. Now, closer to home, Yucky’s Market; [its] famous saying,
“We test for antibiotic residues.” So, two sentences of science,
follow along. You take antibiotics
that accumulate in the kidneys, and you pee them out, got that? The government-approved
tests for antibiotic residues, test the counts of bacteria
in a kidney tissue when the animal is harvested. A good bacteria count means that the antibiotics have already
passed through the animal. The very proud guys behind the meat case
at Yucky’s, this fictitious place, told me proudly they personally choose the meat samples
to be sent out for testing, and I guarantee you there is no way that the antibiotic test on kidney tissue
is going to find an antibiotic residue on a porterhouse. This begs the question: why is Lucky’s testing
for antibiotics anyway? Well, here’s your hint. It’s no wonder that conventional
food sales are down, and it’s no wonder
that natural and organic sales are up. The industry has a response for this because they know that you’re figuring out
what’s going on beyond the scenes. They do two things: first,
they try to redefine natural. Here you have conventional,
here you have natural, let’s redefine it, bring those conventional foods
over to natural, so you’ll buy them. That lasts as long as it takes you
to lawyer up, sue them, and settle for tens
of millions of dollars; didn’t work out too well for the industry. The other thing that the industry does is “Well, let’s at least
throw them a bone, we’ll have a banned ingredients list.” Notice Simple Truth; if that’s green and white,
that means it’s healthy by the way. Just look for the green and white. So 101 ingredients that are suspect,
and they ban them; well, actually, it’s 99,
a couple are listed more than once, and by the way, that’s 99 out of 10,000 legal substances
in the Food Chemicals Codex. What the hell is going on? And for the video,
what the heck is going on? (Laughter) Well, I’ll tell you. (Laughter) The fibberati are over here,
talking about labels, and standards, and organic, and natural, and food safety, because they don’t want you to know
what they’ve been doing over here. Only a handful of companies now control all the fertilizers, pesticides, seeds,
and Ag-equipment sold around the globe. Same thing for processing animals,
processing grain, processing dairy. If you go to your typical supermarket, 7 out of 10 products you see on the shelf
were made in the same factories by the same people,
with the same ingredients, from one, four, five,
six global food conglomerates. They’ve taken away your ability
to choose what you eat, and that dairy farmer we saw earlier
has to operate her dairy that way, she doesn’t choose who buys her milk, and she doesn’t have a say
in how much they pay her. Even worse, farming incomes are down
drastically in just the last 10 years. So big food, big ag
are keeping more for themselves, even as grocery prices continue to rise. Ironically, you’ll be glad to know that a lot of that money goes to pay
for marketing and promotion campaigns to counteract and offset your suspicions
about what they’re doing. Now, back to my job which I love. I think my boss is here, that’s good. (Laughter) This is the fibberati’s biggest fear: this is Matt and Elisa, they produce
farm-raised eggs outside of Boulder, actually further outside of Boulder,
but in Colorado. These are the eggs in the pink cartons,
there is my plug. (Laughter) They have thousands of birds that ride around and live
in open-sided hen houses; that are on wheels and are rotated
through real, actual pastures where they can eat
real, actual bugs and grass. I’ve met a lot of these
peaceful people recently. They are fiercely independent, proud,
and they are rabble-rousers, but I need to take a moment and really explain to you
how they feel about being farmers. “I will not be your subsistence farmer. I will not indenture my family to anyone. I will not poison my soil with petrochemical fertilizers,
pesticides, or, God forbid, GMOs. I will charge a fair price
for the goods I produce based on the true cost of producing them, and I will leave a productive,
healthy farm to my kids.” When the fibberati hear the words ‘freedom’
and ‘independence’ from a farmer, it sends them into a panic,
so I’ll change the tables and tell you what the fibberati whisper
behind your back, “You are the real food elitists,
you value artisanal food that the rest of America
cannot begin to afford. You are afraid of chemicals
and genetic engineering that will feed the world. You have no faith in science being able
to solve the problem that it has created.” That’s how the fibberati
sow seeds of doubt. If you let them convince you of that,
if you believe that, then their job is done. Don’t swallow that lie. So let’s talk about elitism real quick. If your food choices ensure that a farmer can pay his bills,
feed his family, send his kids to college
and have a farm to leave them, that is not elitism. Elitism in the food world is being willfully ignorant
of the indenture of American farmers. Elitism is the corporation that seeks
the benefit from a food system based on the economic exploitation
of the American heartland, and that is the great betrayal. Now, here’s what I think. I think we’ve lost the food war, I think big ag, big food,
and the fiberatti beat us bad. There was no pitched battle, there was no détente,
there was no surrender, they simply, slowly, quietly,
took away our choices. I don’t think we are combatants
in a food war, I believe we are the resistance
in a food occupation. So this is my message: call the fibberati’s bluff,
join the resistance, don’t swallow the lies. Thank you, good night, and good luck. (Applause)