Chipotle. Best known for large, silver bundles of goodness and Burrito Bols.
Factory farms. Best known for pollution, animal and environmental degradation and having lots of money.
Chipotle, meet factory farms. Last Sunday during the Grammys, Chipotle aired a groundbreaking commercial discussing the very issues highlighted above related to factory farming. But they didn’t do it the fire and brimstone way. Chipotle’s strategy involved cute animation and Willie Nelson.
In a two-minute ad titled “Back to the Start,” Chipotle presented animations of animals stuffed into overcrowded buildings, fed antibiotics (in thought bubbles!), being processed, emitting polluted waste and shipped off in a semi.
Then, a farmer gains a conscience and allows his animals to roam free. Back to the start of the video, Chipotle’s first national advertisement ever, happy farmers send their happy meat products away in Chipotle trucks. And all is well.
I guess a delicious burrito maker can also get involved in the sustainable food movement. Chipotle’s Cultivate Foundation is “dedicated to helping support sustainable agriculture, family farming, and culinary education,” which is necessary because “more than 97 percent of U.S. pork comes from confinement operations.” Chipotle claims to be in the other 3 percent, according to their website.
“Delicious, affordable food can be produced without exploiting the farmers, the animals or the environment,” declared Chipotle chairman Steve Ells to Fox News. “Chipotle has proven this to be true, but Chipotle is only one small part of the solution. Our goal now should be to have all food produced as sustainably as possible.”
EcoSalon provides a closer look at the Chipotle campaign, claiming the popular “sustainable” food chain is “certainly not perfect,” and citing the unhealthy portion sizes, and minimal improvement to workers’ rights. Those involved with sustainable food know all too well there are endless factors involved with getting food right, like environmental, labor, animal, and health concerns all fighting for space.
“Chipotle’s Food With Integrity commitment encompasses the use of naturally raised meat, organic produce, and dairy without added hormones, with an emphasis on local sourcing,” writes EcoSalon, though most patrons are unaware of this program.
Here’s a quick rundown of EcoSalon’s Good, Bad and…Questionable.
- The chain serves “naturally raised” meat.
- 40 percent of Chipotle’s beans are organic
- None of the restaurants have microwaves, freezers or can-openers
- The chain has experienced controversy surrounding fair wages for tomato pickers
- Chipotle still has not signed on to the Campaign for Fair Food, brought forth by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers
- The brand still lands on both best and worst food lists
- Chipotle lists nutritional facts by ingredient…which shields consumers from full calorie counts (which can be in the thousands per burrito)
- Portion sizes still outweigh (see what I did there?) the daily requirements in many cases
Regardless of these complaints, a national advertisement highlighting factory farm horrors in front of the “Grammy” crowd ain’t a bad thing. In fact, it just might be the stepping stone many Americans need to realize the fundamental problems associated with our food system.Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons, SupremeCrete