Identity Politics Strike Again…This Time Against Butter

Over time everything changes. New technology is developed, causing old ones to be forgotten. So too come new ideologies, forcing us to change the way we think and feel about specific things.

But the reasons behind these changes may not always be what they seem.

Take Land O’Lakes, a popular and very successful farmer-owned company that produces foods like butter, cheese, all sorts of other dairy products, for instance.

For nearly 100 years, Land O’Lakes has used the image of a stereotypical Native American woman on their label. But in 2021, marking the 100th anniversary of the company, their products will be labeled with a new design. According to CEO and President of Land O’Lakes Beth Ford, the new images will strive to honor the companies roots and the fact that for an entire century, they have been “farmer-owned.”

Ford said in a recent company statement, “As Land O’Lakes looks toward our 100th anniversary, we’ve recognized we need packaging that reflects the foundation and heart of our company culture – and nothing does that better than our farmer-owners whose milk is used to produce Land O’Lakes dairy products.” She continued, “As a farmer-owned co-op, we strongly feel the need to better connect the men and women who grow our food with those who consume it. Our farmer-to-fork structure gives us a unique ability to bridge this divide.”

But is this really the reason for the change in labeling?

If so, there is nothing wrong with it. After all, honoring the men and women who have, for a century now, worked so hard to make the company successful is a great testament to the type of company they are, namely one that doesn’t take their roots and workers for granted. And we all know farmers are pretty much the backbone of this country anyway.

But one only has to take a quick look at the company’s current label to know why some might have a beef with the dairy conglomerate.

The American Indian woman says it all.

According to the Grand Forks Herald, a local news outlet, “The Native American maiden, named Mia, first appeared on Land O’Lakes packaging in 1928, seven years after the Minnesota Cooperative Creameries Association was founded by 320 farmers in St. Paul. Arthur C. Hanson, who was the first illustrator for the ad firm Brown and Bigelow, came up with the original design evoking rural Minnesota with a blue lake, green pine trees and a Native woman in a buckskin dress and feather headdress.”

And the packaging has changed little since then, until now.

But with an increase in identity politics, the label has come under attack. Academia elitists and leftist politicians claim the packaging is “cultural appropriation and insensitive toward tribal communities,” according to The Hill.

Not only is the image apparently racist and stereotypical, but some even claim that it goes “hand-in-hand with human sex trafficking of our women and girls… by depicting Native women as sex objects.”

These words were said by North Dakota congresswoman Ruth Buffalo, who is a registered member of the Manda, Hidatsa Arikara Nation. She told the Grand Forks Herald that the coming change in Land O’Lakes labeling is a good thing. “But we can’t stop there. We as a whole need to keep pushing forward to address the underlying issues that directly impact an entire population that survived genocide.”

And Lisa Monchalin, an American indigenous academic, agrees with Buffalo. She described the use of the Land O’Lakes “Mia” as an “example of romanticized and sexualized construction of indigenous women,” according to The Hill.

Now, I’m not sure who exactly is thinking of the “butter maiden” in sexual fantasies, but the idea is entirely ridiculous. Clearly, someone has far too much time on their hands if they are reading this far into a painting on a package of butter.

But, in the world of 2020, nothing is safe from identity politics. And in truth, it hasn’t been for some time. It’s why we see changes to company labels all the time, such as when Nabisco’s famous Barnum’s Animal Crackers began to depict the iconic circus animals in their rather habitat in 2018, rather than behind barred circus cages. Or the many instances Aunt Jemima pancake syrup and mixes have changed their image of the iconic black woman to represent the ideology of the times.

Now, not even butter is safe from the attacks of identity politics.

Can the left be any more petty?