Good For You, Chipotle

Chipotle Mexican Grill (an American-based restaurant) has recently released a web series called “Farmed and Dangerous” that’s had the agriculture community in an uproar over the past few weeks. If you want to check it out, it’s online at their site. Below is their trailer, the one that’s been circulating recently:

To anyone involved in agriculture, I can see how this video would be upsetting. Even just from watching the trailer, it seems as if large-scale beef farmers are the villains in food production systems. The main gist of the trailer and first episode in the series is “if we can feed the most amount of people for the lowest cost, who cares how we do it?” Which makes farmers seem like greedy businessmen who put no thought into their animal productions. The “bad farmer” is feeding his cows petroleum pellets as a food source, which as far I can tell, doesn’t ever happen. The only connection between cattle and petroleum is external parasite control, where a petroleum-based rub is applied to the skin (MSU). However, to a complete outsider, feeding cows petroleum pellets may seem like a real thing and definitely casts farmers under a bad light.

The main push behind this is that Chipotle has taken a “sustainable” approach to its food production. Their aim is to use 100% USDA organic animal products in their meals – this includes beef, dairy, pork and poultry products. They’re trying to eliminate products from animals given hormones (eg. rBGH given to dairy cattle to increase milk production). Note: Canadian dairy producers are not allowed to use growth hormones in their productions, and Canadian cattle producers may only use hormones that aid cattle in using feed efficiently (Dairy Farmers of Canada, Canadian Beef). Though Chipotle is upsetting farmers and making them seem like villains who blow up their stock, here’s the thing:

It’s a good idea.

Think about it: If you have no knowledge at all about agriculture and where your food comes from, especially the food used in restaurants, then hearing that all of a sudden your food is from sustainable sources is great news! It doesn’t matter if it’s always been sustainable, or that the farmers who used to supply Chipotle with their products are still employing good practices – when 98% of the American and Canadian populations aren’t from a farm (AFBF, FFC), the average consumer doesn’t know firsthand where their food comes from. To them, Chipotle is doing the right thing.

Checking out Chipotle’s website, namely their Food With Integrity page, users can explore more about the company’s food initiatives and learn about sustainability, organic agriculture, and a little bit of family farming. If you know little to nothing about agriculture, the site gives you just enough information to want to learn more. Isn’t that what we want? For people to learn about where their food is coming from? Chipotle is engaging consumers and teaching them about agriculture. Sure, it may not be the ideal way to do it, but at least the public is learning more about something they may not know anything about. And that’s where it all starts – education.

So good for you, Chipotle. Sure, your tactics may be a little backwards, but you’re getting the population interested in where their food comes from.

Keep Calm and Farm On,

Emma — The Suburban Aggie

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