Partly as a result of this never-ending debate, “sustainability” has morphed from a marketing buzzword to a business priority, not just in food production but across virtually every manufacturing sector. That’s beneficial to all of society, and the eco-activists who keep up the pressure for change deserve a sincere thank you—at least for a few minutes tomorrow.
3). Nutritional controversies. I think back some 20 years to the initial debates over mandatory nutrition labeling processed meats, a regulation bitterly opposed by almost everyone drawing a paycheck at a meat or poultry processing company. What eventually occurred when the regulations were implemented, however, proved to be a boon to industry. Once the actual calories and fat percentages were displayed on lunchmeat and other processed meats, not only did marketers have a positive message to promote, but the mandate paved the way for a rollout of low-fat and even no-fat products whose remarkable nutritional values could now be prominently displayed on the packaging.
Beyond that, the constant focus by health authorities and veggie activists on meat’s (alleged) dietary downside provides a context for industry to fight facts with facts. So many arguments of importance to how people perceive meat-eating are emotionally based—intentionally so, as activists understand all too well how to manipulate public opinion. Debating the calories, fat content and nutritional composition of today’s meat and poultry products is one conversation that industry could, and should, dominate.
For all these reasons, I’m grateful to be an observer and a reporter engaged with one of the most important, most fundamental industries on earth. Career-wise, I’m grateful for one more reason: When you cover animal agriculture and meat and poultry production, there’s never a dull day.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers, our supporters and yes, our critics.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dan Murphy, a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator.