Have you ever found yourself walking down the grocery store aisle and wondering which of the many different claims boasting the most natural or healthy ingredients to believe? It’s confusing. It turns out that confusion is intentional. In this episode we learn why.
Our guests are two members of the Public Justice Food Project – Litigation Director David Muraskin and Communications and Organizing Coordinator Masha Vernik.
David, Masha, and their team recently published “Hormel Deep Dive,” a groundbreaking website that provides access to an archive of compelling and previously inaccessible documents uncovered in false advertising litigation against Hormel Foods.
“Consumers want to shop in ways that align with their values,” the website’s description reads, “but the lack of transparency in labeling and advertising poses a major barrier to doing so. This deep dive introduces revelations—many in Hormel’s own words—about the severity of Hormel’s factory-farm practices and the extent to which Hormel sought to deceive and take advantage of customers in marketing its line.” The documents – including marketing materials, depositions of Hormel executives, and tradeshow presentations – “paint a damning picture of industrial meat products like Hormel’s and the branding used to sell them.”
Listen to what David and Masha have to say about what these documents reveal and why they matter to consumers. Also, hear why this deep-dive approach is a model for leveraging and surfacing hard-won litigation discovery to more broadly expose the details of corporate misconduct.
David focuses on impact litigation – actions intended to bring about societal change – to counter the harms of corporate concentration, particularly in the industrial animal agriculture sector. David litigates constitutional, consumer, and worker matters. Prior to joining Public Justice, David prosecuted qui tam litigation, served as the Alan Morrison Supreme Court Assistance Project Fellow with Public Citizen, and clerked for Judge James L. Dennis on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. David has taught courses on impact litigation and complex civil litigation at George Washington Law School, Vermont Law School, and Georgetown University Law Center. He graduated from Stanford Law School with distinction, has a master’s from Oxford University, St. Anthony’s College, in forced migration, and received a BA from the University of Chicago with highest honors.
Masha supports “the movement part” of movement-oriented legal advocacy by crafting strategic narratives alongside impacted communities to make the case for a regenerative and just food system. Masha organizes a seed-saving network for growers to connect with culturally resonant seeds as part of the Jewish Seed Project. She came to Public Justice with experience as a city council campaign manager in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a farm worker at a mid-sized diversity vegetable farm in Washington State, and as a student organizer for fossil fuel divestment. Marsha graduated from Boston University, summa cum laude, with a BA in International Relations.
I hope you find this episode inspiring and informative! We’re very proud of the work David and Masha do, and appreciate them sharing their experience on this important project.
Susan Gombert, Host
Justice Pod: Conversations with Public Justice Change Makers