I am a pretty easy going guy, it takes a lot to get me fired up, but recently a Chipotle ad did just that. Some of you might be familiar with Chipotle restaurants; they are a chain selling tex-mex food. They have long been known for their social activism mainly using phrases like “anti-biotic free”, “responsibility raised “, “confinement free”, “free of industrial agriculture”; all of these are in quotes because they are their words and not mine.
Let me be very clear, this is nothing new for Chipotle. I have never and will never enter one of their establishments, nor will I ever. I refuse to spend my money in a place that mocks and criticizes something they know nothing about. They have long been enemies of those of us practicing modern, conventional agriculture. But now they have taken it to a new level.
Recently they released a web based, You Tube ad that belittles all of us working to produce food every day. I am sure some of you have seen it and it is fairly easy to find. It is an animated piece that features a very forlorn looking scarecrow. It shows the poor scarecrow going to work for Crow Foods, a big, nasty, uncaring, cold, industrial corporation exploiting animals, plants and workers to produce unwholesome food.
The scarecrow goes about his day watching as chickens are injected with medicines that make them swell up, cows are confined to crates, and crops are covered with nasty pesticides. Then the food is processed in unnatural shapes and boxed up to be delivered mechanically to mindless consumers. All they while, mechanical crows with red eyes bully everything around them.
At one point the scarecrow is on a train and a billboard proclaims that “Crow Foods feeding the world”. The world is a very barren, depressing desert with little or no signs of life. That is until our scarecrow arrives at his own humble farmstead. It is a small, wonderful, colorful, green place complete with a two story red barn, corn patch and very healthy looking little chipotle peppers (well isn’t that a surprise).
Mr. Scarecrow then comes up with the life altering decision to pick his produce and take it back into the wasteland of the city. He chops, dices and seasons this wonderful food that he begins selling to all of the consumers long abused by the big evil corporate Crow Foods. Oh and along the way he scares off the mechanical crow henchmen. It is a very well written, wonderfully produced piece of absolute propaganda and is totally fiction.
At the end of the ad I was so outraged and offended by the outright lies and total misrepresentations that I could not see straight. I waited a day (to cool off) and went to their corporate (yes they are a corporation, I find that ironic) website. They also have a scarecrow game and more propaganda about how responsible they are and how they would like to make those of us in agriculture more responsible (like them).
So let’s be very clear Chipotle. I do not, have never, and will never be a minion to a big corporation. Sure I benefit by using the innovations that have been developed by large corporations such as Monsanto, but they do not control me anymore than Ford controls you because you drive one of their cars. As for the accusation that I am not responsible because I utilize the best in veterinary medicines to care for my livestock, this is one of the most absurd statements I have ever heard. Providing the best care I can for my animals is responsible, making a social statement is not by not using antibiotics is not.
At first, I simply ignored Chipotle, I did not agree with their ideas but they had a right to their opinion. Then they came after my chosen career and profession. Did they do this out of a sense of social responsibility? Maybe, but I would guess not. I suspect they are using scare tactics and fear mongering to sell burritos. That is wrong and should not be tolerated by those of us in agriculture.
I will say they are right about one thing. I think we all rely on processed food too much and we all certainly eat out too much. So my solution is that I and my family will not eat at Chipotle. We will instead utilize the safe, abundant, wholesome food grown on our farm and farms just like ours and cook our meals at home. The food I produce is safe, it is produced responsibly and I will not patronize establishments who do not share my ethics and values.