Saturday, March 1, 2014

Dangerous Burritos

I have never hidden my disdain or dislike for Chipotle. Personally I have a hard time turning the other cheek when another entity wants to tear down what you do for a living just to build their business up. You might remember that Chipotle is the restaurant chain promoting “food with integrity” (their words not mine). In the past they have launched slick cartoon ads aimed at changing the way farmers raise your food (again, their words, not mine).
Chipotle seems particularly to take aim at what they consider large, industrial agriculture. However, in doing so they also make the farmers and ranchers look like mindless, money-grubbing shills for the big corporations. Now they have introduced a “comedy” TV show called “Farmed and Dangerous” that follows along that same theme.
The premise of the show is that a big corporation develops a new cattle feed made purely from petroleum. It does have one disturbing side effect causing cattle to spontaneously explode. The big, evil corporation hides this troubling development until the handsome, guy-next-door farmer exposes them on the internet.
The CEO of Chipotle has stated during interviews promoting the show that they hope it will bring awareness to the public about how their food is raised. Chipotle’s end goal is to force farmers and ranchers to change how food is raised. They would like to do away with modern swine and poultry production systems and the use of antibiotics. Chipotle is also concerned about corporate farms and large agriculture related firms like Monsanto.
They pride themselves for creating a fresher, healthier burrito. Oh and along the way they want to champion a better, kinder, friendlier way of producing our food. Let’s not mince words here. If you believe that Chipotle is going on this marketing campaign because they want to improve the world and make you healthier, I have a bridge in New York to sell you. They are creating all of this to sell more burritos, open more restaurants and make themselves richer. I have no problem with being successful and wealthy, but I do if it means destroying people (especially the ones who feed you) to get there.
I find it more than a little ironic that a large corporate chain of restaurants would have a problem with corporate farms. They champion family farms, but by being a large chain aren’t they doing the same thing to the local café’? But I digress, since when has a CEO of a restaurant known more about producing food and agriculture than those of us who do it every day?
While this idealist notion of small family farms with Ma and Pa and ten cows helps them sell their food, it does nothing for feeding a growing world population. Our modern corporate farms (most of which are family farms) have grown and expanded over the years because of an increase in technology. Name another industry that has not gotten larger and more automated in the past fifty years.
Please don’t think Chipotle is championing this cause because they care about you. I would guess that they are much closer to the corporate money grubbers than the clean cut do-gooders. I will not ask you to boycott their establishments; I will let you make up your own mind on this matter. All I can do is to tell you what I intend to do myself.
I will never, ever darken the doorway of a Chipotle restaurant. I will not spend my money in an establishment that does not respect what I do or my friends who have spent an entire lifetime of hard work developing new technology that allows us to grow more food, with less land, with less inputs and with less impact of the environment around us.
I will, however, thank Chipotle for bringing this issue to the forefront and allowing us to have this discussion. I look forward to reassuring everyone who I come in contact with that our food supply is safe, nutritious and wholesome. I appreciate the opportunity Chipotle has given me to debunk the rumors, misinformation and outright lies they continue to push forward.
 I love talking about what I do and I am proud of the way I grow your food, just ask me. I invite anyone to sit down and discuss how their food is grown over lunch. I assure you it will not be at Chipotle, but I can suggest a great local café’ close to my house. I go there because they appreciate farmers.

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