We don’t need no education: Why PR flunkery fails

I could never do PR.

It’s so much about swallowing whole.

I’ve done it, I’ve applied for jobs, but it makes me feel nauseous.

In a Cormey-Team America way.

My grandfather – the original Homer — was the asparagus baron of Canada.

100 acres that he sold at the door in Alliston, Ontario (that’s in Canada) in the 1960s and 70s, and my cousin is making a living with 40 acres outside Cambridge, Ontario (also in Canada – Barrie’s Asparagus).

There’s this guy at the University of Guelph who has been doing the PR thing for decades. I once asked his boss, a good scientist, do you know how much bullshit this guy is spinning?

And he said yeah, but that was what the system required.

Swallow whole.

(Oh, and to my Ontario farmer friends, I understand it’s been a bit wet. Adapt).

But this isn’t about asparagus.

It’s about the weird perversion that a bunch of groups have to educate consumers.

The U.S. just went through the dumbest electoral cycle in its history, and people want to be educated?

No it’s the rise of idiocracy.

In the past week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration got $3 million to educate consumers about genetically engineered foods, Cargill unveiled its Non-GMO Project partnership, which is stupid beyond belief (and knowing that Cargill’s Mike Robach, vice-president, corporate food safety, quality & regulatory is chair of the Global Food Safety Initiative’s board of directors makes me question the value of any food safety audit ever sanctioned by GFSI), and the National cattlemen’s Beef Association has produced “two fact sheets on beef production and processing, available to consumers seeking more information about their steaks and other cuts, and how they got to the plate,” to educate consumers makes me want to scream.

How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?

Whenever a group says the public needs to be educated about food safety, biotechnology, trans fats, organics or anything else, that group has utterly failed to present a compelling case for their cause. Individuals can choose to educate themselves about all sorts of interesting things, but the idea of educating someone is doomed to failure. And it’s sorta arrogant to state that others need to be educated; to imply that if only you understood the world as I understand the world, we would agree and dissent would be minimized.

There’s a shitload of academic literature about the value of story-telling, about providing information rather than educating, withholding judgement, but these assholes can’t help themselves.

They know better.

Waste money.

My farmer relatives who interact with people daily know a whole lot more than you.

Audits and inspections are never enough: A critique to enhance food safety

30.aug.12

Food Control

D.A. Powell, S. Erdozain, C. Dodd, R. Costa, K. Morley, B.J. Chapman

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713512004409?v=s5

Abstract

Internal and external food safety audits are conducted to assess the safety and quality of food including on-farm production, manufacturing practices, sanitation, and hygiene. Some auditors are direct stakeholders that are employed by food establishments to conduct internal audits, while other auditors may represent the interests of a second-party purchaser or a third-party auditing agency. Some buyers conduct their own audits or additional testing, while some buyers trust the results of third-party audits or inspections. Third-party auditors, however, use various food safety audit standards and most do not have a vested interest in the products being sold. Audits are conducted under a proprietary standard, while food safety inspections are generally conducted within a legal framework. There have been many foodborne illness outbreaks linked to food processors that have passed third-party audits and inspections, raising questions about the utility of both. Supporters argue third-party audits are a way to ensure food safety in an era of dwindling economic resources. Critics contend that while external audits and inspections can be a valuable tool to help ensure safe food, such activities represent only a snapshot in time. This paper identifies limitations of food safety inspections and audits and provides recommendations for strengthening the system, based on developing a strong food safety culture, including risk-based verification steps, throughout the food safety system.