"NO HAPPY COWS"
John Robbins: Connecting the Dots, final interview closing the Food Revolution Summit
A note from Ocean Robbins:
Today we completed the 2012 Food Revolution Summit. What a week it’s been!
Thank you for all the ways that you participate in this rapidly growing movement. It's a movement that grows stronger…
Every time you choose tomatoes over Twinkies...
Every time you choose organic and locally grown over chemical-laden genetically engineered pseudo-foods...
Every time you choose to set a positive example instead of succumbing to the status quo...
Every time you make a nourishing meal and enjoy it with reverence...
Every time you support healthier food systems by signing a petition or lobbying a representative or organizing in your community...
Every time you speak out instead of being dumbed down....
And every time you look at food as an opportunity to take a stand for the life you want and the world you love.
Thank you for your participation in the Food Revolution.
Words of Ocean Robbins:
I was touched to hear my dad talk about having polio as a child, and being constantly sick growing up. This experience imbued in him a deep appreciation for the value of health. He said he never takes the ability to walk, to breath, or to be healthy, for granted. His childhood illnesses inspired him to take care of his body, and eventually to help others do the same.
He talked about the epic struggle between two great forces today. On the one side is Monsanto, factory farms, and big agrichemical companies. These forces are profiting from putting family farmers out of business and from producing food that is harmful to our health and to our world.
On the other side, we have a rising tide of people who want food that is healthy, that is produced in harmony with the earth, and that is a celebration of life.
He defined himself as a reporter, but also an advocate. “As for me,”, he said, “I have made a choice. I have taken a side.”
I asked him why he had chosen to title his latest book “No Happy Cows,” and to join in the lawsuit against the California Milk Producers Association for their “Happy Cows” ad campaign. He answered that the ads, which depict happy cows grazing in lush green pastures, are a fabrication and were actually shot in New Zealand. In reality, there aren’t any happy cows in industrialized modern agribusiness. California’s dairy industry is concentrated in the state’s hot and dry San Joaquin valley, with 20,000 animals often housed in a small area. Many of them never see a blade of grass in their lives. Many consumers care about animal well-being, and for that reason are willing to pay extra for humanely raised products. My dad is engaged in suing the California industry, because he says:
“I think they are attempting to take an unfair advantage of the public. I would consider their dishonesty to be criminal. I don’t think we should allow campaigns to portray animals has humanely treated when they are not.”
When I asked my dad for his advice to Summit participants who want to take the inspiration of the summit forward in their lives, he said:
“I think you’ll know what to do. I think you do it a step at a time, a day at a time, a mouthful at a time, a food choice at a time, a purchase at a time, an order at a time, a meal at a time. And I think we will change the world one heart at a time.”
“The primary agent of social change, to my way of seeing, is the human heart. As it awakens, as it becomes engaged, as it becomes alive with its responsibility, with its capacity for wisdom, for caring and for action, then our prayers start to manifest as our lives. Then our caring starts to be expressed in the way we are with each other. Then we bring out the best in one another. Then we live in a way that’s worthy of the suffering we experience, and that transforms the suffering into strength.”
Gratitude and Going Forward
As we come to the completion of an extraordinary week, my dad, John Robbins, and I feel so grateful for all the people who helped us make this possible, including Lionel Church, Greg Boggs, Kaia Van Zandt, all our speakers and affiliates, and so many more friends and allies. And of course, we want to thank Deo Robbins (my dad’s partner for 45 years and my mom for 38) and the love of my life and wife for 17 years, Michele Robbins.
Most of all, we want to thank you. Thank you for your participation in the Summit, and more importantly, in the vital work of our times.
We wish you radiant health, abundant joy, and a life filled with meaning. And we wish you good, delicious, nourishing food.
Yours for healthy people and a healthy planet,
An excerpt of the interview, introduction:
Ocean Robbins: Welcome to The Food Revolution Summit where we explore how you can heal your body and your world with food. This is Ocean Robbins and for the last nine days I’ve been joining with my dad, John Robbins, as we’ve brought you interviews with twenty-three of the world’s leading food revolutionary experts. We’ve been looking together at what it takes to make our food more healthy, more sustainable, more humane and yes, delicious. Today will be a little different than the rest of our interviews because I’ll be the interviewer and our expert today is my dad himself, John Robbins.
John Robbins is author of the 1987 landmark international bestseller Diet for a New America which helped to bring the natural food industry into the mainstream. He’s also the author of the newly released No Happy Cows: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the Food Revolution and many other bestsellers. He is the founder of Earth Save International and he is one of the most popular bloggers on the Huffington Post. My dad is a recipient of the Rachel Carson Award, Green America’s Lifetime Achievement Award, The Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award and dozens of other honors.
Personally, I’ve known John Robbins since the day that I was born and if there was one word that I could use to describe him it would be “integrity.” This is a man who was invited and in fact expected to join his father, my grandfather, in running the Baskin Robbins ice-cream empire. But he walked away from all that money and power because he felt that the purpose of his life was about more than inventing a thirty-second flavor.
Years later he became a bestselling author on issues of diet and health and the media called him “the rebel without a cone.” For the last twenty-five years he has been challenging some of the most powerful industries on our planet. He’s inspired millions of people to look at their food and their life choices as an opportunity to take positive action in our lives and in our world. It is such a joy to be in this conversation and to share it with all of our listeners and now I get to speak directly to him. Let me begin by asking you, what inspired you to join with me in creating The Food Revolution Summit?
John Robbins: Thank you Ocean for all you’ve done to create this Summit and make it happen and make it effective for people who are listening and participating in it. It was your brainstorm, your inspiration, your brilliance and I’ve been following your lead in how we’ve done it, how we actually translated the idea and the vision into reality. I’ve enjoyed every step of the way as I always do when I work with you. It’s been a joy to work with you so closely and to sense your unique way of experiencing the truth and the love force that flows through you. It’s been an honor also and a joy to interview the twenty-three food revolutionary experts that we’ve chosen and brought in and invited and they have been willing to speak to our listeners. They have brought so many interesting perspectives. I’ve enjoyed every interview and each one has taught me something new about myself and our world and our food choices and our food beliefs and our food possibilities because there are opportunities today that have never been before