When Birke Baehr was 8-years-old he read a post online over his mother’s shoulder about mercury being in HFCS-high fructose corn syrup.
Birke writes that when he started looking into “this thing about HFCS I just got more and more curious, and it led me to discover all of the things I talk about in my TEDx Talk.”
By the time Birke reached 11-years-old, he (and/or his parents) considered himself an activist, and very passionate about organic farming.
In 2010, Birke gave a Ted Talk on what’s wrong with our food system and discussed being “deceived by advertisers that prey on the innocence of children.”
His five-minute talk was posted to YouTube and went viral, and now his video has been viewed almost two million times.
The News Sentinel’s Matthew Best explains Birke wants consumers to consider not just what they buy but what is in it, how it is made, and where it comes from.
In his book, “Birke on the Farm,” Birke tells of how an Internet news story on mercury found in high fructose corn syrup inspired him to learn more about the industrialized food industry.
Birke was apparently so deeply moved, his dreams of becoming an NFL player evaporated in favor of owning and operating an organic farm, and in spreading the organic Gospel.
“I also used to think that all of our food came from these happy little farms where pigs rolled around in mud and cows grazed on grass all day,” said Birke. “What I discovered is that this is not true.”
Not everyone is impressed with Birke, who is now 14. Writing for The Stir, Catherine Crawford claims she’s creeped out by him, “as it feels like someone took his little pre-teen brain and thoroughly washed it.”
Crawford continues: “Maybe I’m being too misanthropic and hypocritical… Someone coached him and then pimped him out. Is it okay that this is for a good cause? Certainly, it’s better than baby beauty pageants. In fact, it’s probably even better than child acting, which I have no problem with.”
Writing for a news magazine that caters to liberals, Green Philly comments:
“There are enormously wealthy companies such as Monsanto, Dow, and Kraft Foods who do not want us to even get a hint of what he’s talking about here. That’s the beauty of Social Media and the internet — it means we can pass these kinds of clips around and get folks to pay attention.”
I am particularly amused by those concerned about little Birke being coached to speak publicly about organic food, good nutrition and sustainable farming methods.
How about the coaching of millions of kids by corporate mass media with ads that pimp junk food?
Children in America spend approximately 44.5 hours per week watching television and are exposed to up to 3,055 ads per year. Around 50 percent of the ads are for candy, snacks, sugary cereal, and fast food.
As a result, one third of American children are overweight or obese, and 50 percent of overweight children remain overweight even into adulthood.
Birke has continued speaking and traveling and has been featured on blogs, websites, newsletters and podcast interviews sharing his knowledge and passion about food.
He enjoys growing his own vegetables, checking out local farmers markets, farms and locally owned restaurants that support local farms.
Birke also enjoys civil war history, reading, writing, doing research, traveling with his family and spending time with his 78-year-old Grandfather.