FoodPolitik: Which food activists did Santa tell to stuff it?

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Rick Berman
Executive Director, Center for Union Facts
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      Rick Berman

      Rick Berman is the President of Berman and Company, a Washington, D.C.–based public affairs firm specializing in research, communications, and creative advertising.
      Berman has founded several leading non-profit organizations which are known for their fact-based research and their aggressive communications campaigns.
      A long-time consumer advocate, Rick Berman champions individual responsibility and common sense policy. He believes that democracies require an informed public from all sides.
      Berman and Company has received dozens of national awards for its creativity and cutting edge work. In the past two years alone Berman and Company has earned over 30 awards for its work in television, print, and radio advertisements and crisis communications.
      Rick Berman has appeared on all major television networks and has organized national coalitions on a variety of issues.

Yesterday, millions of families celebrated the spirit of Christmas (excuse me, “the holidays”). But I suspect that a few folks, such as activists who want to control what we eat and drink, found some coal in their stockings. Figuratively, of course.

Undoubtedly, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) made Santa’s naughty list. This group — better known as the nation’s original “food police” — has literally been trying to separate kids from toys. CSPI has pushed bans on toys in kids’ meals, claiming that cheap pieces of plastic are helping kids eat unhealthily. CSPI is even backing a class-action lawsuit on the use of toys in marketing. (CSPI’s kind of the anti-Santa, don’t you think?)

Naturally, San Francisco thought it was a great idea and passed an ordinance, which went into effect this month. But the idea that kids’ toys are harming kids fails to pass logical muster. Even if these toys influence what kids want to eat, it’s not like six-year-olds are taking themselves to the drive-thru, nor does the average second-grader have a substantial eating-out budget.

Better parenting should always be encouraged. Surrogate “food police” parenting should not.

Next, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) surely got its annual lump of the black stuff for being rather unethical with the animals in its care. Since 1998, PETA has killed nearly 30,000 adoptable dogs and cats in its custody. If PETA believes that these dogs and cats are better off dead than as pets, then that’s certainly a new spin on “killing with kindness.” (Meanwhile, PETA thinks it can lecture the rest of us about the “inhumanity” of eating BLTs.)

Interestingly, new documents reveal that Virginia attempted to revoke PETA’s animal-shelter license last year, in part because PETA doesn’t generally try to adopt out these animals. Unfortunately, PETA was able to lawyer up and get out of it. If you’re upset that PETA’s slaughterhouse continues to operate as an animal shelter, sign the petition at PetaKillsAnimals.com calling for Virginia to resume the license revocation process.

But the group that deserved a mountain’s worth of West Virginia’s finest is the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), PETA’s big brother in the animal rights world. Why? Because HSUS raises money with ads full of abused and needy dogs and cats — and then gives very little to pet shelters, while using the donations to shelter dozens of lawyers and lobbyists and attack farmers.

According to data provided by the Campaign Media Analysis Group, more than 85 percent of the animals in HSUS TV ads between January 2009 and September 2011 were dogs and cats. It’s no surprise to see that, according to public polling, a majority of Americans thinks HSUS is a pet-shelter umbrella group and a majority believes HSUS gives most of its money to shelters.

However, HSUS doesn’t run any pet shelters and only gives 1 percent of its budget to pet shelters. So while HSUS raises money off the backs of these abused and abandoned animals, it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of actually helping care for them.

Instead, loads of these donations from dog-and-cat lovers go to political initiatives aimed at, among other things, bankrupting America’s livestock farmers. HSUS’s then vice president for farm animal issues laid it out a few years back at an animal-rights conference: “We don’t want any of these animals to be raised and killed.” Read: Goodbye omelets, bacon cheeseburgers, and grande lattes — unless you can figure out a way to produce them in a lab.

In reality, HSUS isn’t much different from PETA in terms of its ultimate goal of ending most animal use. The difference is that HSUS cloaks this agenda in pictures of homeless puppies and kitties. (Oh, and its staff members keep their clothes on.)

With 2012 approaching, is there any chance these food Grinches will change their ways next year? The odds are more likely that Donald Trump will become president.