Ryan Goodman has been involved in agriculture all of his life, working on ranches across the country, as well as studying cattle nutrition and reproduction at the college levels. He works daily with farmers and ranchers, helping their voices become part of the national dialogues on food and agriculture topics. You can reach him on Twitter @AgProudRyan, as well as his personal blog, AgricultureProud.com.
Farmers and ranchers are upset about how a burrito company is portraying their business. If you haven't seen them already, Chipotle has run a series of ads during the past few years centered around "Food With Integrity" and the idea that we can "Cultivate a Better World" by eating their burritos.
These ads depict modern food and livestock production through Chipotle's marketing eyes and as their spokespeople tell us, the motive is to raise awareness about learning more about where our food comes from. But does Chipotle practice what it preaches?
The Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill sets itself apart from most other chain restaurants by serving burritos with a side of buzzwords. Many of their ingredients are labeled natural, organic, and "Responsibly Raised" meat without antibiotics and Chipotle has even gone as far as labeling ingredients that may contain genetically modified organisms on their website. However, Chipotle has struggled with sourcing enough ingredients for their over 900 locations to meet those claims, leaving customers paying premium price for standard ingredients.
Chipotle's marketing campaigns rely on stirring up emotion with imagery that paints a bleak picture of a futuristic food system that is factory-like and systemic problems with nefarious and imagined solutions. Chipotle wants to stand out from other fast food chains by convincing their customers that eating at Chipotle will help fight the good fight against the ‘bad guys’. With everything from scarecrows to serenades by Willie Nelson, Chipotle captures the attention, and emotions, of their audiences with plenty of fear and misinformation.
For a company with gross sales over $3.2 billion last year, Chipotle touts themselves as champions for the little guy in the food supply. Maybe that is what is ironic about their most recent marketing campaign titled "Farmed and Dangerous", which portrays the greed and aggressiveness of a dark and industrial food chain. The four-part series, due to premiere solely on Hulu starting today, which features "PetroPellet" a fictitious petroleum product resulting in exploding cows, reportedly cost Chipotle $1 million in production.
According to Chipotle's chief marketing and development officer, Mark Crumpacker, the series is intended to be a satirical comedy that points out agriculture's aggressiveness to earn a profit, no matter the cost to animal health or well-being. While their over the top characters and exploding cows may be humorous, the underlying message has farmers concerned.
If the advertisement is meant solely as comedy, why go to such lengths to portray the petroleum feed, PetroPellet, as an actual product, complete with website and promotional videos for a fictitious company, Animoil, which only mentions Chipotle after a visitor digs around the site for more information?
Farmers and ranchers are not happy with the continued attack from Chipotle. With such a production budget and a marketing team that knows how to sell to emotions of the consuming audience, Chipotle continues to win over fans with information and portrayals that are much less than accurate of our modern food growers. If Chipotle is so adamant about getting us to learn more about where our food comes from, why spend millions on animations and comedies? Why not talk to actual farmers and ranchers who are on the ground and know more about growing food that marketing executives?
The national entities who are supposed to represent American farmers and ranchers, who are a likely target with Farmed and Dangerous, have done a poor job of representation and amplifying farmers' perspectives. Farmers and Ranchers do not have the marketing budget like Chipotle's, but they are working to share their perspectives, address the misinformation and form dialogues with consumers in their communities and across social media.
I send out a challenge to Chipotle's marketing team. There is no need to hide behind a satirical comedy series or paid actors. Practice what you preach to your audience. Go, seek out the farmers and ranchers producing our food and I do not just mean those growing your "Responsibly Raised", organic and natural products.
Go talk with the farmers and ranchers that you are attacking with your ad campaigns, start a dialogue and let the conversation come from both sides of the plate in order to learn where our food comes from. I am more than happy to help you if you will just stop the attacks on those growing our food.
Got a question for Ryan or any of our other farmers? Please share it below and we'll do our best to have a great conversation.
The opinions expressed are solely those of Ryan Goodman.
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I often wonder how big the carbon footprint for chipotle is and how it contributes to sustainable farming. I recently had a burrito at chipotle and I wasn't that impressed with the food that I got. I've been traveling on the road today and so I stopped at Taco Bell and got a burrito there and I was fairly impressed with what I received. The value was good the food was good and they're not out there beaten-down Americans agriculture. It's amazing to me how a company like chipotle can just keep beating down American agriculture and we have to standby and watch
You say: "I send out a challenge to Chipotle's marketing team. There is no need to hide behind a satirical comedy series or paid actors. Practice what you preach to your audience. Go, seek out the farmers and ranchers producing our food and I do not just mean those growing your "Responsibly Raised", organic and natural products. . . Go talk with the farmers and ranchers that you are attacking with your ad campaigns, start a dialogue and let the conversation come from both sides of the plate in order to learn where our food comes from. I am more than happy to help you if you will just stop the attacks on those growing our food."
But the thing is-they did! And continue to do so! You even have a link to a website that lets you know where to find these conversations. Their mission states, "The Chipotle Cultivate Foundation is committed to creating a more sustainable and healthful food supply and to raising awareness concerning food issues. This is realized through the support of family farmers and their communities, educators and programs that teach younger generations about food matters, along with support for ranchers and farmers who are working to develop more sustainable practices."
One example of these conversations can be found here:http://www.chipotle.com/en-us/fwi/videos/videos.aspx. Click on the "Paul Willis" story to learn more about the very important relationships Chipotle has worked had to foster with farmers.
Chipotle is all about talking with farmers whom they agree with, but has turned down many offers and requests from farmers and ranchers who do not align with their ideals. It's incredibly difficult to know the story behind those they are painting as "doing wrong" if they do not want to have a dialogue with them. And Chipotle doesn't want to have a dialogue with other farmers. "We have to agree on certain principles before engaging in dialogue with others" - FWI Marketing Manager < That's NOT a way to seek dialogue or other points of view.
You can dialog all you want, and yes, dialog is useful. It does not change the fact that the last month or so of a factory farmed cow's life is that they get "food" which is extremely unhealthy for them - corn, soy, that sort of thing. Yes, it fattens them up, but they suffer for it. Also, at least in certain locales, factory farmed cattle are allowed 15% of a diet of old chewing gum (wrappers included) and other decidedly unsavory items. At any rate, dialog, but don't compromise on quality.
PS: I have never eaten at a Chipotle. We only got one in the area a couple months ago, and I haven't been inspired to go try it.
Chipotle is not targeting small to medium "ranchers and farmers" rather they are portraying the conglomerate meat packing industry. And Ryan I am sure with your experience that you are aware of how wretched and unhealthy conditions can be in these industrial food farms. I believe that thru mergers and acquisitions there are now less than half a dozen meat packaging companies that supply over 90% of our supermarkets and restaurants. These are the companies and their conditions that Chipotle is referencing in these ads
I think Chipotle is doing just fine. Farmers and ranchers using irresponsible methods to gain a little more profit are not who they need to talk to. They have nothing of interest to say. Growing organic, non-GMO crops is not hard. Yield is lower. So profit is slightly lower. Growing cattle on grass without srugs takes a little longer, but you don't end up with frankencows filled with antibotic-filled tissue.
The whole premise of this article is in fact to market industrial farmers and ranchers as good guys Chipotle would really like if they just talked to them. It is a puff piece to frame Chipotle as the bad guy. They aren't. They are doing a great job of taking a responsible corporate decision to not use inferior ingredients. They are marketing and promoting this position to bring in customers and differentiate themselves from the competition. It is not wrong to tout the benifits of your product. Good for them.
Reblogged this on Thought + Food and commented:
You may have seen Chipotle's "Farmed and Dangerous" campaign. It is supposed to be a satire but is basically an attack on those who grow our food. So for #Farming Friday here are thoughts on this from a farmer on this issue.
I don't like Chipotle anyway...they are high sodium, overly spicy, and unhealthy. One steak burrito has 1, 585 mg of sodium and 8 grams of saturated fat. What room do they have to talk about farming or healthy food production!
Chipotle isn't attacking farmers, they're attacking Industrial Agriculture. This dude is a farmer the same way the PR rep for the United Auto Workers is a mechanic. Industrial Agriculture uses feel-good stories about down-home ranchers and farmers to decry anyone who would oppose their massive industry that drives mechanization, processing, and lobbies hard for (and gets) government subsidies. This is the same industry that gave us "pink slime" beef – which is technically meat, but not the kind you'd want to eat. Chipotle is standing athwart the food chain and yelling STOP, and if that brings positive change to our food supply, then so be it.
You have my curiosity up; what is wrong with mechanization? Are you not posting this on a computer powered by electiricty. Do you not drive a car or ride public transportation?
Yes, but he's not eating his computer or the bus.
This is NOT a fight between farmers and Chipotle. It's consumers, Chipotle, and responsible farmers against the worse abominations of the ag industry. It's a fight between unhealthy, unsafe, inhumane factory farms, and the responsible farmers, businesses, and consumers and who reject those abusive practices.
Those farmers who defend animal cruelty, gestation crates, battery cages, rampant antibiotic abuse, slaughtering of downer cattle, ag gag laws, environmental destruction, and animal cruelty of all sorts are on the wrong side of this fight.
Big Ag can call people and organizations any names they please.Make untrue and half true statement.
But when someone speaks the dirty truth they are trying to hide then they get all upset.
Small farms and small farmers are the slat of the earth and hard working wonderful people.You cannot fool the county into believing that Corporate farms are these small hardworking people.
Bless the small farmer and their families and hopefully one day they will get thier rightful market back fro Big AG and Corporations.
Johndoop and Dianne Meyer,
Can either of you give me the definition of FACTORY farm, Corporate farm or Industrial AG? Did you know that most FAMILY farms are now LLC (Limited Liability Corporations). That makes family farms corporate farms. They have had to run their business like any other business is run and protect their own personal assets. I do not hear Big Ag (your term not mine) calling anyone names. However, I do see you throwing around FACTORY farm like it is a four letter word. It's really sad that you have swallowed the koolaid on farming and not did the research for yourself to find the truth. You talk about Big Ag not telling the dirty truth, but you believe a cartoon from Chipotle. BTW, 3.2 billion with a B qualifies in my book as Big Ag. Did you consider for one moment that Chipotle may be full of shit?
It amazes me how some of you expect farming to operate just as it did in 1950. How many other businesses including the one the two of you work for operates like it did in 1950. Surprise surprise, we have a WORLD of almost 7 Billion people to feed and 1950 doesn't work for anybody anymore including farming. Get real.
Well said, Mitch
Well said johndopp. BTW those who attack Chipotle for championing ethics are exposing themselves as the worst offenders too. The more they comment the better.
Haven't seen the ads, but I gotta say that the idea of an exploding cow does not strike me as "funny" - at all.
Typical Big Ag mouthpiece. Everyone is always picking on these hard working, salt of the Earth folks. Well guess what, the vail has been pulled back and the public realizes how bad and unhealthy our food really is because massive conglomorates are running everything and out for a profit no matter what they do to consumers, the environment or animals. Just like big tobacco 20 years ago, Big ag wants us to believe them. They care. P U. Keep going Chipotle.
If Big Agriculture wants to be taken seriously by the growing section of citizens that actually care about what they put in their bodies, then they need to get off the government teet. Expire corn and soy subsidies and apply them to things that are actually good for you like broccoli and peppers. I can't, for the life of me, figure out why we are willing to pay billions upon billions to corporate farms, so they can feed us tons of processed corn, which we then have to pay for in the form of chronic illness and obesity. Come out from the shadow, and be transparent about what you grow. It's pretty simple.
I think a lot of people are so misled about why corporate farms have hurt America. The food is no more harmful or less than 30 years ago. The BIG difference is that there is no such thing as a small farmer anymore. You can't have 30 head of cattle and 300 acres of land. It's just not possible, unless you are doing it as a hobby, or you inherited a very large sum of money. I grew up in the Midwest and watched it with my own eyes. It's a shame. Corporations now own most of the farmground surrounding the area I grew up in. 3000 acres is now a small farm. 300 head of cattle is now a small farm.
Steroids and growth supplements were in great supply in the early 80's. Even small farmers had access to them. Regulation by the FDA stopped the use of a lot of them, whether it was a small farm or big one.
The biggest harm corporate farming has done to America is that it has eliminated the small farmer.
Actually, if you take a look at the 2007 US Ag census data (most recent available until 2013 numbers are released), you'll find that 89% (728,992) of cattle operations have an inventory of less than 100 head, making up 40% (29,858,211) of the US cattle inventory. The average inventory for US cattle operations is just short of 91 head. So yes, there are still a lot of very small cattle producers across the country.
Whoops, that should say until the *2012 Ag Census numbers are released. Which should be this month.
Check a local plat book; it is a matter of public record who owns farmland. When I look at mine, for my county I don't see any corporate owners of farmland, only private individuals. There are still small farmers; I farm 160 acres and have several neighbors who do so as well. I have neighbors and friends who still farm on a smaller scale and are making it. Two that come to mind are two friends of mine who dairy farm and operate about 400 acres. We do have some large operations in our neighborhood as well; mostly because the economic opportunities for young people were better in other industries so they left the farm and the farms were rented out to neighbors when the parents retired. Even the largest operations, and some are in the 6000 to 7000 acre range are family owned and operated. Show me a business that hasn't expanded over the years. We used to have small stores of all types in our local towns; they have been largely replaced by WalMart. Used to have guys making a living owning and operating a truck; now we have JB Hunt and CRST, etc. I work off the farm in the electrical power generation industry. Never have I heard a business plan that states; our long term plan is to reduce our size and market share. This phenomenon seems to be more a product of human nature than anything. Want to change it? Support small businesses, but be ready to pay more.
I'm going to respectfully disagree with both of you. It does no good to raise something people won't buy. We raise (among the choices) heirloom peppers, birds with access to outdoors, lean rabbit and herbs. All things people want,but too often do not put money towards. I think it IS possible to make a living on smaller acreages *if* it's near a market to do so and effort is put into it. It is,however, a widely different mindset than taking a load of cattle to the sale barn. We market *everything*. The eggs, the meat, the feathers; fiber from the rabbits as well as meat and compost or manure. This recently cut the fertilizer costs of an organic blackberry place and brought some income for us – win win. That said, consumers have got to meet us half way. If we absorb all the risk the price will be higher. Farm shares – well it's in the end pretty competitive with the grocery store. Those heritage chickens (outdoor raised once feathered) are $10, heirloom peppers 2/$1; rabbits dressed out $20 (3-5 pounds).Last year we tried getting sign ups for beef and pork – was told it was too high but it'd be a BARGAIN right now. It's all good to demand healthy food but if people are buying at Taco Bell, there's no accounting for food choices that aren't us. It *can* be done and we're working on proving it.
It's not the farms that process the corn. I commend your stance, but it's targeted at the wrong sector. You can't ask someone in Iowa to grow peppers. They won't survive. Corn and soybeans are staples in almost every country's diets. We probably export more corn and soybeans than we consume. We import rice because we can't cultivate it.
Just as you can't grow tobacco in Illinois, the yield of corn in North and South Carolina pales in comparison because of the weather and the soil.
The processing of the food, the additives, etc., are regulated by our government who is paid by these big corporations' lobbyists.
It's the same as the big grocery chains. Bob's Corner Market is no longer existent. Tax bases excuse big corporations while penalize smaller competitors.
To your point, the quality of beef or corn or wheat is better today than it was 30 years ago. However, the processing is a lot worse. The big farms don't process the commodity, the big processors do. Instead of going to Bob's Corner Market who got their produce and meats directly from the farmers, you go to WalMart or the big Grocery chain. They bought their product from these huge processing plants instead. We as a society made the change a long time ago.
The only way to remotely reverse this trend is to start supporting "Bob's Corner Market" and paying higher prices. That's a tough challenge in today's times. One telling sign is taking a look at the Organic section in your "Super"market. Prices are generally 25-30% higher for "organic" foods. That's on top of the 50% increase in a pound of "regular" bacon in the last year.
Rice is grown in the U.S. It takes a wet area to grow it, but the U.S. does. When I grew up in SE Houston, everything south of us to Texas City was oil fields, cattle pastures, and rice fields. A lot of that land has been developed now, but I recently circled over land SW of Houston in a plane and the rice fields are still there.
According to the USA Rice Federation website (http://www.usarice.com/doclib/188/219/3674.PDF), "The U.S. rice industry produces more than 19 billion pounds of rice on more than 2 million acres each year, approximately 50 percent of which supplies the domestic market. Although the United States produces less than two percent of the world’s rice, it ranks among the top five rice-exporting nations." The top producing states are Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas..
Hi There BigAgraLOL; I'd like to challenge you to look openly at a different viewpoint. In the US right now we are very concerned about energy independence; and subsidize green energy and other sorts of activities in order to be more energy independent. I think we can all agree that this is a good thing for the nation as a whole. Now consider that some nations struggle with food independence and have to rely on imports. A far more grave circumstance I think we can agree. Another point I think we can agree on is that it is better to have a surplus than be deficient in food supplies; the alternative is famine which I think we can agree is bad. So if it is in the countries best interest to have a slight surplus, it is best to encourage farmers to keep production at a level which guarantees this. Unfortunately we can't predict from year to year what the growing conditions will be; so we have to always be on the side of overproduction. Agricultural commodities are unique in that they are priced on a commodity market which is controlled by supply and demand. An individual farmer in this system cannot control the price he receives, he gets to accept what the market is offering. The only way an individual farmer can increase income then is to increase his land base or improve yields. Opportunities for increasing your land base are limited; which tends to drive land prices and rental land prices up. So increasing yields is the only viable alternative. But this is a double edged sword so to speak because increasing production too much on a national level decreases prices. As an example as a nation we raised about 10.8 billion bushels last year (decreased due to the drought) and about 13.9 billion bushels this year; roughly a 30 percent difference. Last year I sold corn for over 7.50 a bushel; this year I am struggling to get 4.00; nearly cutting my gross income in half. Show me another business where this happens at this level on a basis this regular. And consider that this is our food supply we are discussing. Subsidies to grain farmers are price supports, and for the record have been eliminated in the new farm bill, and even if they were still in effect wouldn't have kicked in until a far lower price than 4.00. So think about it; if surplus gets to where the farmer cannot make it; what happens to our farming infrastructure? Suddenly you have allowed the infrastructure which is supplying your most needed product to deteriorate to where it cannot function and feed the country anymore. A pretty grave situation no? Subsidies are the way that the government keeps the infrastructure intact that provides your food supply. And it does it really fairly cheaply; in the highest years the amount per person was around fifty dollars. Your tax dollars spent on defense are in the neighborhood of 3000 dollars per person. No farmer likes or wants to be dependent on subsidies; one for the simple reason that when price supports kick in, it means prices are so low that they are barely getting by. I for one would much rather you pay more at the supermarket and I get a more profitable price up front; but that isn't how it is set up. Now I understand you think we should subsidize things like broccoli; but look at the amount of broccoli consume and the amount of meat, milk, grain, etc that we consume. The system is set up to support the way America eats right now. Would you prefer we raise a gigantic pile of broccoli that is probably 100-200 times what we consume now and tell everyone; well there it is, you are all going to have to eat broccoli now? I think if you really think about this; and look at things realistically, you'll agree that this probably isn't the best solution. Get the whole country to go vegan; and maybe your solution is more plausible.
Big AgraLOL, your name tells the truth. You are pushing a political agenda. Use your name and tell the truth about WHY you are commenting on this subject. You want everyone to be a vegan. All farmers should grow peppers....what a joke. Obviously you know nothing about farming. Let's feed the whole world almost 7 billion people peppers.
Corn is making people fat......really. Wouldn't have anything to do with the 3 Big Macs and 60 ounces of coke you had today, would it?
Big Ag and all their greed is just forcing America to eat this stuff. Amazing how Americans spend the least amount of their pay check on food then anyone in the world. About 7% of income is what the average American family spends on food.
BTW, what do you do for a living...I have lots of ideas on how you can run your business.
Hey Mitch, if you put that coke and burger in a mass spectrometre you will see that they are really mostly corn.
The quality of the food at Chipotle varies from location to location. Loved it at some places, was hugely disappointed at others. The calorie count is so high that I tend the share a burrito, and still take in more than I would by eating a Big Mac. As for the price; it`s still less expensive than Five Guys.
Chipotle = a glorified Taco Bell, and the meat portions are small.
"If the advertisement is meant solely as comedy, why go to such lengths to portray the petroleum feed, PetroPellet, as an actual product, complete with website and promotional videos for a fictitious company, Animoil, which only mentions Chipotle after a visitor digs around the site for more information?"
Pretty much the entire article is about why Chipotle won't actually depict real farmers and real products. Anyone with an IQ over 50 would know the answer to this and I bet the author is being paid by those farmers for one simple reason...lawsuits. Had Chipotle used real depictions and products, they would be sued for decades over it. That's what the farmers want because they know their food is dung...so instead of raising better food they try to take the easy way out and find someone to sue.
Pretty much common sense there.
"Chipotle continues to win over fans with information and portrayals that are much less than accurate of our modern food growers. "
Yeah. It's called "satire", nimrod. That's what it does – exaggerates. To make a point.
Want to help agribusiness shed its mantle of evil? Tell it to open its doors and let the public see how it operates, instead of lobbying for legislation making its feedlots and factories off limits due to "homeland security concerns", and hiding behind other veils of obscurity.
Farmers and ranchers are trying to open their gates and doors to answer questions, but it definitely helps if both sides can approach the conversation looking for engagement and discussion rather than defense or accusations. http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2012/09/13/farmers-arent-evil-now-can-we-have-a-civil-conversation/
Feedlots and farm are not off limits to the general public. If you would like a tour, contact the feedlot or farm. State your business, as you would to visit any business. You can even contact Ryan, I am certain that he can help you gain access to any Feedlot or farm.
As someone who works for Chipotle I have to say that all of this is good. I hope that they will listen to the call of your article and go do this. The culture of Chipotle is great but they need to understand how unsustainable the version of "Farming" they believe in is. Unless you cater to the pompous (like they do) this is an insane form of agriculture in our times, the world needs mass agriculture and GMO to help it's population survive.
On another note, I would like to make the point that this has been a slap in the face to all of the employees with a brain. Chipotle spent 1 million to attack the agriculture industry for not doing things the way Chipotle does, but they keep the majority of their workers, the one busting their humps to make your burrito everyday, at just above minimum wage. It's a slap in the face to see your company put more value in the marketing then the people. We start at .75 cents above minimum wage so if you want to figure that out for where you live just remember this, McDonalds starts at 10.00 Hr. We are below that where I work by a whole 1.25. Food with integrity? How about a company with integrity.
Chipolte sounds very much like Tesco, the company that used to own Fresh & Easy Markets on the west coast!
Shane, you make burritos. If you want to make more money, do the work required to get the skills that can allow you to accomplish more than simply scooping rice on to a tortilla. Those of us who want a good living actually go out and get a degree.
The irony of that is I am trained as a paralegal and am still making my way through school. I more then understand that these jobs are not supposed to carry someone and get them out of poverty but you missed the point that a company would rather spend 1 Million on a comedy series then on it's own employees when other fast food chains hold their standards higher for employees. Love horticulture but damn the human? Brilliant theory if I do say so.
But do me a favor, next time you come through a chipotle let me know who you are and I will make sure to show you all the work it took just to make that rice to scoop onto your burrito and I will make sure something "special" is given to you.
LMFAO, looks like a struck a nerve with you, huh. Poor baby.
I'm actually not a fan of theirs...I've always liked Qdoba more and I hear Baja Fresh is better too!
Being the big guy means being a bully no one likes! On a nutritional level, have you checked their calorie count? You'll have a big a** in no time!
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