The 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 on Saturday, May 25, had approximately 5.45 million people tuned in across NBC’s platforms. It featured a look into the life of a fifth-generation dairy farm.
Part of the tradition in winning the Indy 500 is for the driver to be draped in a wreath of flowers, kiss the bricks on the speedway that are part of the original track and then drink from a bottle of milk before dumping the rest of it over their heads, like a modern-day football team would dump Gatorade on a coach.
Dairy farmers from across the Hoosier state have the opportunity to provide milk for the 500 each year. This year, the farmer featured was Andrew Kuehnert from Kuehnert Dairy Farms in Fort Wayne.
The dairy segment before the race featured Kuehnert and his family -- including his dad, who ran the operation before him. Viewers got an in-depth look at the barns, cattle and a detailed description of how the automated milkers work. The parlor was clean and the animals looked well cared for. Kuehnert even explained his love for the operation and for each one of the cattle he and his family are responsible for. The short segment ended with the entire family gathered around the dinner table toasting with a glass of milk.
As far as I am concerned, this was a huge win for not only the dairy industry but for agriculture. Unfortunately, it is not everyday that farmers are highlighted in a positive spotlight on national TV. There was so much truth in every bit of the segment and if it impacted one person that has a negative view of agriculture, then it was a win.
If you have followed any of my previous blogs you know I am a huge proponent of reaching the general public through emotion and relatability, this segment did just that.
One step forward, two steps back
As excited as I was to see the dairy industry featured in the national spotlight, I was equally if not more disgusted with the negative attention two celebrities brought to the beef industry last week on national television.
Jennie Garth was featured on MasterChef Celebrity Family Showdown last week. When asked to cook a steak, the vegans’ years of experience in the drama business came to life, as she acted like the steak might come back to life and eat her.
I’m not here to judge her eating decisions, but I felt her comments on the show belittled those of us who work hard to provide a safe product to consumers and choose to eat beef.
Last week, Jimmy Fallon of The Tonight Show also made a crack at the beef industry due to the recent E.coli recall. His crack implied beef wasn’t safe for grilling over Memorial Day weekend.
I don’t disagree with the fact that the recall of more than 60,000 pounds of beef isn’t good for consumer confidence, but I sure wish his joke wasn’t falling on the ears of skeptics who could probably use a lesson in food safety. I don’t see the humor in kicking a man when he’s down and potentially further worsening the situation.