If you can only 'win' an argument by misrepresenting the opposition, you already lost....

Okay - I try not to rant about things I see on social media, but this post has been circulating for a few years now, and it keeps popping up in my Facebook feed...
I feel like it needs to be addressed.

Have you seen this? Read it over.... she makes some good points, right?

I completely agree that a lot of labelling has gotten confusing, and some people misuse and twist words... it's getting harder and harder to trust what you see.

I have seen 'dairy free' and 'gluten-free' stamps on fresh produce! Her example of non-GMO oranges reminds us that labels can imply something about other products.  It implies other oranges might be GMO - which they aren't.

She also lists a lot of great examples of ridiculous claims that should just be common sense - especially the peanut one! And she wraps it all up with "don't be swayed with deceptive advertising". 

HOWEVER - I'm also a huge fan of logic and common sense.

I have no idea who the author is, or what their background in agriculture is... but, 
when people start trying to undermine the things we work hard for by twisting the truth to justify their position... well - that's when the gloves come off!

KIDDING! It's time to bring the truth to the forefront.

The first problem is that when she groups the ridiculous labels and the 'deceptive advertising' with statements about organic milk and beef, she starts making inconsistent comparisons. Plus, she's either ignorant of, or just completely wrong about, some basic realities of farming. 

Primarily, her other examples don't have an existing alternative:
  • GMO oranges haven't been created yet.
  • You can't have peanut butter that isn't exposed to peanuts.
  • There aren't some varieties of apples with gluten.

The alternative doesn't even exist - that's what makes it foolish and deceptive. It's impossible to actually choose the other.

BUT the claim of organic farmers that our milk and beef is 'antibiotic free' is not that there are no traces of antibiotics in the milk or beef - it's that there were never antibiotics used on that animal throughout their entire life.  And that does exist - and it's a real choice.

DID YOU KNOW? Food regulations demand that if an animal is treated with antibiotics, there is a 'withdrawal period' whereby the antibiotics would be fully flushed out of the system before any milk could be shipped or steer could be sent to the butcher.  

THAT'S A GOOD THING, AND TRUST ME - THEY CHECK!  Years and years (and years!) ago, we weren't organic... and we would treat our dairy cows with antibiotics. Those cows would be marked with a band around the leg, and at chore time their milk would be manually diverted to a separate pail. If, by accident, we milked a treated cow into our main tank we would have to dump the entire tank of milk into the pit. I know, because it happened - at least once or twice over the years - and it's a terrible feeling. However, if treated milk contaminated the entire milk truck - the farmer has to pay for the loss of all those litres himself.... It would cost thousands and thousands of dollars for that mistake.

So, in one way, she's kinda right that it's all "antibiotic free" if we are measuring trace amounts of drug residue in the milk or meat. Except, that's NOT WHAT WE ARE CLAIMING. We are saying that we used natural remedies, homeopathy, or alternative healing methods to care for our animals throughout their entire lives. We have NEVER given them antibiotics... EVER. 

I believe this is actually called the "Straw Man Fallacy" - when someone changes or oversimplifies your argument so that their rebuttal actually works.

She misrepresents our actual claim
so that she can discount it more easily.

AND THE HORMONE THING.... geez - someday I will do an entire write up on this topic. 

First - I don't think the claim that ALL living things produce estrogen is actually true. I haven't really found evidence to back that up. If by all she meant MOST, then that's what she should say.  As it is, this is a huge generalization, but I don't think science has her back on that one. 

Second - Once again, she's misrepresenting/oversimplifying the claim that comes from organic producers. We aren't saying animals don't have hormones, or that hormones are never found in meat. We're letting people know that we don't inject (or use) synthetic hormones, or 'natural sex steroids', on our animals at any point in their lives. That's not the same statement.

Third - suffice it to say, it is not hard to look into either the dairy or the beef industry in Canada and learn that many farms use synthetic hormones to either regulate fertility cycles or help growth gains. I'm NOT saying that ALL farms do - I'm just saying it's not uncommon. Again, I know (on the dairy side of things) because we used them. It is not hidden, it's not some dark secret... it's industry standard. Farmers are told this is best for the cows, and the best for your bottom line - you can't do it without...

(SECRET: you can, and we do!) 

And just to be cheeky, I don't think using white bread as a base line for a health debate is a great supporting point for her side of the argument... I mean, really. 


"The dairy industry offers a variety of reproductive management programs, including some that synchronize estrus via hormone protocols."
Ovsynch: Know the options for timing, treatments and protocols - Progressive Dairy | Ag Proud

"Use of growth promotants (hormones, ionophones and beta agonists) in beef cattle production isn’t anything new or covert. The products must be manufactured, tested and proven safe for beef cattle and beef consumers in accordance with Health Canada’s Food and Drugs Act regulations." Straight talk on steroids, hormones in beef (canadiancattlemen.ca)

Maybe we're not only concerned about the levels of estrogen that show up in the meat...

Maybe we want to know about all the different injections?
Maybe we're concerned that animals are having their hormones altered throughout their life? 
Maybe it's about all the needling and the stress it causes them?
Maybe we don't trust the government food agencies to set healthy levels of what is acceptable?

And, ya know what, maybe some people
don't care about all those things...
but how can they really choose, if you don't offer them the truth of both sides? 

To group these real and honest issues in with something as ridiculous as peanut butter exposed to peanuts... and then try to make people who do care about these issues feel foolish or look ignorant - like they should know better than to be 'swayed by deceptive advertising' ... we'll, that's just being manipulative, isn't it?

There will be people who hear about our farm and still choose to eat grocery store beef, or buy from grain-fed farmers, or go for the whole 'eat bugs and be happy' gig ...  we don't need to lie to people about what others do to try and get them to buy our beef. We'll speak about our own experiences, and have open discussions - knowing we won't always agree. I respect that there are a lot of different dynamics that go into how we all choose to eat, and what we prioritize. No judgement here.  

So... I think I'll just stick with telling people the truth and letting them decide for themselves - so far it's working out just fine.  
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