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The Power of Willful Ignorance

Tess Chilton

This is a talk that Kate Cooper, a marketing consultant in the food industry. She shares how marketing firms make us buy what they want us to buy. Her job is to make us want what they want us to buy, to crave it to need it. She shares a few of the secrets that marketing firms use to get us to feel that way. She focuses on how they do this with chickens, pigs and cows and as you can imagine what she reveals is very startling.

She explains that one of their biggest tricks is knowing that everyone believes what on the labels. So they will put things like farm fresh, 100% natural or butchers choice. She explains that that really does not mean anything. We see it on the label and feel more confident but the majority of the time it isn’t even true.

She shows us a picture of what a real farm looks like. It is a concentrated animal feeding operation with animals squished into tiny cages right next to eachother hardly able to move. Thats the reality, not farm fresh.

The second trick she reveals to her audience is that they focus on progress. She explains that this way of farming was born out of necessity. That at the end of the second World War, resources were extremely tight and farming had to be out of necessity and had to be economical. They learned from that and built off those ideals and now we raise more and more animals in smaller and smaller spaces.

Marketers use the right choice of words to make people feel better about this and ignore the facts. The goal of marketers is to make people feel comfortable about what they are seeing. For example to make people feel ok about half of the worlds antibiotics going to animals who are more prone to diseases from being in such tight spaces they say “As farming has . . . become more efficient, veterinarians have incorporated new technologies and methods into practice.” That makes us feel like this a a positive thing.

Her last point is that their main secret weapon is us. Because we don’t want to think about where are food is coming from or how the animals have been treated. The power of willful ignorance is how this is able to continuously happen. At the end no one claps.

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