There are quite a few companies, brands, and organizations that like to beat up on conventional agriculture. This is achieved through social media, subtle marketing, and branding. These entities want you to think their product is superior because it was produced using a special production method or carries a fancy certification label.
But there are three companies that have taken their pummeling of family farmers to a whole new level, even though they can’t seem to get their own stuff together.
Whole Foods, Clif Bar, and Chipotle all use conventional farming as their personal punching bags, but each of the companies have run into their own problems recently. Maybe there’s some connection between having a dirty product and rejecting modern farming methods?
Here’s a closer look at each of these culprits and their dirty deeds.
This chain grocery store is credited with ushering in the organic food movement and making the foodie culture popular. But this temple of pseudo-science has also focused its efforts against genetically modified foods by requiring labels and even phasing out companies that won’t go GMO-free. Please don’t think that this elitist food attitude means the company sells a higher quality product though!
On June 6, 2016, the FDA laid the smack down in a letter to Whole Foods letting them know that inspections at several of their facilities turned up a whole lot of nasty regulatory violations. The violations included food that was put under a dripping condenser, ready-to-eat food was being kept by a hand washing station with no splash guard, and stored utensils and dishes on carts with pooled water.
But this is hardly Whole Food’s first brush with nasty food practices in the past few years. Remember when the store realized it’s fresh meat was crawling with maggots and continued to sell it for another 7 hours? Last year, there was a listeria scare with blue cheese being sold by the grocery chain. They were even caught overcharging for weighed food items. And let’s not forget about asparagus water.
Clif Bar is the most recent company to join the ranks of dirty and hypocritical, but they did it in a large and loud fashion. Seed Matters, an initiative of the Clif Bar Family Foundation, recently dropped the vulgar and crass Mr. Seed video. It treats viewers to a whole animated video of bad information about genetically modified crops, all while singing the praises of organic agriculture. The video, which has outraged farmers, is one of the boldest attacks on family farmers yet.
But the level at which you can attack farmers does not correspond with the safety of your food.
Earlier this year, the company was forced to recall its trail mix and energy bars due to concerns of contamination with listeria. The bars may have contained sunflower seeds with the bacteria. Whoops.
Over the years, Chipotle has made a name for itself by hating on conventional family farmers – it seems like their only marketing campaign is aimed at agriculture! The company’s main campaign is “Food with Integrity.” The bashing started with Chipotle’s advertisement, “The Scarecrow,” which tried to impress upon viewers that today’s farmers are nothing more than big corporate entities attempting to make a buck by pumping our food full of chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones. Then, the chain launched its online mini-series aimed at mocking and slandering farmers. Chipotle has derided GMOs, slandered conventional family farmers, criticized the way we care for our animals, accused of mistreating the environment, and a whole host of other vile and baseless accusations.
Considering the restaurant’s obsession with better food, their recod is less than stellar.
While the chain fast food restaurant has been successfully lambasting modern agriculture, it’s been a lot less successful in selling uncontaminated food. Following outbreaks of foodborne illness in 2008 and 2009, the company was plagued with a large number of customer illnesses in 2015. It was so bad the restaurant may have sickened about half of the Boston College basketball team.
Here’s an idea for all the companies that think the way to profit and move up in the world is to beat up on agriculture – don’t. The companies that spend the most time and money on these vile campaigns always seem to be the ones with the most internal problems. Perhaps they think that if they point the finger at the farm, they can avoid closer scrutiny into their own products.
Try sticking to your own businesses.
Eric Bjerregaard says
It’s a shame that some marketing folks do not understand the difference between short term sale and long term self interest. It is quite stunning that the management isn’t smart enough to stifle this crap. Or perhaps they have jelly for spines.
Let’s not forget the fear profiteer in chief Gary Hirshberg please. He leads such initiatives as Only a Organic and Just Label It disparaging GMOs, pesticides and other tools of modern agriculture. Yet who does Hirshberg’s multi-billion dollar company turn to for help maintaining food safety & hygene after having to recall their Yo-baby infant yogurt for bacterial contamination ? Biotech and chemical giant DuPont….
It should be noted that the listeria contaminated sunflower seeds were organic, not conventional.
Cheri Byrnes says
Great article guys!! Us Aussie Farmers also have difficulties with false & misleading information dished out to the unsuspecting consumer. But the saying here is: “All so called organic farmers spray their crops & produce in the dark of night so the real consumers don’t know what they’re eating”