A few days ago a friend alerted me to something posted on the Dillon’s website. This friend was shocked to see a message extolling the environmental benefits of meatless Monday. Yes, this is our Dillons, the grocery store down the block, the store that offers points toward your next gas purchase. This is the same Dillons supermarket chain that started right here in Kansas, and the same Dillons offering that a good way to go green would be to abstain from meat on Mondays.
My first reaction was that they must have forgotten their roots and that is seemed a little funny for a store to promote not buying their product. Dillon’s customers viewing the sight were informed that going “green” could mean forgoing the consumption of meat because it was the most resource intensive food on our table. They went on to say that animal agriculture requires large amounts of water, grain land and soil. Finally, the website stated that reducing the amount of meat we consume would be the single most sustainable decision that could be made.
Before you start a boycott of Dillons, it must be said that following e-mail protests the posting was taken down and the procurement manager had promised that the meatless campaign had been shelved. So for the time being, its seems as though this crisis has been averted by an alert rancher with the awareness to address the situation quickly. Hopefully there were not too many consumers who saw this bad information and fewer still who acted upon it.
However, there is a greater message to come from all of this. Groups who would try to damage animal agriculture are making in-roads into nearly every aspect of our lives. When you have propaganda straight from PETA and HSUS seeping into main-stream grocery store websites with totally false information, you have a problem that must be addressed. That means each and everyone of us should be an advocate for agriculture
Our problem is one of public relations; we are not doing a very good job of getting the word out about how great farmers and ranchers are as stewards of the resources entrusted to us. We take a very limited about of natural resources and produce more food than could have ever been imagined even ten years ago. We also do a wonderful job of protecting the air, soil and water. I would offer up that the meat on your table is actually environmentally friendly.
All agricultural producers constantly strive to develop production methods that leave a smaller environmental footprint. I do not know a single farmer or rancher who isn’t committed to protecting the natural resources that we all depend on. At the same time we are charged with feeding a growing world population and the idea that a grocery store chain would be saying otherwise is mind boggling.
I know that they are victims of bad information. Groups like HSUS and PETA are very successful in extrapolating data and twisting facts to promote their agendas. The fact of the matter is that meat, of any kind, is a nutrient rich food that is a vital part of a balanced diet and should be on our plates every, single day. All the while, you can feel reassured that it has been raised in an environmentally sustainable manner.
The fact remains that meat is an efficient use of our resources. Animals can utilize large areas of land that cannot be farmed by grazing the naturally occurring grasses. They also can process grains much more efficiently and produce a product with much needed proteins and vitamins. We also know that farmers and ranchers constantly work to insure that our soil and water, in fact they are many times cleaner now than they have ever been historically.
We must tell those truths to everyone we meet. I truly believe that the public wants to trust us, but are too susceptible to bad information disguised as helpful information. We have all heard the adage, “I read it on the internet so it must be true.” Those opposing us are very good at spreading their propaganda; they know what they are doing. However, we have something they do not have, facts.
We must all be ready to respond when we notice things like this seemingly benign posting on a grocery store website. I applaud the alert producer who noticed this poorly thought out posting, we all owe you a pat on the back. I hope this will alert Dillons to the need to be more attune to the information they put their name on. We are all in this together.