How To Adopt A Food Manufacturer For Food Revolution Day: #DitchTheDyes Campaign
Food Revolution Day is tomorrow! I’ve been busy this week trying to encourage folks to take back our food system. I’ve posted my first-ever recorded interview with a child who shared her hilarious and touching perspective on being dye-free. I’ve started a new monthly series of Winners & Losers of Food Coloring lists. And for those who want an immediate, tangible change, I’ve posted up How To Revamp Your Pantry In 3 Easy Steps & Ditch The Food Coloring For Good.
So what can YOU do besides clean out your pantry? You can share all of the above-mentioned resources on Facebook and Pinterest. But you can go a step further – faster. You can engage with American food manufacturers directly through Twitter. I like Twitter because it’s out in the open, and you can use hash tags to really get a movement going.
Lots of parents still don’t use Twitter, as it’s a bit of a mystery – until you jump in and see how effective it can be. I use Twitter to find awesome content related to health, kids, diet, and our food industry. Yes there will be some weird stuff on there too. For instance, I get some bizarro content when I search for the phrase “food dye” – most of which involves people complaining that their moms won’t give them money for food and hair dye, or people asking if they can dye their dogs with Kool-Aid. But you can also hand-pick certain people and companies to follow for more relevant interactions, and that’s how you’re gonna change the world…
I’m no Twitter expert but I’ll share what I know just to get you started.
Before you go all revolutionary, put your flag down long enough to unprotect your tweets. Strategically, it won’t cause you to lose this food fight – it will actually keep you from wasting time. Setting your tweets to ‘protected’ means that you can only send @replies to approved followers, your tweets are not searchable through Twitter or Google, and other users cannot retweet your stuff.
1) Find out which of your family’s favorite foods still have food coloring in them. Look for Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Blue 2, and Green 3. Many families also avoid synthetic preservatives and sweeteners (see “Badditives“). Go to your favorite food manufacturers’ web sites and get their Twitter handle – everyone seems to have one now because they know how effective Twitter could be for engaging consumers. Make a list!
2) Write a question or opinion to them in a clear, respectful way. I have learned from our own food coloring evolution to always ask questions and speak truth to power. Just make sure you’re making your point rather than detracting from it. For example, it’s okay to say you’ll take your money to companies who don’t use additives. It’s not okay to make personal attacks on folks who manage the company’s Twitter account. I like to rant as much as anyone but I have to be careful to keep my goals in sight. I want to engage the food industry to be the leaders in change…I don’t necessarily want to burn bridges (Stonyfield Organic is a great example of working with major manufacturer/retailer Wal-Mart to get organics out to a larger consumer base). Feel free to steal or tweak the examples at the end of this post.
3) Keep your tweets to about 120 characters or less, because this makes it way easier for your followers to retweet them. They need room to type “RT @yourname” at the beginning, so you get tweet cred for authoring the original. They retweet you to their audience, their audience retweets them/you to their audiences, and so on and so forth until you’ve got yourself a revolution.
4) Please add this hash tag to the end of EVERY tweet: #DitchTheDyes. It’s easy to forget this important step, but it makes a huge difference in your ability to make your opinions known. If enough consumers tweet their questions and opinions to food manufacturers using this particular hash tag, then food manufacturers will hopefully take notice and have to respond in some way. Plus it makes it super easy to search for related tweets and host specific chat sessions.
5) Paste a link back to this page, which is a compilation of research studies and a few examples of their competitors (“winners”) who have already removed food coloring from products without going out of business. This part is important. Showing manufacturers where you intend to spend your money, and proving that they have competition with plenty of viable alternatives to their junk, is a powerful tool in shifting the market! They don’t survive without you. They know this. They WISH you didn’t know this.
6) You may want to add “pls RT!” to encourage your followers to spread the word – Because we don’t always have time to compose an artful tweet, but we always have time to click on “retweet” when somebody else pretty much sums it up for us! You can quickly find good ones to retweet by searching either the company’s name, Twitter handle, or the #DitchTheDyes hash tag.
Sample tweets to send to food manufacturers:
.@Pepsico When will you remove carcinogenic dyes in the US, like in Europe? (this is where you add link to info page) #DitchTheDyes
>@KraftFoods Remove synthetic colors, flavors, & preservatives in US market! (add link to info page) #DitchTheDyes
Hey @McDonalds Set an Olympic example: Remove synthetic colors & additives! (add link to info page) #DitchTheDyes
.@Hersheys when will you remove fake dyes like @NestleUK and @CadburyUK did? (add link to info page) #DitchTheDyes
(Note: Did you notice that I added one character or word at the beginning, before the company’s handle? If I would have started it with their handle [example: “@Pepsico When will you…”], it would only go to them, and to your followers who happen to follow that recipient. And did you see how I put competitors’ Twitter handles right into a tweet to @Hersheys? They will all see it. Nothing like a little competition to change the market.)
To save time, schedule numerous tweets ahead by using something like Buffer, HootSuite, or TweetDeck. If you get stuck, look at Twitter’s help center or follow @support for updates about bugs and tips.
Keep it up long after tomorrow. Tweet often. Let’s see how serious they are about their newly touted “online relationships” with their consumers. The more economic and social pressure we apply, the less food manufacturers can ignore what their customers are saying.
Don’t just be a “follower.” We have all the power.