Television personality and media mogul Oprah Winfrey has had a long-standing beef with the cattle industry. In 1996 Oprah fueled unreasonable Mad Cow fears by swearing off beef. Fifteen years and several lawsuits later, beef still seems to be in Oprah’s sights, so it wasn’t a big surprise that many protein companies issued a quick “no, thanks” when they were invited to be part of a show last February that featured Oprah and her staff participating in a “Vegan Challenge.” Also featured on the show were the foodies’ favorite fiction writer Michael Pollan and vegan weight-loss guru Kathy Freston
The deck was unquestionably stacked, but the Cargill Company, realizing a lot was at “steak,” decided to call Winfrey’s hand and walked away from the table the big winner. Cargill’s Fort Morgan plant manager Nicole Johnson-Hoffman was immediately catapulted from businesswoman to agri-media “rock star” as a result of her performance on the show.
The beef industry can now take some solace in the fact that they are not the only target the Oprah Media Machine is seeking to roll over. I guess it seems a little disingenuous to me for Industrial Entertainment to be throwing stones at so-called factory farming, as they do in the November issue of “O, The Oprah Magazine” which features an article entitled One Woman Takes a Brave Stand Against Factory Farming
As the title implies, it is the one-sided story of one woman campaigning against confined feeding operations in Michigan. I encourage you to read the article, but read it on-line at oprah.com. http://www.oprah.com/world/Health-Risks-That-Large-Factory-Farming-Leaves-Behind Don’t buy the magazine – Oprah doesn’t need your money.
As you read the article it becomes apparent that writer Kathy Dobie is clueless when it comes to agriculture. There’s lots of emotion and hyperbole, but no balance. Most sadly, it deliberately pits “small farmers” against their “factory farm” neighbors – who are nearly all family operations, by the way – in yet another effort to claim the ethical and moral high ground. Sound familiar?
The way I see it, calling questionable farming practices to light is not the real issue here. It’s more about vilifying those you don’t agree with to further your own elitist agenda – and maybe sell a few magazines along the way.