High-Traffic “Resource” for Moms is Actually a Source for Big Advertising Campaigns

Here’s something that has me really infuriated! I just discovered a resource site for mothers I belong to that supports campaigns for two things I definitely don’t support – chocolate milk and the Swine Flu vaccine!

For the last nine months or so I’ve been a member of an online resource for mothers called Mamasource. I didn’t initially join on my own accord; someone from my Facebook friend’s list requested that I check out this community and join.

I admit I wasn’t very careful about doing my research on this group (so unlike me). I just figured it might be a way to help other moms in the community with advice about nutrition through whole, real foods and natural cures and remedies, since that is right up my alley. So I created a profile and went on my merry way.

During the next few months I received a few messages from Mamasource here and there, containing nothing too terribly pertinent to my life. Mostly, I’d briefly read the message and delete it. Occasionally Mamasource would highlight a message from a mother needing help to which I would respond. The last response I gave was to a mother experiencing fibrocystic breast problems, and so I referred her to my article about mammograms. I got no response from her and really didn’t expect anything in return. I just wanted to give some advice to try to help.

I noticed that all of the other women responding gave the usual advice about not worrying until there was something to be concerned about and making sure she got her mammogram and to follow her doctor’s advice. None of them gave advice about a traditional diet or lifestyle changes, which wasn’t surprising.

But in the last few days, I started noticing something else: Mamasource appears to be a place where moms come together for support and advice, and to gather information for their families and lives. However, it has become clear what it really is – it’s a web site that gathers mothers together from everywhere in order to funnel information from big name advertisers and business conglomerates to sell products and services to their subscribers. And not only are those products and services things I would not normally buy, they are products I believe are flat-out harmful to use.

When I realized this, boy was I angry!

Here are two examples: yesterday (December 16th) I was sitting here going through my Inbox, and found a message from Mamasource. The headlining information in the mail read the following:

Recall: Swine Flu Vaccine

800,000 doses of swine flu vaccine have been recalled by the vaccine’s manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis. As reported in The New York Times, the “vaccine has lost potency since it was shipped from the factory.” “This is non-safety-related, but is part of a routine quality assurance program,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a telephone interview Tuesday. There are now 94.6 million doses of vaccine available, “so this is not as big a deal as it might have been earlier.” She emphasized that “there are no safety concerns.”

Read more on the Centers for Disease Control website

(this link provides information on how the recall is a non-safety related, voluntary recall of the vaccine)

The next message I received from Mamasource, dated December 17th, was this:

Get the facts on chocolate milk

Did you know studies show kids who drink chocolate milk do not consume more added sugar than non-flavored milk drinkers? In addition, they are more likely to be at a healthy body weight and meet more of their nutrient needs than kids who don’t drink milk.

Learn the facts on chocolate milk and raise your hand in support!

Editor’s note: this message was sponsored by America’s dairy farmers and milk processors to share the facts and science on chocolate milk.

So it’s become crystal clear just what is going on here – Mamasource does the work of getting all these mothers to sign up and create a profile on its site, and creates a “safe” forum where mothers feel able to talk about their problems and challenges – whether it be health, personal, financial, child-rearing, or any other life-related topic. Mamasource then sends “digests” in e-mails to its members to generate interest in thread topics and discussions.

And just lately, it seems, the digests have contained information from specific entities that represent viewpoints I’m not on board with – marketing information about chocolate milk and the swine flu vaccine? Come on! How stupid do they think I am? But what’s worse is that millions of moms are going to receive these e-mail messages and just believe it because the CDC or chocolate milk campaign tells them it’s true! It’s ghastly!

And of course, all the data and “scientific” sources used on Mamasource are either directly from the companies selling the products or from other entities who receive funding from those companies to promote their products. Now, if that’s not biased, I don’t know what is!

Now I don’t need to lecture on why I don’t buy chocolate milk, or how unethical I think the chocolate milk campaign is, the health problems associated with drinking it or conventional milk, for that matter. We all know how unhealthy it is. Nor should I even have to discuss the problems with the Swine Flu vaccine.

This is a good lesson for me, as I’m always one to tell everyone else to follow the money in anything. Just the other day on Facebook I had posted information about the Swine Flu vaccine being recalled – this was days before Mamasource sent out their information. Someone I know responded and said that the vaccine had been tested and provided this link to the CDC. I responded saying that I didn’t trust the CDC and that they have ties to drug companies. He disagreed and said that “they do a great job of providing evidence-based, unbiased information”. My final response was to provide a link with information about lawsuits as a result of the conflict-of-interest between drug companies having ties to the U.S. government. I also said that in order to trust something, you had to research where the money trail was coming from.

I also think it’s interesting when people defend a vaccine by saying that it’s been “tested”, so therefore it’s perfectly fine. And yet, if it’s perfectly fine, why is it being recalled? Shouldn’t the testing have included whether or not the vaccine was acceptable, on all levels, for dispersal? Even if the reason for its recall is not supposedly “safety” related and only potency related, wouldn’t that make people feel a bit cheated by the organizations and companies they trusted with their health?

Basically, the headlines are detailing how the vaccines aren’t worth much since their potency was found to be inconsistent or inferior somehow due to the manner in which they were manufactured. And still, here’s an example of someone still defending the vaccine. Unbelievable!

At any rate…this is just one small thing I wanted to blow the whistle on, and inform people about – as I feel very strongly about supporting food growers, manufacturers, and campaigns that are ethical and moral. It’s my way of boycotting this group and any others like it, as well as manufacturers and companies who sell products that are unhealthy to consume – on so many levels.

I was never really that involved on the Mamasource web site anyway – but now I am officially withdrawing my membership. And I sent a note of disapproval to the Raise Your Hand for Chocolate Milk Campaign web site – which I very much encourage everyone reading this to do as well.

Does anyone have a story to share about something like this that has happened to them? I’d love to hear your about your experiences and what you have done to combat a situation that entailed initially supporting something you ultimately didn’t believe in and how you mended your ways.

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11 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Hi Raine,

    I had a similar dilemma…yet different. I wrote all about it here: http://kellythekitchenkop.com/2009/11/bye-bye-google-ads.html

    All we can do is keep plugging away at these issues. Keep spreading the word far and wide so others eventually GET IT when it comes to Real Food and a natural lifestyle. It can get discouraging, for sure, but then I think of how far we’ve come in just a few years. Things are completely different (as far as the number of informed people and information available) in just the few years since I had my “food conversion”. We’re making headway! Hang in there! 🙂

    Kelly

  2. 2

    AS said,

    Thanks for sharing your story, Kelly! I knew this would be a good one for people to read. And you are right, it’s all about perseverence!

  3. 3

    shelley said,

    I don’t understand something– if you don’t believe in the swine flu vaccine then why are you angry that this website announced that there was a recall of it? I’m part of a local email list with moms I know and we email each other when we hear about recalls. I think it’s helpful to know about.

  4. 4

    AS said,

    Shelley – here’s the problem with the recall information – it’s that the recall is relaying misinformation about why the vaccines are recalled. If you read most of the literature available about the recalls, including that from Mamasource, there are a lot of mistruths being propagated about why they are being recalled in the first place – such as that it is not an issue of safety but potency. That’s my problem with it. Not everything is always what it seems, and people are going to falsely believe that the CDC and companies manufacturing the vaccines are still being careful, because it’s supposedly not a “safety” issue. But as I pointed out in my post, even if the reason for its recall is not supposedly “safety” related and only potency related, wouldn’t that make people feel a bit cheated by the organizations and companies they trusted with their health? And by Mamasource’s release of information (see above), the “expert” Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases stated that this is not a “safety” concern, yet why are they recalling the vaccines in the first place if there is no problem? And the fact that 800,000 vaccines were recalled should make a red flag go up for everyone that perhaps this is not just a potency issue. Finally, vaccines are not safe in the first place, and yet repeatedly, we hear from the mainstream media how safe and useful they are. It’s all a bunch of contradictions and false information, and none of it adds up. If Mamasource was going to be responsible and truthful about information released to people, they should make sure it is accurate and truthful.

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