Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Licence to Farm Review (Rant)

6 Comments

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Photo credit: Randall Andrews

As a “consumer” this short documentary wasn’t made for me. It was made for farmers. Maybe that means that my opinions don’t matter. The beauty of having my own blog is that I can opine about anything I desire.

I had many thoughts as I watched the film. I’m very in support of farmers speaking out and as a non-farmer I often look to them for expert opinions. That being said, while this film purported to be about empowering farmers to speak out to me (and your opinion may differ) it felt like a thinly veiled piece of pro-GM (genetic modification) propaganda.

The bulk of the film was about how large-scale farms, GM crops, and pesticides are not bad things. The film urged farmers to speak out in the face of ignorant consumer demands. They also said that we (the unwashed consumer masses) need to hear about the benefits of GMOs and pesticides from the farmers, not from the companies making them. Personally, as a consumer I’d like to hear from both sources but even more so, from independent scientists who don’t have skin in the game. Sorry, I loathe that saying.

It bothered me that the implication was that consumers are too dumb to formulate our own opinions. Yes, I know, people are often irrational and misinformed. However, everyone is a consumer in some regard. Farmers don’t usually grow every single product they consume. You would think that there would be a recognition that a canola farmer (for example) while very knowledgable in that area is not an expert in all things farm. We are not mutually exclusive populations. We are all people. You don’t need to speak to us like “consumers”. Speak to us like human beings. Okay, despite how it sounds, that only bothered me a little bit. The thing that bothered me the most was the one-sidedness of the film.

Why does it seem like every documentary that comes out these days is wholly biased? I suppose it’s the funders, the sensationalism, or the certainty of the filmmakers that they’re in the right. Whatever the reason, it makes it me get my back-up, regardless of the message, even if I was on your side before I watched I’m less likely to be there after. If you’re only going to show me people who are completely biased then I’m going to be much less likely to buy what you’re saying. Don’t diss organic farmers and try to tell everyone that they eschew modern technology. Don’t try to tell me that only large-scale mono-cropping is a viable method of farming. Try to at least respect the choices of others; both within your field (haha) and outside it.

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Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

6 thoughts on “Licence to Farm Review (Rant)

  1. Consumers are very susceptible to media and marketing, so when they see an image using the terms “factory farm”, “doused with chemicals”, “hormones in your meat” they are liable to believe it, especially in a world where we’re subject to a 30 second news story. I see this played out all the time.

    Couple that with the thought that somehow the way we “used to farm” was somehow superior than what we’re doing today and you have a recipe for a population that can have damaging effects on people who have tight margins, large investments and a lot of skin in the game. Can’t say I really blame them for trying to change perceptions.

    In a way, it’s not that they don’t want to talk intelligently about it, it’s that another side has pushed the image of conventional agriculture so far back, that it has been forced to be aggressive about it. Can’t really absolve them of guilt, in my opinion.

    Just my $0.02!

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    • You make a lot of good points. But why the need to refer to “consumers” as if they are “other” and somehow more susceptible to marketing than farmers (or whoever is meant to not be a consumer).

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  2. To me, the success of Rachel Parent, Dr. Oz and all sorts of other quacks is a testament to how susceptible consumers are.
    The anti-gmo side has used fear to instil this view that any way other than organic/non-gmo/natural farming is the only way. Therefore I can’t really blame this movie for trying to push back.

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  3. I think the farmers in the documentary actually did talk about also being consumers…
    And did anyone claim that they knew everything? I didn’t hear that…they only spoke about their area of expertise.

    The people in the video are frustrated with what they hear about farming and food – misinformation that makes it sound like people are being force-fed unsafe food. So they decided they should do something about it. It was made – and mainly funded by – farmers who are passionate about what they do and about the land where they make a living.
    Jackie Robin
    Ag-West Bio

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    • I must have missed that bit (about farmers speaking about also being consumers).

      I didn’t say that anyone claimed they knew everything. It was the sentiment that consumers are completely ignorant about everything food and that farmers know all.

      I realize that others came away from the film with entirely different feelings than I did. This review only reflects my personal opinions.

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