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.
Sarah [NurseLovesFar says
If people are, to be rude, dumb enough to believe the BS that Chipotle is setting forth and giving modern agriculture practices such a bad name? Then so be it. We don't have Chipotle's where I live but I will never ever set foot in one or give them any of my dollars when we travel. If you want to be a nice restaurant and target the organic market and those that fear GMO's for no good, scientific reason – fine. But why throw good, hard-working farmers and their families under the bus?
I am wondering what your thoughts are regarding a few resolutions that the Wisconsin Farm Bureau passed in their recent annual meeting?1.) Support requiring a non-probationary drivers license to operate any agricultural equipment.2.) Support a 1/2 % sales tax with that money going back to the respective county/township for county and township road repair.3.) Support sustainability discussions between farmers and consumers.Thank-you
Thanks for the question! I haven't actually heard of any of these proposals out of Wisconsin or researched them, so my thoughts are just based on what you've posted. #1: At first blush, I would probably be opposed to it. I suspect it only applies to driving equipment on the road though. But I think a lot of farm kids can do a better job of driving than a lot of non-farm adults and I would worry about elderly farmers not being able to drive equipment. A#2: We have a sales tax here in Michigan and it is 6%, so I don't think that one is too bad at all. #3: I think the final one is pretty much what I do now! So, I definitely support #3!!
Thank-you for your comments. And to answer the # 1 proposal, nothing in the language indicates that this is for "on-road" only.
Chipotle is not really a fast food restaurant, if that's what you're thinking. You go in, you order, you sit down and eat. Or you can go in, order, and carry it out. But everything is fresh and they do support farms because obviously they get the ingredients from somewhere, it's just that the farms are local ya know? It's Big Agra that they seem to be demonizing, not family farms. I'm pretty sure viewers can grasp the difference.
Well, you can argue whether or not it's a fast food restaurant if you want, but it's pretty darn close (yes, I've been there before). Did you know that 96% of farms in the United States are family farms? Family farms come in all sizes – large, medium, and small.Rather, Chipotle is demonizing production methods, but they aren't being honest about what those methods are. Rather, they're sensationalizing them so they can get a rise out of people. Furthermore, the "Industrial Food Image Bureau" is clearly a shot at the national and state Farm Bureaus. Farm Bureau represents farmers of all sizes, including family farms. So, Chipotle is definitely taking a stab at any and all conventional farmers in the US — they don't care if you're a family farm or not.Regardless, demonizing any part of the industry by lying about their production methods is unfair and, quite frankly, unethical.Further, "local" means nothing more than where the food is grown and even then it doesn't have a recognized definition. In fact, by definition, ALL farms are local to somewhere (even the "big" ones you seem to dislike). But just because the food is produced farther way doesn't make it bad, nor does it make food good because it's grown in town. Plus, you know how I KNOW Chipotle isn't using local produce in their stores? Because we have a Chipotle in Michigan, which is currently buried with several feet of snow. Do you think they drove out to the "local" farm and purchased the peppers and onions they used today? No.
I believe I remember reading one of your blogs stating federal restrictions on the use of Hormones, what I'm curious about though is how many of the restaurants (not just fast food), actually get their products from farms within the US? I'm a huge supporter of family farms and agriculture within this country, but most companies work on a global scale these days and have the options to procure their meats and vegetables from other countries that may not have the requirements set here in the US. Other countries may not be as good of quality, and could very well come from these "mass produced" farms and ranches that Chipotle is portraying in these videos. There are probably a lot more legalities that I just don’t know about when it comes to bringing in these foods to American families, and I hope I’m not coming off as ignorant here and I’m hoping US companies chose US foods first.
No, this is a pretty blatant attack on US farming. Not to mention, that even McDonald's buys their beef in the United States.However, you do pose a very interesting question in regards to meat being imported into this country. I've been doing a little digging on this and I think it is a great idea for a future post. Until then, I recommend a little reading at the USDA's website. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/i…
Carolyn Zierke says
Very interested in finding voices out there to anti campaign chipotle and educated on real agriculture. They call me the Farmerette.. And would love to connect with you! Help promote a REAL movies documentary coming out this spring.. FARMLAND … http://Www.FARMLANDTHEMOVIE.org for more infor.. Send a message to America we are not backing down on educating the truth about agriculture. We need to unite, before this spins out of control.the Farmerette