Culinate

Being fair to farmers

That Super Bowl ad, plus immigration reform

By
February 7, 2013

Sure, everybody waits for the famously inventive (and famously spendy) advertisements aired during the Super Bowl. This year, the ad that got everybody talking was one that promoted Dodge trucks by way of the American farmer.

Latinos, who make up the vast majority of farmworkers in America today, were not pleased with the ad’s depiction of craggy white men as the stereotypical American farmer. Subsequently, a Latino group released its own version of the ad using images of Latino farmworkers.

In the Los Angeles Times, Russ Parsons discussed a different take on the ad: Rachel Laudan's essay pointing out that the contemporary American farmer is not only much older than most of the people shown in the ad, but also squeezed economically from all sides:

We may love the image of a charming rustic, but today’s reality is that making enough money to hold on to his land takes a lot more than that. Today’s farmer may well fix his equipment with baling wire and elbow grease, but then he goes online to find out how almond sales are going in India.

And on Civil Eats, Amanda Oborne criticized the ad’s reliance on agro-clichés:

The Dodge ad, and the “Year of the Farmer” campaign that goes with it, glosses over the realities of how food gets produced in this country in exactly the same way that past Super Bowl ads have “celebrated” military families by waving the flag and tugging at our collective heartstrings, even as they gloss over the real pain and effects of war-making.

Meanwhile, immigration reform is simmering in Washington, and food activists such as Twilight Greenaway and Mark Muller are calling for the feds to support a national farm economy that no longer relies on exploiting undocumented immigrants — few of whom can afford to buy one of those big, shiny Dodge Ram trucks that look so good on TV.