The Iconic Farmer’s Daughter

 

 

 

 

 

Others in the class have posted about the infamous Super Bowl commercial God Made a FarmerFarmer’s have recently become more iconic than ever in a nostalgic, return to the land way, but there is another side to the story. 

Young farmers are turning up all over the country in traditional farming communities and urban environments alike. In this article highlighting the farming youth, 40 Farmers Under 40, 19 of the 40 farmers featured were female. The article highlights this trend, “They’re urban, they hold advanced degrees and they’re often female.” A New York Times article covering the phenomenon of young, highly educated people going back to the land after earning their prestigious degrees mentioned several young, male farmers, but focused mainly on one young female.

Our New Food Activism class is overwhelmingly female, when we had farmers as guest speakers a few weeks ago, they were all female so it is clear that women are involved in this field in very valuable ways. If this is so clearly the case, why are some people so slow to catch on?

I got this email from Free People a few weeks ago- I took a screen shot of the image:ImageAccording to their marketing, the farmer’s daughter is still the alluring woman in this industry- not the female farmer. This girl with her sultry eyes, lacy dress, and arm full of bangles is not giving off the vibe of helpful farmhand, but rather temptress. This idea is pretty widespread. Rodney Atkins sings his story of a relationship with the farmer’s daughter. “Just when I thought it couldn’t get no hotter, I caught a glimpse of the farmer’s daughter,” he sings and reminisces about how she got him through that grueling work because she was so pretty. And apparently Free People isn’t the only one to imagine a farmer’s daughter as dressed up and more glamorous than a farmer as Atkins remembers “draggin my butt to work with the smell of her perfume on my shirt”.

Personally, I thought this song was pretty funny, and probably only did a double take when I got Free People’s email because of this class. Understandably, the lingering smell of perfume is much more appealing to everyone than the lingering smell of body odor, and an upscale clothing ad romanticizing female farmers would be just as ridiculous as the farmer’s daughter, but still I’d like to see more representations of female farmer’s in popular media and advertisements. There are women doing great things to change the agricultural industry, let’s recognize the female position on a farm as something other than the temptress, farmer’s daughter. 

 

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How are “Cuties” Made for Kids?

 

 

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I’m sure you have all see those commercials for “cuties” the clementines MADE for kids. If not, here they are: 1, 2, 3, 4.

This marketing campaign has always rubbed me the wrong way. This company is literally admitting that they genetically modify their foods to satisfy a human desire (which is apparently that kids need small, sweet, seedless, easy to eat fruit more than the rest of the world). On one of the youtube videos, the Cuties company commented saying Cuties are not genetically modified. However, on their website, they say “CUTIES® undergo rigorous inspection to ensure superior quality, high sugar levels and minimal seed content. With such strict quality control, you’re assured that CUTIES® are the best-tasting”. This doesn’t sound very natural to me. Also the history page explains the history of the plant which in fact has been transported all over the world, has been bred to suit human desires, and were first grown in the US in a research center. This smells like genetic modification to me. 

It just cracks me up that this entire campaign is centered around how this fruit caters to humans and that is the reason we should all eat it. Since when do plants “naturally” cater to humans? Obviously the clementine didn’t one day decide to shrink itself, eliminate it’s seeds, make itself sweeter, or make itself easier to peel just because human children would like that. 

Are We Addicted to Food?

There was a New York Times magazine article last week that gave a fascinating behind the scenes look into the junk/ processed food industry. The amount of money spent on perfecting food that is horrible for us is astronomical. On the research and development end, there is so much thought (and money) that goes into every ingredient, every hint of flavor, how everything feels in your mouth, and every ounce of force required to bite a chip. Just imagine if all that money was put to a culinary cause that could benefit us rather than harm us. Even financially that could make sense- if your customers live longer they buy your product for longer, but in reality, it is in the best interest of these large corporations to steer customers as far from moderation as possible. In that article it even mentioned that CocaCola doesn’t target people who may have a coke on occasion, its primary audience is the “heavy user” who drinks three cokes a day!

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This article also likened marketing junk food to kids (like this Lunchables commercial) to marketing tobacco to kids: they are both unhealthy substances that young brains are not developed enough to make their own decisions about. That Lunchables commercial is especially disturbing because it encourages kids to use food as a way to escape from their parents’ rules and expectations- it uses junk food as a method of rebellion and independence. Personally, I think it is dangerous to use food as a method for anything other than fueling your body.

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As I am very interested in marketing, all of this really piqued my interest. Is there no limit to how much junk food these “heavy users” (heavy being the key word here) will buy? As more research comes in, apparently not. There is more and more evidence surfacing about the addictive qualities of junk food. The amount of salt and sugar overwhelm our senses and cause us to crave more, much like a drug. Also much like a drug, we continue to buy it and eat it when we know it is bad for us. This article from Prevention gives great research, testimonials, and even advice for breaking a food addiction. I had never really heard of the concept of food addiction before, but that article makes good sense. It explains how our brains are not equipped to handle the incredible amounts of sugar and salt that food industries have poured into our food in the past few decades. The internal response is very similar to that of a drug: it is soothing and pleasurable. Perhaps the most telling evidence is that if one were to ask drug users and food addicts similar questions about their habits such as “do you know it is bad for you and consume it anyway?” the answers are strikingly similar.

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Just like so many other issues in our society I just keep thinking this has to be a bubble like the housing/ mortgage bubble. It just has to burst at some point. How can we keep eating this junk to excess? How can we keep letting this food control us: control our brains? When will enough be enough? Sadly, I think the answer is when all this junk food stops bringing in such a profit.

America’s “Healthiest” Grocery Store

Apparently, when you’re America’s Healthiest Grocery store you need to alert the world on your brown paper bags. Image

The Pollan article I discussed last week stressed that if a food is making bold health claims on the packaging, chances are there are healthier things to eat. I have a feeling that this remains true with grocery stores as well, especially considering that statement is marked as a registered trademark meaning that it is not a fact. It is just a marketing ploy, a tagline. 

The marketing doesn’t stop there. All sides of this bag are covered with bold claims and justification for all the money the consumer just spent on overpriced groceries. Image

What better justification could there be than “improving lives with every purchase”? (Again another registered trademark and not an actual fact) Whole Foods is all about convincing the consumer they made the right choice including emphasizing the vitamins in bell peppers, for example, as well as their ability to “power [you] up”. If the health values of the food itself isn’t enough, they also stress the social benefits to shopping at Whole Foods aka “better wages and working conditions, environmental responsibility and community development”.

On the other side, Whole Foods goes a step farther. After justifying your previous action of purchasing groceries at Whole Foods, they suggest a few small lifestyle changes including trying new, exotic vegetables, adding enhancers to your water (plain water is just SO pedestrian these days), and using the butchers as meat consultants.

ImageAdditionally, this side makes the bold, mathematical claim that “healthy=convenient” aka health and convenience are interchangeable, especially at Whole Foods. This is a promotion for their prepared foods which are inherently more processed than the raw ingredients, and thus probably less healthy.

The final side proves once and for all that “healthy” is the most important message Whole Foods is trying to convey to their consumers with the statements “healthy tastes good” and “health starts here”.

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Whole Foods is trying to view this “health” holistically by indicating that in addition to their “health” food, they also promote health socially and environmentally.

In this day and age, what does health really mean? Is it medical, social, environmental? Who constructs “health” and what it means to be “healthy”? Is there any room for variability? Is healthy just a marketing ploy or something more?

In this case, it seems to be a marketing ploy especially because registered trademark symbols cover the bag. I’ll stick with Pollan’s idea. I’ll buy my red peppers from wherever I like because they will still have vitamin C and “power [me] up” but I don’t need to announce this to the world via my shopping bag.