Tag Archives: PR

Have you had your flu shot yet?

It’s totally understandable, after the public reactions to the H1N1 scare and controversy a few years back, that the drug cartel PR machine would be re-calibrated for the new environment. And this year it seems we’re starting to see some of the next generation of “grey magic” from those quarters. Amy Parker’s story, “Growing Up Unvaccinated”, excerpted below from Slate, and which has been widely reprinted, including in the Toronto Star, takes aim squarely at the advocates of a natural lifestyle, perhaps because they have been vaccination’s most outspoken critics.

It’s also worth noting that there was a recent controversy in Canada recently in which stocks of free vaccine were supposedly depleted and the question was, is it right for a drug store to take advantage of the situation by charging people $20 for a flu shot from the store’s own supply. The (not so hidden) message here is that the flu shot is so popular that stocks run out and people — Canadians even — willingly pay $20 to get it. Could the vaccine makers be taking a page from Steve Jobs’ playbook in creating artificial shortages to boost buzz around their product?

Screen grab from the Slate story by Amy Parker

“I am the ’70s child of a health nut. I wasn’t vaccinated. I was brought up on an incredibly healthy diet: no sugar till I was 1, breastfed for over a year, organic homegrown vegetables, raw milk, no MSG, no additives, no aspartame. My mother used homeopathy, aromatherapy, osteopathy; we took daily supplements of vitamin C, echinacea, cod liver oil.

I had an outdoor lifestyle; I grew up next to a farm in England’s Lake District, walked everywhere, did sports and danced twice a week, drank plenty of water. I wasn’t even allowed pop; even my fresh juice was watered down to protect my teeth, and I would’ve killed for white, shop-bought bread in my lunchbox once in a while and biscuits instead of fruit, like all the other kids. Continue reading

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Big dairy on the defensive?

From Andy Bellatti on Grist.org:

There was a time, not too long ago, when American’s milk options were limited to various forms of cow’s milk (i.e. full-fat, reduced-fat, skim, lactose-free). But times have changed. Soy was the first non-dairy milk to “go mainstream” in the mid 1990s, and you can find “milk” varieties including almond, coconut, hazelnut, hemp, oat, and sunflower seed on supermarket shelves,

Much like an only child who is the center of attention until a sibling comes along, Big Dairy has started to lash out. “Alternative milks” are no longer relegated to the vegan world; many vegetarians and omnivores also purchase and consume plant-based milks. This is bad news for Big Dairy (a.k.a. The California Milk Processor Board).

Behold their latest campaign — “Real Milk Comes From Cows” (tagline: “many imitations, still no equal”). The idea, apparently, is to point out all the ways in which plant-based milks have cooties. One of their inane recent ads can be seen in the screenshot below:

Image via Grist.org

Coconut milk is described as “spooky” for looking so “real,” or similar to cow’s milk. Hazelnut milk is supposed to creep us out because of the “stuff on the bottom,” Almond milk is dissed for having a “funky” color, and soy milk is unveiled as a product that doesn’t come from a cow (when did it ever claim to?). Continue reading

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Big ag launches media campaign to counter claims of the food activists

By Alan Rappeport in New York – from the Financial Times

Big US farming groups are joining forces in a multimillion dollar marketing campaign to respond to attacks by activists and small farmers that accuse them of promoting unhealthy food and abusing animals.

The outreach comes at a time of growing tension between industrial agriculture groups and small farmers and activists who argue that “factory farming” is inhumane to animals and produces food that leads to obesity and illness.

The effort also coincides with the US food industry coming under pressure to contain a salmonella outbreak this month that has been linked to ground turkey processed by Cargill, the US meatpacker. The US Centers for Disease Control said more than 100 people have been affected by the outbreak, with one death. Continue reading

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Agribiz realizes it has a PR problem

From The Ethicurean:

Spin-dustrial ag: Two dozen of the nation’s largest and best-funded farm groups have formed a coalition to counter poor publicity, reports the AP (LAtimes.com). What are they mad about? “Videos that show male chicks being put into grinders, egg-laying hens in battery cages and the mistreatment of hogs in large confinement operations,” — you know, evidence of industrial farming’s everyday practices. (It’s all about the) money quote:

Joe Cornely, a spokesman for the Ohio Farm Bureau, said the alliance may help create more realistic expectations among consumers. “So often people advocate for a utopian world and it’s not doable,” Cornely said. “Feeding the world requires us to kick up some dirt and create a few odors. That is just a reality of producing food and fiber that may not fit in with the utopian vision. The vast majority of people are reasonable people, they just need to know that you can’t have the perfect world.”…”

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If “Raw Milk is not the answer”, then what was the question?

The following is an excerpt from a letter to the editor by Tom Womack, Director of Public Affairs, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, which appears on the “Metro Pulse” website:

Web page header from Metro Pulse

“Raw Milk is Not the Answer”

“…Since 2006, through the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program, the department has invested nearly $6 million in hundreds of projects to help Tennessee farmers diversify to new and emerging farm opportunities, including agri-tourism, grape growing, honey production, organics, and value-added production of dairy and other products. There are numerous examples where Tennessee farmers are finding success through direct-to-consumer sales by producing high quality and safe products. Additional investments have been made in developing farmers markets and other infrastructure, and promotions to support direct-to-consumer sales. Continue reading

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Anti-raw-milk propaganda reaches new level of sophistication in Slate.com story

In a piece worthy of a PR firm like Hill and Knowlton, this latest informational offensive from defenders of pasteurization aims to paint raw milk enthusiasts as cultist and unscientific. Here’s an excerpt from the story “Dairy Cult” as carried in Friday’s National Post. The story is credited to Deborah Blum, of Slate.com:

In February, 1907, a New York physician discovered that his longtime dairy supplier had switched to pasteurized milk. He so detested the practice — not to mention the taste — that, as he wrote to the New York Times, he would rather “run the risk of typhoid, scarlet fever, diphtheria, and tuberculosis rather than [endure] the evils that I believe would follow the systematic and prolonged use of pasteurized milk.” Continue reading

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Is this really local homegrown astroturf?

Is somebody feeling a little defensive?

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