On December 5 some Starbucks customers in New York and Washington, D.C., two major media centers, could look up from their double lattes and see a small group of idiots dressed up as cows protesting outside their favorite bistro. Unfortunately for the protesters, the media ignored their valiant effort to advance the interests of Food and Water Watch, but good news for consumers.
Food and Water Watch is a spin-off of Ralph Nader’s anti-everything Public Citizen, a self-appointed organization famous for its opposition to modern technology, corporations, and globalization. The silly people in the silly cow costumes were, in fact a marketing ploy to frighten people into believing that milk produced by cows that have received bovine growth hormones are a threat to the health of Americans.
Nothing in the many years that bovine growth hormone has been used demonstrates any threat at all, although the protesters described it as a “cancer-related hormone.” The growth hormone is a synthetic version of the natural cow hormone, bovine somatotropin.
In this insanely over-regulated nation of ours, any hint of a cancer risk would have pulled it off the market long ago. While science confirms its safety, the theater of protest goes on.
Americans are so distant from the actual source of how and where their food is produced, they often think it is some magical process that fills the shelves of their supermarket, their plates at restaurants, or their refrigerators at home.
In the case of milk it is the result of a lot of hard work by farmers and dairymen.
According to a 2002 U.S. Department of Agriculture survey, only about 22% of the nation’s dairy cows were receiving rsBST as an aid to milk production. If deprived of rsBST their production would go down while the hucksters of organic milk’s income would benefit.
It’s not about health. It’s about the dollars organic food marketers can wrest from consumers who are led to believe that it is healthier in some respect.
The simple truth is that milk always has been and always will be full of hormones, whether produced with rsBST or not! It’s made by cows, not machines.
The irony of this is that the human body naturally produces a comparable hormone called insulin, vital to good health.
According to Alex Avery’s blog, Milk is Milk, “Five years ago, the Organic Consumers Association had Starbucks squarely in its sights.” At the time, Starbucks stocked up on the “organic” milk and quickly discovered that managers were throwing away far more of it than they were selling. As Avery noted, “It is NOT consumers who were asking for premium priced niche market milk.”
This, of course, means nothing to Food and Water Watch, nor the Organic Consumers Association that organized the protests and a day in which consumers were urged to call Starbucks because, in the oily words of such fear-mongers, it is bad for cows “and may be bad for people.” The operative word here is “may.”
All fear campaigns operate off of words like “may, could, might”, et cetera. For now the cow costumes have been packed away and the creepy organizers of the protest are claiming victory.
For my part, whenever I see the word “organic”, I check to see if my wallet is safely in my back pocket.