Chipotle Video Sets up a Very Ugly Sequel

Rob Robertson

By Rob Robertson, Nebraska Farm Bureau chief administrator

The recent release of a video by the Chipotle restaurant chain that attempts to advance the agenda against modern agriculture practices should have a sequel to give its audience the real picture.

The YouTube video attempts to manipulate viewers with a romanticized view of the benefits of small, sustainable, organic farms that don’t use buildings and confined housing to raise and protect farm animals. In an animated, graphically designed video with Willie Nelson singing “The Scientist” in the background,  viewers are hypnotized into the beauties of yesteryear farms by moving the theme from small, open pen farms with red barns to confined “factory farm” operations back to the wonders of the small farm.

A happy ending to this clip does not give the full story of how sad the sequel would be. The story would be much worse to even those who condemn commercial agriculture and the evils of confinement practices for raising farm animals. Having an agenda and arguing against today’s modern farm practices is a prescription for worldwide hunger.

What the activists who despise factory farms (their term) don’t know or fail to acknowledge is that modern day farm and ranch family operations are being asked to feed a world that will have 2 billion more people in the year 2040,  up from the current total of about 7 billion.

I am confident our farmers and ranchers can do this because of more technology, more innovation and more will power to produce more food with fewer resources. This is what modern agriculture is already doing today. 

I could get into all the science and facts on the reasons why confined housing units have been a proven and humane practice in animal agriculture. But anti-ag activist won’t listen to mainstream agriculture when we explain that these barns improve welfare by protecting animals from predators, disease, bad weather, harmful birthing situations, and sometimes, each other.

So that’s why I think a sequel to the Chipotle video ought to be produced to show the real story with the real possible results of the anti-modern day agriculture agenda. It would be both a sad and horrifying picture of world famine that is not contained to places in Africa where it is most prevalent today. World hunger, lengthy food lines, high food prices and food safety issues would run amok throughout the world if the organic, small, sustainable and local food crowd is successful in implementing its agenda for everyone.

The choice is about feeding the world or accepting hunger — someone else’s — to maintain a certain majestically positive feeling about how farms used to be.

28 responses to “Chipotle Video Sets up a Very Ugly Sequel

  1. I like to ask consumers what is their idea of yesteryear, and when was the first practice of agriculture improved upon. They soon realize how far back in time that was and the improvements made up to the point in time they are dreaming of. It takes a small conversation to gain perspective.

  2. As a small producer I had but one main question, which they refuse to answer. They’re very careful to say they use these “better” “natural” meats “WHEN AVAILABLE” (emphasis). What happens when they’re not available? Because statistically, according to what is produced, they can’t provide enough pork even if they got all of that which is produced. So what happens when it isn’t available? Do they take it off the menu? Do they tell people “Well we ran out of the natural pork so we bought regular pork for today”? I mean if it’s about integrity and transparency it should be clear that not 100% of the meats are produced how they represent here. And when it comes out then somehow it will be greedy farmers and small producers that charge more for a product they demanded!

    • Straight from Chipotle’s website: “We call this style of ranching naturally raised, and since 2001, we have sourced 100% of our pork from producers who follow these guidelines.”

      So, in regards to pork, the number is indeed 100%.

      • Now why would they then tell their investors that they use “naturally raised” “whenever possible”? If they are sourcing 100% from producers why would they tell others that it isn’t? From 2010 annual report they said they “face challenges associated with pursuing Food With Integrity. For example, current economic conditions have led to natural chicken and steak supply shortages. It can take longer to identify and secure relationships with suppliers meeting our criteria, and there are higher costs and other risks associated with purchasing naturally raised or sustainably grown ingredients. The growing time for naturally raised meat and sustainably grown vegetables can be longer. Herd losses can also be greater when animals are not treated with antibiotics and hormones and field losses can be higher for organically grown produce.” They cite a lack of large suppliers as an issue, because they won’t get the price they need from small suppliers or the consistent coast to coast quality.

      • SlowMoneyFarm,

        You’re still missing the point of what I’m saying. They source their pork 100% from suppliers who meet their criteria. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT OF THE PORK. It’s the other meats, beef and chicken, that they source “whenever possible.” I was talking about the pork because you mentioned in the above post “Well we ran out of the natural pork so we bought regular pork for today.”

  3. Pingback: I wont Ever Eat Chipotle with Willie..or Anyone for That Fact…Again « Under the Crown of Agriculture

  4. What most people SAY that they want is NOT what they PROVE they want with their food purchases. If it were, than Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s would put WalMart and Sam’s Food Centers out of business, and Chipotle’s would be on every corner instead of McDonald’s and Burger King. No mother with three kids is going to pay $50 to feed them all organic burgers every week, as long as there’s a dollar menu at a drive-thru. If someone did make a response to the video, it ought to show the realities of finding free-range chickens slaughtered by local wildlife, cattle being attacked by mountain lions and coyotes, or a weeping farmer out in the middle of a field covered in grasshoppers…. and then the cost of feeding a family “all organic” for every meal, with the “all natural” results of shortages raising the costs… JMHO.

  5. So what you are saying is that American farmers are being asked to feed the world? That is an unrealistic expectation…. especially if Americans continue to consume at our current rate. If we are to be globally minded, we should be sending farmers and equipment to the counties most in need to teach locals how to grow their own food. Let’s teach them to fish rather than giving them one. Then we can focus on quality meals instead of quantity. Putting the weight of world hunger squarely on our farmers shoulders is unfair to them. We should all carry that load.

  6. The idea that it is “cheaper” to eat at McDonalds dollar menu is pretty false. Start factoring the costs of heart disease, diabetes, etc and you will realize that eating at McDonalds is NOT cheap. You can pay for healthy food or pay Doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceuticals. Your choice. We currently have a health crisis in the US. How much has the industrialization of farming contributed to that? What can we do to help make our country healthy again?

  7. Pingback: Farm Bureau Hates on Chipotle, Organics | Fair Food Fight

  8. Aren’t U.S. family farmers and ranchers only asked to feed Americans? There’s only 311 million of us. I know we export beef and other animal products, but are we really exporting them to the kind of people that will comprise the extra 2 billion people that are projected for the planet. As I understand it, those people will primarily be in developing countries and my guess is they can’t afford the prices American corporations want to charge. I’d really love to hear how U.S. farmers and ranchers are going to feed 2 billion people in developing countries, because that’s the argument that many in the industry use, including yourself…”we need to feed the world.”

    • Most farmers and ranchers we’ve met feel a deep moral calling to provide food for the hungry. Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson put it this way in a recent column: “As a farmer, my calling is to grow food. As a Christian, I want all the world to be fed.” As we follow the consumer research, we’ve noted that American consumers don’t generally place a high priority on feeding people in other countries. Farmers want to be sure there is enough food to feed the expanding global population. As you say, people in developing countries are unlikely to be able to purchase food at U.S. prices, but there is much demand for food for aid programs, such as the Food for Peace program. Food exports are an opportunity for commerce, yes, but they are also important to U.S. international policy.

      Farmers and ranchers are some of the most generous people you will meet. Here in Nebraska, Farm Bureau members organize food drives for their local food banks and pantries in June. Last year, nationwise, Farm Burau members donated $556,273 and more than 10 million pounds of food to assist hungry Americans as part of Farm Bureau’s “Harvest for All” program through Feeding America. That translates to nearly 13 million meals.

      • Thanks for your response.

        I agree that most farmers and ranchers feel a moral calling to provide food for the hungry. I am a Christian too and I’d love nothing more than to see a world where every man, woman and child is fed. I think that’s a great motivator. But I hesitate when I hear people using the “feed the world” phrase to defend the food production model that we currently have in the U.S. without mention of its shortcomings.

        I hadn’t considered the fact that charitable organizations or governments might be the purchasers of the food, but I have no idea how much they would be purchasing, I’m not sure where to find that data.

        And congratulations on the Harvest for All program. Sounds like a winner.

      • We should keep in mind that Chipotle Mexican Grill has seven locations in Nebraska. Two in Lincoln, four in Omaha, & one in Bellevue. I’ve been direct marketing my pork to restaurants in Nebraska for three years. One thing I’ve learned is how hard the work is. The kitchen staff work long hours, evenings, & holidays.

      • Chipotle Mexican Grill founder & CEO Steve Ells is first & foremost a professional chef. The goal of any chef is to create new, exciting, & delicious food for their customers. He’s accomplished this in the ultra competitive world of fast food. They have a business model that seeks out & serves higher quality products compared to their competition. A true American success story.

    • Great comments & questions ethicalplate! Companies like Chipotle Mexican Grill are creating opportunity for farmers. There are hog farmers in Nebraska that produce pork for Niman Ranch. Chipotle is a large & very reliable customer for Niman Ranch.

  9. What I would love to hear is how you came by the twisted logic that it was “kinder” to the animals to keep them inside? By your definition then, we should also grow little tiny cages like the factory farms (which I have had the misfortune to visit) use for their chickens and sows, in which to keep our children, as this will be FAR more clean and germ free. As a mother and Nurse Practitioner, I can assure you that one of the filthiest places ON THIS EARTH is a kindergarten class room. So it would definitely be more humane to raise our children inside, away from all sunlight, fresh air, crammed into tiny cages that they can’t stand up in, with their own excrement, and the excrement of the other children constantly falling on top of them… THAT SOUNDS like a GREAT PLAN! Let’s put it before congress and see if we can decrease the number of childhood immunizations we have to administer this way! It could save the country BILLIONS of dollars a YEAR!

    • Sheree,

      Farmers raise food animals inside to protect them from weather extremes, disease, predators and each other. Buildings are climate-controlled and farmers follow strict protocals for cleanliness. Many farmers produce specific-pathogen-free animals and to enter an SPF facility, you would have to shower in/out and gown up so you don’t bring harm to the animals. Animals are also protected from predators such as coyotes when they are housed indoors. They also can be monitored more closely so they do not harm each other, causing health impacts that need treatment. I think comparing how we care for children and for food animals is an apples/oranges thing.

      • Apples and Oranges are both fruits. What you are refusing to acknowledge is that the animals are not “Fruits”. They are living, Feeling creatures who would not choose to be tightly confined, any more than children would. You realize that an animals reproductive organs work in the same way that a man’s does. You admit that an animals ears and eyes would in much the same way (maybe even better in many cases) as a man’s. An animal must eat to maintain nutrition, he fears pain..yet somehow, you think the ONLY thing on this creature that DOES NOT WORK is his brain? Just because he cannot speak as you do? Very arrogant. I think the RAGING coyote problem that you are describing is SLIGHTLY overstated..Don’t you? And I am NO dummy. I know the research. I have had a personal talk with my Lyman. I am aware of the fact that you still pump the INSIDE animals FULL of antibiotics to prevent the diseases that they keep getting INSIDE their TEENY TINY cages. So let’s get real. YOu aren’t fooling anybody. I am not a 1950’s housewife before you delete me. 🙂

    • Oops..Mr Lyman..Of Mad Cowboy fame He owned a HUGE cattle ranch and defected to the dark side.. was sued along with Oprah

    • Ok Then..I Sure can start posting videos for you of inside factory farms and their “better for the animals, more humane” according to you, conditions..whenever you are ready..There is a reason that the labels of “organic meats” read “antibiotic free” It isn’t because all the other types are antibiotic free as well..That would be redundant and a waste of ink. Let me kow when you want those video links.

      • I live in rural Virginia. I grew up in West Virginia. Yes. I lived 15 miles from a HUGE (more than 10,000 acre dairy farm in Virginia, until recently..That sold VEAL..Stop for a second. take yourself out of what you do for a living each and every day. Be a human for a minute..not a farmer. Now..Think of any mother..all mammals are given the maternity drive to protect their young. Now imagine that your wife carried this baby, knew it was hers..I won’t say “loved” because I am sure that in your world, a cow in incapable of love..but she knew she was with child..because mammals know. Then her baby comes. She would protect it with her life. She nurses it, watches it. But on the first few days of life, someone comes and steals her baby. Can you hear her screams and cries? Have you ever heard a cow scream when they steal her baby? Well i have..It goes on for days..even weeks. Now imagine that tiny, baby boy, locked in a little crate, never to see the light of day, never to run, never to exercise his little legs..All so somebody can put something in their mouth chew 3-6 times and swallow.

        Yep..I have known them..My daughter has a friend whose family owns that farm. They are Mennonite. She is not welcome in my house. I guess you still think I am that uneducated 1950’s housewife.

  10. Pingback: Why Chipotle’s “Back to the Start” worries me | ASAS Graduate BULLetin

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