I took out the recycling the other day and dropped a stack of magazines into the bin behind our building. They landed on top of an upside down pizza box with big circusy blue letters, which I found myself trying to read. I could make out "Stella", "Edna"... What was this about, I asked myself, Grandma names? (which I love). My mother's daughter, I plunged into the garbage, my curiosity outweighing my common sense to not put my hands into the trash.
Oh man. I was so mad at what I saw.
The box was from Domino's. The bottom of the box featured those two names, plus three others, along with an artist's renderings of five cows.
photo credit angieconnect.com
Evidently, Dominos is "paying homage" [on the coveted bottom of the pizza box] to "its unsung heroes: the dairy cows who make our pizza cheese".
I almost threw up right there. I'm not sure what made me most angry. That they were calling them unsung heroes? That they'd pretended to give the cows names? That they were using the animals they abuse and confine in a marketing ploy to make customers think their milk is wholesome, that pizza is nutritious and that their triple meat lovers deluxe doesn't come with a side of cruelty and antibiotics?
Ugh. It just made me so uncomfortable that this kind of food marketing happens all the time. And it works. Put a farm on a box and suddenly the product inside is healthy or ethical. In fact, the opposite is more than often true. It's a sad state of affairs that more of our food comes from factories and corporate farms rather than smaller ventures. I recognize that there are millions more mouths to feed than 100 years ago, but it speaks to something bigger about our food culture: what if farmers and the people who make our food were revered more than the machines we employ instead?
As Jan Cho discusses in her great blog post on this same dairy-cow-as-unsung-hero issue
, the Domino's website seems to suggest we should be impressed that 'herds [of cows] in California grow to up to 10 000
'. Uh, what? It's not like they're wild cows roaming the California dessert, happily procreating and making milk for us. They are the product of a very crafted industrial agricultural process and - I would guess - not super thrilled about their living situation. Check out Discover Food's article
for more info on this. Jan also discusses how the cheese that ends up on the Domino's pizza isn't really cheese at all... perhaps another reason to take their advertising with a grain of salt, or maybe not take it at all.
In my digging into Domino's practices, I also came across this post on Pagan Activist
. It also addresses this same issue and raises some great questions about mindful eating and conscious consuming. Highly recommended.
Things like this just bring to mind that we really do need to be aware of what we're eating and what kind of world we're agreeing to with every dollar we spend on food. There is a lot of very misleading advertising shoved in our faces daily, and it's on us to be informed, responsible consumers. Know what you're eating. Know where it comes from. Know what the broader environmental, ethical and economic impact of that food choice might be. Understand as best you can what that food will do to your body.
A good place to start? Eat foods that don't you don't see advertised. Eat mindfully. Support a small farm. Find some organic local produce. It probably doesn't have a name like Elsa, but it probably also didn't spend its life shackled to a wall before some by-product of its natural processes was transformed into a cheese-like substance to top a pizza.
Take care of you.