First Panera… now Chipotle.
First off, hats off to the animators at Moonbot studios – the “brilliant” minds behind Chipotle’s new animated short "Scarecrow". Way to beautifully display a lot of misinformation.
I will be honest and say that I’m livid right now. So I’ll do my best to keep my temper.
For those of you that haven’t seen it, the Scarecrow animation depicts a cute little burlap stuffed scarecrow on his way to work in the big city. Apparently he works for Crow Foods – a “factory farming” operation- consisting of a big, smoke belching factory complete with assembly lines and time cards. He punches in and punches out, indicating he might be looking for something more in life. He goes through his day noticing the atrocities of Crow Foods – injecting chickens with apparent growth hormones and collecting milk from forlorn looking cows that are completely enclosed in a box. He sees the assembly line slapping labels on unidentifiable chunks of “meat” that say “100% Beef-Ish”. He’s appropriately horrified when he sees people eating it. On his way home from work he sees a billboard being erected for Crow Foods, proclaiming that they are “feeding the world.” He approaches his own home garden and sees a seed of hope – a bright red pepper. He then packs up his “home grown produce” and takes it town for people to eat instead of the “beef-ish” fast food that shoots out of the factory.
The imagery and subtle similes within the short were well-done, I’ll add that. The pepper (part of Chipotle’s logo) and the angry mechanical crow did a lot for the piece.
But here’s my thing – I am an agriculturalist. I’ve had experiences in virtually every section of Production Ag; grain farming in the Texas Panhandle, multiple feedlots, various cow/calf and seedstock operations, meat packing, and animal research. What I want to point out is that all of these people, all of these sections that I’ve had contact with, well, they’re the scarecrow.
We, the inhabitants of the Beef Epicenter of the United States, are not Crow Foods. We are the scarecrow. We, the hardworking, 80-hour-week farmers of the Corn Belt are not Crow Foods. We are the scarecrow.
The tail-busting Dairy Farmers of the Midwest are not animal abusers that stuff their cows in a box and milk them mercilessly. They take great pride in caring for their animals. Here’s the thing; cows produce milk, and they’re actually in pain if they don’t get milked. They are the scarecrow.
My dad has spent hours, cold long hours on the floor of a calving shed, helping a young mother cow bring her first calf into the world. He’s gotten up hours before dawn to clean 3 feet of snow out of the alleys of the feedlots so that the cattle can be fed on time. He’s slaved away breaking ice on a tank and putting in fence so that the cattle stay happy and safe. He’s the scarecrow.
So here’s my beef, Chipotle (and I promise it’s 100% Beef). If you really want to support sustainable Ag (and we’d all appreciate that, that’s for sure!) then do that. Don’t make up scary mechanical crows and fraudulent care procedures just to convince people to eat your food. Conventional Agriculture has nothing to do with factories.
Agriculture IS sustainable. If it wasn’t, then you wouldn’t be able to eat. If you want to serve your customers organic food, then do that. But don’t cut down conventional agriculture in order to market it. Don’t try to pretend that we pump our animals full of unsafe steroids and that our main concern is the almighty dollar. Our animals and our fields are our livelihood and their health and happiness is our main concern, never doubt that.
Farming isn’t easy – agriculture isn’t easy. It takes work, it takes passion. If you need a reminder of that, please watch Dodge’s "God Made a Farmer" commercial. Paul Harvey knows what he’s talking about.
So yeah, we are the scarecrow. But that scarecrow can’t feed the world out of his little garden. I doubt that the CEO of your company wants to take time out of his/her day and attend to their little organic garden on the roof of their high-rise apartment and get their manicured hands dirty when they probably paid a fortune for the education that got them the job as your CEO, i.e. so that they could feed their families. No, its all different types of people that make the world go ‘round, and we’re the type of people that don’t mind getting their hands dirty. We’re the ones that break our backs to make sure that our consumers are indeed getting the best of our best. So please consider that next time you try to market your products with scare tactics.