Fire With Fire
James Dudlicek
(847) 405-4009
Dairy Forum is a great experience, and not just because it’s located where the weather is the complete opposite of Chicago in January. Forum always offers a wealth of information on every facet of the industry.
This year, two sessions in particular were worth the price of admission: Jon Davis and Jim Tillison throwing chairs at each other over forward contracting, and Rick Berman on strategies for dealing with anti-dairy activists.
The spirited verbal sparring of the former brought energy as well as depth to a somewhat arcane topic, but the latter offered perhaps a more immediate opportunity to muzzle a real nuisance to progress.
Berman heads the Center for Consumer Freedom, an organization that aims to expose animal-rights extremists and the food police for what they are: a bunch of cranky, manipulative nanny-staters with a twisted view of what constitutes a free society.
Now, DF readers should be familiar with my views on these folks. But even I was not fully aware of the depths of their insanity until viewing video clips of their leaders during Berman’s presentation. One likens cheese to crack; others advocate violence as a means to ending consumption of animal-based foods.
The real problem, Berman contends, is that these groups give themselves names like “ethical” and “responsible” (which they are neither) so they can claim moral high ground in the fight against “evil big business.” So CCF aims to shine light on facts these groups don’t want known, like the deep financial ties between PETA and PCRM and the denouncing of much of the “science” they use to support their cause. CCF also produces commercials using these truths along with hard-hitting humor to topple the activists’ positions.
My friends at IDFA admit they are wary of Berman’s “shoot the messenger” strategy and say they’re having success countering the extremists’ claims on their merits. And, understandably, they’re concerned about Berman’s work for Big Tobacco and Big Pop.
But I think the food industry needs to turn up the volume on the real motives and flimsy science guiding these activists. So the next time they come out with some nutty claim or accusation, the mainstream media will give it the prominence it deserves — as wastebasket liner.  
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