Thursday, September 19, 2013

I'll Be Eating My Burritos Elsewhere

Hey Chipotle.

I've seen your videos.

They've forced me to have an array of emotions; none of them being positive.

However, I know better than to believe your imaginary marketing ploy.

None the less, it doesn't sit well with me that a good majority of the over 5.5 million people that have viewed your recent video don't know any better.

Unfortunately, a good majority of those said 5.5 million people actually believe this is imaginary video you put together is true today.

Which is irritating to folks like me who are working hard to feed the world.

Because images like these ...

... they slap people like my family and other families (some of which are good friends of mine) in the face.

And I wouldn't be able to call myself an Agvocate if I stood here silent.

So lets jump off the imagination train and bring this back to reality for a hot minute.

For a company who prides themselves on serving food with integrity, I find it funny you are portraying the exact opposite of what Agriculture actually looks like today in your videos.

The definition of integrity is possessing strong character; adhering to moral and ethical principles as well as being honest and fair.

Apparently you and I don't have the same copy of the Webster's Dictionary since I can't seem to find any of the above mentioned qualities in any of your videos.

Chipotle, you have completely missed the boat on being honest and fair and it pisses me off. So, let me break it down for you...

I am blessed to have a job, and volunteer in different organizations, which allow me to work and interact with farmers on a daily basis. With some of these farmers, I go to their farms to observe their farm operation first hand. With other farmers, I have conversations with them to learn how they chose to run their farm operation.

And guess what?

Contrary to your beliefs, not every farm operator raises their livestock in a confinement building or strips the land of everything that is green.

First and foremost, farmers care for the land, the environment and their livestock because without these things they have nothing. Not to mention, farming is more than a livelihood for these families; it is their passion. So please help me understand why you think they would want to jeopardize that?

I challenge you, Chipotle, to show a real farm or ranch in your video, instead of an imaginary one. Don't you think your valued customers deserve to see where their food really comes from?

Your video portrays meat being processed in factories. I'm curious to know where you think your meat comes from? Do you really think that Farmer Joe goes out to the back 40, kills the animals, and process the meat for you there? I can assure you he does not.

Don't act like because you have the "All Natural" label on your products they are exempt from these "factories" you paint such a negative light on.

Chipotle, I can't help but find myself confused after seeing images like this:

and this:

in your recent video.

What the heck is this? Is this what you really think dairy operations and farm ground looks like today; cows who never see sunlight and farm ground that is barren?

I have lived in rural America my whole life and I can say with complete honesty I have NEVER seen anything that looks like this.

Because when I drive around my home this is what I see:

I see cows in open fields basking in the sun.

I see new life in its most beautiful form.

I see green cornfields grown on nutrient rich soil.

I see soybean fields that have been meticulously cared for.  
And just yesterday, I drove around rural America and this was my view.
Don't act like you don't find this view beautiful too.  

So, long story short, I challenge you to drive out to rural America and visit a family farm or ranch to see how Agriculture really looks today.

I challenge you to have conversations with livestock farmers to ask questions so you can better understand things like why they use antibiotics when their calf comes down with pneumonia.

I challenge you to find out why a grain farmer would consider taking out a terrace or 5 acres of trees around his field.

If all else fails, Chipotle, you are welcome to my family's farm anytime.

My family and I would be more than happy to educate you about our Agriculture practices and show you around beautiful rural America.

Maybe after this visit you will be able to produce your next video with the amount of integrity your label so proudly boasts about?

Until then, I'll be satisfying my burrito cravings elsewhere.


  1. AWESOME post girlfriend! Thanks for sharing the true story of agriculture.

  2. Fan-freaking-tastic MICHELLE! You tell them!

  3. Chipotle isn't trying to portray what rural America and farms look like now, they're saying how they are trying to have better products than the other fast food places.
    It's an animation, not real life. I understand where you're coming from and it makes sense. However, that's not what the advertisement was going for. It explained what it was going for in the description of the video..

    "In a dystopian fantasy world, all food production is controlled by fictional industrial giant Crow Foods. Scarecrows have been displaced from their traditional role of protecting food, and are now servants to the crows and their evil plans to dominate the food system. Dreaming of something better, a lone scarecrow sets out to provide an alternative to the unsustainable processed food from the factory."

    If anything, Chipotle is pushing for how farms are now. Because that is what the 'good guy' in the ad is doing. Growing his own food because he loves it, it's his passion to feed people well. Just like farmers.

  4. Thanks for your comment Breann! While I'm glad you see the video that way, the moral of the story is that Chipotle is trying to use a scare tactic to urge consumers to think that if they aren't eating organic food their food is not safe, which is one sided and ultimately extremely untrue. While I respect that some farmers choose to be organic producers, the reality is that there are millions of people in this world who are starving, and the population continues to grow every day. If every farmer chose to grow food organically, we would then have billions starving. Our job, as farmers, is to produce more on the land we have (because they aren't making any more of it) and get better yields more efficiently (because they aren't making any more time for us to get it all done either) year after year in an effort to reduce that number. And guess what? We are! And we are doing so in a healthy and humane way, unlike what Chipotle would like you to believe. The reality is that farming doesn't look like it did 100 years ago, or even 50 years ago. And it shouldn't. We have hungry people to feed and we (farmers) have found a safe way of doing so, even if it isn't organic. And that is OK! We have to continue to evolve our farming practices in an evolving world, and we want our consumers to know they should not be scared of the food on their table because we are producing it in a safe, healthy and humane way.

    1. Thanks for your enthusiasm for rural America, and your dedication to your roots. I, like you, love and respect the land and the farmers who care for the land. Unfortunately, as for our food system, it is largely owned and mined by corporations using their serfs to do their bidding. Farmers are slaves to industrial Ag, and are completely ridiculed by fellow farmers, neighbors, and family if they go in the face of this. I agree that Organic is not exempt from this reality. For the most part Organic, the label, does not mean much for caring for the land. It still conforms to a global-industrial, feed the world nonsense. Rather than feeding the world we should probably try feeding our selves first. Obviously our food systems have changed, and one good measure of this is the obesity and diet related disease we see in this country. It has been on the rise since we stopped butchering on farm and started trusting the factory system. Now we are a a country of couch potatoes. I have not seen the Chipolte videos because I do not have a TV, but I can see why they have pushed a few buttons for some. I am sure they have not gone far enough for others. The true pictures of these factory operations are portrayed pretty honestly in many documentaries. Fresh, Food Inc, American meat, e mucho mas. For the goal of feeding the world we are failing miserably. This industry driven food system has created food born illness that reach across dozens of states and multiple countries with one outbreak after another. Plus the use of antibiotic for the treatment of a calf who has pneumonia is a far cry from the use of antibiotics in the feed ration of a feed lot to increase the growth. Also the newest studies on the long term affect of GMO's is gut wrenching, literally. Gastrointestinal disease is running rampant in our critters and ourselves. Also the fields, as you portray in your corn picture, are not nutrient rich, but rather nutrient deficient and lifeless. There is little to no natural mineral cycling occurring. This is why we use such a dose of Anhydrous Ammonia and phosphorus that we have a huge dead zone (hypoxic zone) in the gulf of Mexico. This is the area where the algae has bloomed so heavily do to fertilizer that is uses up all the dissolved oxygen and kills off all other life. This is one of hundreds of dead zones created by fertilizer. After a couple years of bad drought we can see the lack of resilience of this system. I am not blaming any one farmer for any of this. It is agribusiness that is perpetuating this sick system that enslaves the farmers. The banks will not give out a loan to anyone who apposes this system. There is a huge difference between the 30 cow calf operation you photographed and the 10,000 head feed lot operation where our beef comes from. I worked in a small local locker where all the customers assumed our beef was local. The owner did not correct any of these assumptions even though all of our retail beef was from a box, from a feed lot. Now on to feeding the world; Our great country once had nearly 10 times the ruminant lbs as we currently do with our feed lot system. This was when the native tribes managed the largest herds of ruminant animals throughout the great plains, the bison. With this rotational management the health of the herd was impeccable without any antibiotics, hormones, or corn. This system created more biodiversity and stored energy in the form of carbon in the soil. The biodiversity breaks down the forage into organic matter which is turned into humus by the soil biota. This humus in turn allowed the plant life to thrive and created natural mineral cycling. Farmers used to use this basic principle of sustainability. This is when 99% of our population were farmers. Now 1% of our population farm, all in the name of efficiency. I could go on, and on... and on, but here are a few ideas to ruminate over, and once again I am so encouraged by your true love for our great Agrarian nation. We will be the ones to put the culture back in Agriculture. Thank you.

    2. This was Andy Hayner not Noelle Harden, but our joint Gmail account says Noelle. Thank you.

  5. Yeah, I think you missed the point of the ad. While a lot (maybe the majority) of farms run much like the ones you are accustomed to, there are far too many "farms" that torture animals in large quantities just for their meat. If you haven't heard the KFC scandal where they pumped their chickens full of steroids to make them bigger or McDonalds(?) where some of their suppliers were torturing cows en masse before harvesting their meat, they are serious concerns.

    It's not rural America they are bashing, it's the people they are SUPPORTING. They are saying they support the local, fresh farms that do it right. They are trying to say they aren't some big institution that is running basically a "factory farm".

    I don't even like Chipotle, but I have to side with them on this argument.

  6. Amonymous- I just have to follow up on your post. I am an Iowa Farmer that raises corn, soybeans and pigs; and have a few things for you to think about.

    American agriculture prides itself on caring for animals in a humane manner. Not only does our livelihood depend on it, but we are also eating the food we produce, so we have motivation to do it right. You may have seen cases where animals have been treated inhumanely, but thankfully that is the extreme minority. Unfortunately, these stories are what you hear about (or have chosen to seek out) because, just like people who commit horrible crimes get more press time than the person to whom the crime was committed; the bad ones are the stories that get told. There are bad eggs in all facets of life, and we will never get past that. I urge you to seek out the good ones.

    Chipotle is not in anyway supporting rural america in this campaign. The fact of the matter is that we can't feed the world from our backyard garden. Our world population is more than 7 billion people today, and it is estimated that by 2050 we will be upwards of 12 billion people. So, we will have an estimated 5 billion more people to feed, and I don't think in the next 37 years we are going to be producing any more land. Just because we raise row crops and pigs, and send them to a processing plant to be sold across the world, where it is needed most, does not mean that we are "bad" or a "factory farm".

    We raise pigs in confined housing because it protects them from the extreme temperatures that a Northwest Iowa winter and summer can bring. So, are we "a big institution that is running basically a 'factory farm'?" Would urge you to come visit an operation like this, and show you why this truly is the best way to raise protein efficiently and healthfully for the growing world.

    Please do some more research, and do me a favor- don't limit yourself to PETA and HSUS websites when you do your research.