A few weeks back, this video of a precocious kid talking about the ethics of food made the rounds. I wasn’t sure what to say about it. I guess it’s finally time. I don’t like to pick on kids, but child evangelists creep me out.
Very early in the video, Birke says something pretty interesting about kids and their role in marketing. He says:
I’m really amazed at how easily kids lare led to believe all the marketing and advertising on TV, at public schools, and pretty much everywhere else you look. It seems to me like corporations are always trying to get kids, like me, to get their parents to buy stuff that really isn’t good for us or the planet. Little kids especially are attracted by colourful packaging and plastic toys. I must admit, I used to be one of them….
This is ironic, because it seems to me that this Birke himself has been very seriously indoctrinated: he’s a hard-core devotee of small-local-and-organic, a child soldier who knows the key speaking points by heart. The fact that Birke sees himself as part of “a movement” speaks volumes. If Kellogs or Tyson or Del Monte or Monsanto used an 11-year-old to deliver propaganda this way, they would rightly be criticized for it.
Now, don’t get me wrong. He seems like a very bright kid. And I’m sure a very nice kid. But a lot of what he says is either false or misleading. GM foods have been “proven to cause cancer”? That’s simply false. Joel Salatin is a considered a “lunatic farmer” by “the system”? Well, maybe — but “lunatic farmer” is actually a description Salatan has adopted for himself, and used in the title of his own book. The idea that small farms growing organic, free-range meat are a sustainable way to provide meat to the world? Highly, highly unlikely.
At least Birke’s opening argument against GM foods — the fact that they make him think “Yuck!” — is age-appropriate for an 11-year-old. But it’s hard not to get the feeling that that idea was put into his head by someone old enough to know better.