Chipotle Grill has released a new 3 minute video and accompanying iOS game that Gawker and many other media critics called “amazing.” It also riled a number of farmers for its simplistic treatment of farmers and farming.
In the video, a scarecrow employed by Crow Foods, Inc looks behind panels to find chickens being pumped full of stuff (hormones?) from syringes, and cows kept in crates in the dark. Leaving work in disgust, he passes burnt out landscapes presumably created by “factory farming,” and then when he reaches his small home farm, he picks a Chipotle-looking red pepper and some other vegetables, trucks them back to the city and cooks them up to sell as burritos. Meanwhile, Fiona Apple is singing a mournful version of “Pure Imagination,” from the 1971 Willy Wonka movie (the good version).
The video implies that the scarecrow and thus Chipotle are making more “natural,” less manufactured food on a somehow higher ethical plane than all those other fast food companies who must not be. The implied buzzword must somehow be “sustainable.”
Despite the high moral tone and gorgeous graphics and sound, farming organizations and individual comments have taken some offense:
I don't see the point of this ad. It turns me off on the Chipotle brand. The depiction of the food industry is so out of line with reality. Having a game that youth will play associated with it is even more deplorable. There are all ready too many misinformed consumers this will not help. It is pretty bad when you have to cut down an industry with lies to sell your product.
And the Center for Consumer Freedom says:
Back to the meat of the matter (forgive the pun). Chipotle takes issue with modern livestock farms and the use of antibiotics, hormones and animal housing. Relying on a cartoon underscores, however, that this is a marketing strategy, not a means to present a realistic picture of agriculture. Take the use of antibiotics. Chipotle says it won’t buy from farms that use antibiotics to raise chicken. So what’s a farmer to do if one of his birds gets sick? Perhaps it’s an apt time to point out that Chipotle notes in an annual report, “Herd losses can also be greater when animals are not treated with antibiotics and hormones.”
Are you simulating farmers pumping hormones into their chicken so they grow big and fat? Let’s talk about that for a second; hormones are ILLEGAL, so since they are illegal, they are NOT used in poultry production.
Another farmer pointed out that the burned out landscapes are more likely to result from poorly managed organic farms than from conventional farms, because it is so hard to bring in enough manure to keep the soil refreshed.
And others noted that the small farm the scarecrow runs at home is unlikely to be able to feed humanity.
Chipotle has taken these high-minded but not entirely accurate positions before, because they do get a lot of attention. In 2012, they had another elegant video attacked “factory farming,” featuring cylindrical pigs, rectangular cows and Willie Nelson.
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be defined as organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally.
But Chipotle conveniently neglects to mention that on the same page of the WHO statement you will find:
GM foods currently available on the international market have passed risk assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.
This does tend to suggest some hypocrisy on Chipotle’s part.