An open letter to Monsanto

Oh, Monsanto.

Just look at you. You’ve got your knit cap pulled down tight over your crew cut, and your stomach is sticking out beneath your skull-and-crossbones T-shirt. Your face is riddled with acne, and your eyes are all hard and mean. You’ve been left back a few grades now — summer school doesn’t always help much, does it? — and so now you are way bigger than everyone else.

You don’t have too many friends anymore. It’s tough to be the class behemoth, isn’t it? So you’ve taken to pushing other kids around on the playground and trying to take their milk money.

Or, at least, to take away their ability to label their milk as rBGH-free. Makes you feel bad when they label things that way, like they know you’ve got cooties or something. Plus you lose money then, and you don’t like losing money. It makes you feel … small, somehow.

So you do what all oversized bullies do to keep themselves from feeling small: you push. You push all the kids you think you can get away with pushing.

Like Pennsylvania. You expected Pennsylvania would be a pushover, didn’t you? You thought it would be all fat, happy children at Hershey Park. Maybe a few old-order Mennonites. A handful of people downing cheese steaks and Mike and Ikes. I mean, I kind of understand what you were thinking. Pennsylvania is the home of Alice from the Brady Bunch and the “Time in a Bottle” crooner guy and Mr. Rogers and that geeky doctor from “Jurassic Park.” But you didn’t bother to think about other folks who hail from Pennsylvania, like Joan Jett and Charles Bronson and Larry Holmes (Monsanto, dude, he beat Muhammad Ali and a guy whose nickname was “Bonecrusher”!). And, um, the Battle of Gettysburg? Pennsylvanians are tough, Monsanto. They’re tough enough to fight back. And they did. They turned around and kicked your @*s good. Pennsylvania dairies got to keep their rBGH-free labels. That must have made you feel very small.

So then you did the next logical thing. You found some other kids on the playground that you thought you could kick around. Like New Jersey. That one surprised me, Monsanto. I mean, Tony Soprano? Hel-LO? And did you see Ray Liotta in “Goodfellas”? And what about the vice president who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel? Not smart, picking on New Jersey. They’ve always been tough in Jersey. They crushed you. The Garden State can keep its labels, too.

Next you turned to a state that you think would be a reeeaally easy target: Indiana. But you never saw that movie, did you? The one where the Town Drunk and the Coach With A Checkered Past lead a bunch of earnest farmboys to the state basketball championships? And then, when the final game is tied at 40, Coach Dale calls a timeout and designs a play for Merle to take the last shot, but the players refuse to leave the huddle until Jimmy finally says, “I’ll make it” and then Coach Dale then redraws the play for Jimmy to take the last shot, which is what the team wanted all along? And then Jimmy makes it, he makes that last shot, and everyone cheers, including Shooter, who jumps up and down on his hospital bed? Didn’t you SEE that movie, Monsanto? The folks in Indiana have heart. They may be underdogs, but they are underdogs who know how to win.

Anyhow, they beat you, too. Indiana can say what it wants on its milk labels.

You’re still battling it out in Ohio, it’s true. But you’re facing nurses standing up and saying Hell, no! We won’t go! We won’t lay down for Mon-san-to! Or something to that effect, anyway. And even the Consumer Reports folks are saying the same. And if that’s not enough, I’ve got two words for you: Marilyn Manson.

So now you’re pickin’ on Kansas. You were imagining Dorothy, probably — wide-eyed, apple-cheeked, easy to knock over in a fight. But you must not have studied much history in summer school, Monsanto. Because if you had, you’d know all about Bloody Kansas and everything that came after that nasty little brouhaha, and you would know enough NOT TO PICK A FIGHT IN KANSAS.

So, here’s my question for you, Monsanto. It’s a question that all bullies must ask, eventually, after one too many times of kicking sand in other people’s face only to discover that it just isn’t a good life strategy: How much is too much? Do you know when to say when?

When will you decide you’ve gotten enough black eyes?

I’m going to be frank, Monsanto. You may own a pair of brass knuckles, but I’ve faced my share of playground scuffles, and I have even beat up boys. So I’m going to speak bluntly to you: It’s not working. You keep picking on these kids, and Monsanto, pal, you’re losing. You’re LOSING. They don’t want what you’re peddling. They just don’t want it, and your efforts to shove it down their throats, to hit them so hard that they won’t even know what kind of milk they’re buying, just aren’t working. They are stronger than you anticipated. Or maybe — just maybe — you are a little weaker.

I recommend a little therapy. No shame there. Do a little digging on the therapist’s couch, figure out where all that anger comes from. Because I’m thinking that perhaps it’s not the other kids on the playground that you’re angry at. Maybe you’re mad at you. Yes, you.

Could it be possible you even hate yourself a tiny little bit?

I understand — you don’t have a great model for love. You’ve got those shareholders, and they are always raggin’ on you. No matter how hard you strive for their approval, it’s never good enough for them. Record-smashing profits, 120% sales growth in just 7 years, and still — still! — they are saying, it’s not enough. It will never be enough. They want growth. More growth. Endless growth. Growth every quarter — every damned quarter! And you’re right, Monsanto: that’s not real love.

All of your old allies have left you behind. Starbucks, Krogers, Publix, Safeway, Dean Foods, Chipotle Mexican Grill…and now Kraft, too…they just don’t want to be associated with you any more. Just like all those kids on the playground.

But Monsanto? If you have to bully people into being your friend? That’s not friendship. That’s not real love.

Remember the serenity prayer? Because that’s what you need. You need to ask God to grant you the serenity to accept the things you cannot change (such as all of us consumers who want to know how our food is produced. You’re not going to change us. So sorry); the courage to change the things you can (you can change YOU, Monsanto. You can change YOU!); and the wisdom, always, to know the difference.

Godspeed, Monsanto. Godspeed.

Guest contributor Ali can be found at the Cleaner Plate Club. Her previous post for us was about teaching her kid to curse.  If Matt Groening wants to sue someone over the illustration, Bonnie gets the blame.

9 Responsesto “An open letter to Monsanto”

  1. ExPat Chef says:

    It ain’t gonna happen in Kansas.

  2. Laureen says:

    Ali, you are a freakin’ genius. I love your writing, and I love how you take a topic that could induce polemic fits, and turn it into a source of accessible comedy.

    It also helps that I already hated Monsanto. And that frankly, nothing you ever write will be as brilliant as your exploding pig heads piece back over on Cleaner Plate. =) =)

  3. kitchenMage says:

    This is marvelous, Ali! I am with Lauren. Well, except that she didn’t provide a link to the most excellent exploding pig brain piece and made me google it. You’ll be happy to know that you are the #2 blog hit for “exploding pig heads” – something to tell the kids about. Especially nine year olds. They love stuff like that. but i digress…

  4. This is like asking Darth Vader to be a good guy. Oh wait, that’s fantasy.

    You have to keep wondering how the execs at Monsanto can look at themselves in the mirror each day, or face their children. Perhaps they have no children?

    Another great post, Ali!

  5. Tsila says:

    It’s not often that a piece on Monsanto leaves me grinning from ear to ear! Thanks for that.

  6. anita says:

    this post has been picked up by a LiveJournal splogger:

    You can address it here:

  7. I am standing up and applauding. FABULOUS piece!

    Going to email the link out now… everyone needs to read this.

  8. Great piece. Love the blog!

  9. this was so well written and satisfies my soul.  i have been crying about this injustice for 10 years and finally, the evil powers are losing ground.  label things correctly and it turns out people do want to be healthy and do care about not poisoning their children.  this is a coup against big agra trying to force feed our children these abnormal hormones  the cows must be rejoicing, well at least the ones who lived thru this cruelty.  i think the ceo of monsanto should have to drink and eat all his food for the rest of his life.  i bet he eats organic and laughs at all the slaves eating his gmo frankenfood.