“The Fault In Our Stars” is a Spiderman movie? Who knew?

Apparently, our local supermarket knew. Maybe they were fooled by the upside-down character on the cover?

Seriously gang, if you’re too cheap to buy a new cardboard display rack, at least take thirty seconds and cover the text with duct tape. There’s some in Aisle 5.

OK, that was clearly a mistake. A preventable mistake, certainly, but most likely not something done with malice in mind.

On the other hand, we’ve got the latest piece of mind-warping stupidity from Organic Valley.

I’ve complained about OV before, but this radio spot sinks to new depths in its casual disregard for logical thought and scientific accuracy. Of course, as we know, OV has no interest in science. Start doing science and you might come into contact with chemicals!

You don’t have to take my word for the accuracy of my transcription. Organic Valley’s advertising agency, Solve, has kindly archived several of their radio and TV ads. By all means, go take a listen to “Bats and Frogs”.

Back? Good. Let’s break this down. According to Organic Valley and Solve, OV’s farmers listen for bats and frogs because “where there are bats and frogs, there are insects.” Yeah, OK. Not all bats and frogs are insectivores, but enough of them are that I’ll give OV a pass on that claim.

“Where there are insects, there’s healthy soil free of toxic pesticides.” Well, no. Haven’t they ever heard of mosquitoes? Bats and frogs love ’em, but their presence is more likely a sign of stagnant pools of water than healthy soil. Many insects don’t much care about the presence of “toxic pesticides”* in the soil either. Unless they’re one of the few species that breeds underground, pesticides in the soil have little effect on them.

* A redundancy if I ever heard one. What’s the point of a non-lethal pesticide? (OK, yes, there are some that interfere with the pests’ breeding cycle. They’re in the minority–and OV doesn’t like them either.)

“Where there’s healthy soil, there are acres of organic pasture grasses.” Or acres of forest. Or a tiny lawn behind a tract house. The quality and health of the soil says very little about the use people are making of the land.

“Where there are acres of lush pasture grass, there are happy, healthy Organic Valley cows that spend their days eating that grass…” Not stated, but strongly implied: OV cows eat only pasture grass and only OV cows eat pasture grass. The first is untrue according to OV’s website (per my previous rant, the website acknowledges that a significant portion of nutrition comes from stored dried forages, including corn). The second is self-evidently ridiculous: non-organic dairies may or may not give their cows as much pasture time as OV, but most give them some. How useful that pasture time is, is another question, given that even OV admits that their cows need supplemental nutrition.

“and producing delicious Organic Valley milk as part of a thriving ecosystem.” “Delicious” is subjective, of course. I doubt whether OV can point to any legitimate double-blind tests that show their milk to be any more delicious than any other dairy’s, but I’ll let that pass. “A thriving ecosystem.” Hmm. Last I checked, a thriving ecosystem was, by definition, a closed system. Nothing needs to be brought in from outside to stave off collapse. Do the cows produce enough natural fertilizer to keep those pastures lush? Do those bats and frogs have sufficient breeding grounds? I tend to doubt the claim of a thriving ecosystem, but I can’t actually disprove it. OK, I’ll give OV a pass on this bit.

“Just don’t forget to thank the bats and frogs.” OK. Uh… just what am I thanking them for? Are you seriously suggesting that the bats and frogs are responsible for the “delicious milk”? They’re not producing the insects and the insects aren’t producing the soil. OK, yes, the soil may be producing the grass, but the cows aren’t a product of the soil, the insects, the frogs, or the bats. Or is OV hinting that they’re not selling cow milk, but actually bat milk? Probably not. We can be sure it’s not frog milk, since frogs aren’t mammals and don’t produce milk.

Look, I’m sure Organic Valley milk is no worse than any other milk you can buy, and it’s probably tastier and more nutritious than some, but this kind of fuzzy thinking presented as advertising is insulting to the intelligence of the listener. It’s exactly the kind of wishful thinking that suggests that vegan diets can halt climate change.

If You Say So…

There’s an interesting trend going on in the area of denial of science and common sense. No, I’m not talking about “intelligent design”/evolution denial or climate change denial. It’s in the area of food and food safety.

Case in point: Chobani Yoghurt* recently advertised that they produced a 100 calorie serving of yoghurt without scientific help. There’s a great destruction of the claim on Popular Science, but that’s beside the point.

* Thanks to Maggie for tipping me to this story.

The point is this: Somebody at Chobani thought this claim was a good idea.

Another example: Organic Valley is running radio ads touting the fact that, and I quote, “Our milk, butter, and cheese are pasture-raised.” This isn’t isolated to their radio ads, by the way. As I write this, their website proudly announces “Pasture-Raised™ whole milk is nutritionally excellent“* (emphasis theirs). Please note: it’s not the cows that are pasture-raised, it’s the dairy products. Yep, they’ve apparently found a way to grow milk, butter, and cheese without involving those nasty bovines.

* For the record, Pasture-Raised™ is a trademarked phrase. According to the website, the tag requires a minimum number of days on pasture, and a significant portion of nutrition coming from “organically managed pasture and stored dried forages”. So that butter has been growing in the pasture for at least 120 days and has been fed corn and non-iodized salt supplements. Because there isn’t enough nutritive value in grass, and Heaven forbid we should mix any nasty chemicals into our, um, other chemicals.

This is useful information, folks! If Chobani and Organic Valley don’t need science, common sense, or grammar to work their wonders, can we extend the principle to other areas of the culinary industry?

Wonder of wonders, the FDA is already working along these lines. They recently issued a statement noting that because wood is porous, it can’t be cleaned. That being the case, cheese aged on wooden racks (as has been done for hundreds, if not thousands of years) is, by definition, unsafe.

This kind of logic could save us a lot of money. If we take it to the next level, we should ask if we even need the FDA and their partners in common sense, the USDA? Think about it: remember the government shutdown last October? You may recall that there was a salmonella outbreak while FDA and USDA employees were on furlough. But nobody died. Nobody even got sick. Why are we paying billions of dollars for these agencies for their questionable “science-based” food safety regulations?

Remember, folks, this is America, where you’re free to believe any damn thing you want. And apparently advertise it.