They are calling it “Farmed and Dangerous.”
Chipotle is going to use the online broadcasting company Hulu to launch an original “comedy” series aimed at exposing today’s terrible farming methods. Thankfully, the show will only be shown on Hulu, which should limit viewers — and also indicates that no television networks would pick it up.
The first episode:
“Farmed and Dangerous” satirizes the lengths to which corporate agribusiness and its image-makers go to create a positive image of industrial agriculture. The first season focuses on the introduction of PetroPellet(R) , a new petroleum-based animal feed created by fictional industrial giant Animoil(R) . PetroPellet promises to reduce industrial agriculture’s dependence on oil by eliminating the need to grow, irrigate, fertilize and transport the vast amount of feed needed to raise livestock on factory farms. Before its new feed formula can forever reshape industrial agriculture, Animoil’s plans go awry when a revealing security video goes viral sending Animoil and their spin master, Buck Marshall of the Industrial Food Image Bureau (IFIB), into damage control mode.
Because that is exactly what agriculture needs: more negative portrayals so we can scare more consumers. (Note my heavy dose of sarcasm.) Of course, the ridiculously hypocritical thing is that Chipotle obviously gets their food from a farm somewhere. I wonder if their suppliers feel betrayed by these shenanigans.
Chiptole’s comedy follows in what the chain thinks is part of their role of bringing better food, and a holier-than-thou attitude, to the market place. According to the chain:
Chipotle has a long-standing commitment to finding better, more sustainable sources for all of the ingredients it uses, including Responsibly Raised(R) meats (from animals that are raised in a humane way and without the use of antibiotics or added hormones), local and organically grown produce, and dairy products from pasture-raised dairy cattle. The company has also taken on the issue of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food, becoming the first national restaurant company to voluntarily disclose the use of GMOs in its food, and the first to announce plans to eliminate GMOs from the ingredients it uses.
You can read the rest of their press release here.
But this attempt at “alerting” consumers to issues in farming is really just another attempt at scaring consumers into buying Chipotle’s products. I first posted about the chain in September in a Culture of Fear article regarding the advertisement “The Scarecrow.” (You can read it here.) In that web commercial, the company was heavy on dramatics and deception and light on the truth and facts. The animation gave a ridiculous version of modern farming that was so far from reality that it could have been considered comedy if it wasn’t scary how many people probably fell for it.
(It prompted the response of “Honest Scarecrow.”)
We can expect more of the same from the mini-series. “Farmed and Dangerous” will be a collection of more distortions, more lies, and more scare tactics.
I can’t honestly believe that Chipotle is so misinformed about these topics that they don’t know better. The truth is, they know that what they’re putting out is ridiculous and they like the publicity it gives them. And while this blog post, and any future posts, might be falling into that trap, I can’t just sit by and watch this circus continue without saying something.
Without really caring about the consequences, Chipotle is going to create needless fear and confusion among consumers.
But that’s what they’re hoping – they want to bring fear and confusion so you’ll make the choice to shop at their fast food joint. You’ll choose them over the more popular choices. You’ll think they’re somehow better than all the other choices. In the end, this is a marketing scheme — a terribly dishonest and manipulative one, but a marketing scheme all the same.
And at the end of the day it doesn’t just hurt consumers, it also hurts the millions of farm families around the country. Chipotle might want to label what we’re doing as “industrial” farming, unsustainable, immoral, or whatever else, but each and every single day our farmers are getting up and working to provide safe and nutritious food for families in our nation and world. According to the EPA, 90% of farms in the US are family farms. Of the remaining, 90% are family farms that have incorporated for liability protection. When a chain fast food restaurant creates a deceptive show about how terrible our agriculture industry is, they’re attacking those hard working dads, moms, brothers, and sisters.
They’re trying to make our families, including mine, look like the enemy. But I’m not going to just sit here and let them.
They might think it’s a joke that we want to tell people about our industry and our passion, but I don’t. We absolutely have a right to explain to folks what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and why we’ve made these decisions. We absolutely have the right to talk about and defend our livelihoods from people that are attacking us.
Our farmers deserve a whole lot better than this junk.