There was no denying that Sunday night, most of America spent the evening watching the Grammys. In fact, the 2012 Grammys went down as the most watched since 1984. But I am not writing to hail the wonder that is Adele or to give a tribute to the late Whitney Houston. No, I am writing in response to Chipotle’s new marketing campaign video, Back to the Start, shown during the Grammys. If you happened to miss it, here it is:

A few months back this video was actually released via the Chipotle website and Facebook, but thanks to it’s showing during the Grammys, Chipotle’s marketing campaign was really brought to the forefront. And since then, it has caused quite an uproar in the Agricultural community. Why you ask?

Well although the video may seem light-hearted and gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling, in all reality, it is bashing modern agriculture and presenting “facts” to consumers that couldn’t be further from the truth. Chipotle is banking on the fact that as a consumer, this video makes you feel warm and fuzzy but also makes you question or criticize modern agriculture, when it is possible you know nothing about it. After all, I’ve read a couple times that something like 2% of our entire population make up farmers and ranchers feeding the rest of the 98% of our population. This statistic tells me that the majority of people out there have never even stepped foot on a farm or a ranch. It also tells me that it is my job being part of the 2% in agriculture to educate the rest of the 98% on what it is that my family does and has done for the past 50 years and that we strive to produce a safe, quality product that you can put on your dinner table and nourish your family. And I guarantee you that all farmers and ranchers share that same goal with me. But rather than sit here and nit pick at Chipotle’s video and criticize it, I am going to take this time to provide you with resources and statements about agriculture that are factual and true, not based upon a light hearted cartoon with a celebrity singing the lyrics.

Fun Meat Fact #1: If you want to know how meat (or food) is produced or where your meat comes from, ask a farmer, rancher, or meat producer DIRECTLY, don’t rely on sources like documentaries such as Food, Inc. or Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”. After all, farmers and ranchers are EXPERTS in the field and many have been practicing for generations and if you wanted information, who better to consult than an expert in the field?

Despite what Chipotle’s video may suggest, if you do the research, you will actually find that  according to MEAT Myth Crushers, Fun Meat Fact #2: ” Agriculture operations of any size can be managed in environmentally sound ways. But modern operations can benefit from sophisticated environmental controls.” A study conducted on modern beef production found that since 1977 advances in production practices resulted in:

  • 13 percent more beef
  • with 13 percent fewer animals
  •  uses 30 percent less land
  • and 20 percent less feed

This study conducted also yielded some interesting results versus grass fed and grain fed beef. Please check out the video and site for more information: http://www.meatmythcrushers.com/myths/myth-larger-modern-cattle-operations-today-have-a-greater-negative-environmental-impact-than-small-local-operations.html

But if you do even more research, you will find even more facts about modern agriculture. Explorebeef.org provides us with even more information suggestion that modern agriculture is indeed sustainable. And continues to strive to produce the best possible product they can for their consumers all while using less resources. In addition to the facts concluded by the study above it also finds that:

Today vs. 1977….

  • use 14% less water.
  • 85% of all land is not suitable for agricultural crops, but can be used to graze livestock.
  • A total of 2.8% of all greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to livestock production, compared to 26% from transportation.

So not only are we utilizing fewer resources to produce our beef, but we are also improving efficiency. Fun Meat Fact #3: In 1977, it took five animals to produce the same pounds beef that it takes four animals to produce today. According to an interview conducted by BEEF magazine of Dr. Jude Capper of Washington State University, Dr. Cappers tells us that: “Beef yield over that time has gone up fairly consistently,” she says, noting carcasses can’t keep getting bigger because of consumer acceptance and processing challenges. “What we can do is improve productivity, improve growth rate.”

For more information and to read the interview check out: http://beefmagazine.com/cowcalfweekly/1014-modern-beef-production-green

So all it takes is a little research to find out that what Chipotle is trying to show us in their Back to the Start Video is not actually fact based and also presents a very skewed view of modern Agriculture. Now I would like to leave you with a video that does exactly the opposite. It indeed provides you with FACTS and FIGURES and shows you that indeed the Beef Industry is meeting today’s ever growing demand for beef while using less resources and producing that same quality, healthy, wholesome product.

If you are interested in what some other industry professionals say about the Chipotle ad, check out these reads:

Chipotle Demonizes Agriculture In Commercial On Grammy Telecast

Back to the Start- Chipotle Ad Draws Controversy

Chipotle Strikes a Nerve With Grammy Commercial

Food with Integrity Requires Marketing with Integrity

Chipotle Sparks Conversation

Chipotle Your Grammy Commercial Still Doesn’t Change My Mind

Also for more information about sustainable production of Beef check out these resources:

Agriculture Was Green Before Green Was Cool

Forage Quality and Efficiency

Conventional Beef Production is Eco-Friendly and Eco-Nomical

Raising Cattle for Beef Production Via ExploreBeef.org

Happy Friday Everyone! Today, I invite you to seek out a farmer or rancher. Get in contact with them. Ask them what you’ve been meaning to ask about food production. Share this article and the resources listed above. Let’s help to educate that 98% on what the 2% of us do to provide them with food and nourishment for their families and generations to come!

 

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Tammy

    Thank you for that. It is interesting to get another take on it.

    I moved to England shortly after mad cow hit the headlines, which needless to say called the practices of the time into question. I did visit a dairy farm while I was over there (after the foot and mouth disease scare passed) and I was very impressed. The animals were free range, and there were what I would call ambassador cows that people who visited were allowed to pet (that wouldn’t get stressed by strangers wanting to hug them).

    I do find it strange that there is so much demonization of farmers who provide our foods. You do a job that I simply couldn’t do, and I am grateful for the abundance in our supermarkets and farmer’s markets.Thank you.

  2. Drake

    I am for all production agriculture but aren’t we taking this commercial from the wrong point. Yes I agree with the water pollution and “popping pills” into pigs then making them square and into a truck. But really, its a animation of an “analogy” and really it didn’t put a bad image on anything agriculture. I’ve been watching this commercial over and over and over and the point I see is that Chipolte is going more family farms. McDonald’s did the same thing with their commericals (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sjPnAYwdNI).

    The point Im going across is that Chipolte SUPPORTS agriculture, and yeah it might have taken it past the point it was trying to cross, but it does show support for agricultural and isn’t that what were pushing for in the first place.

    And plus Willie Nelson sang “The Scientist” way better than Coldplay could anyday.

  3. honeylovesoaps

    Chipolte has done fast food a huge favor and put it out of its misery. Millions of americans are being poisoned by the ads by the like of mcdonalds and burger king and the bad farming practices behind it. Thank you for taking us to place where we can feel good about the food choice we make when we don;t have time to cook. Supporting organic agriculture and small farmers speaks volumes and may even save us from a fate that big ag seems bent on delivering us to. ORGANIC, saving the world one seed at a time.

  4. Treating animals humanely isn't a crime

    My problem of this is yes sure it gives lots of nice facts but it doesn’t tell you how we achieve those. The closest it gets to telling us is by calling it “modern technology” so is this modern technology antibiotics that make animals artificially fat on less food and water? Is it cramming them together to save land? So just going through the video, first it says we are feeding almost double the people we used to be on the same number of cattle. Using simple reasoning you can conclude that the cattle aren’t just going to DOUBLE their weight. What animal that grows and lives completely naturally doubles its weight over such a small amount of time. Look at wildcats of whatever you wish but when living naturally animals don’t DOUBLE their weight. So then it goes on to say without today’s “modern practices” we would use double the cattle. So it does tell us what is making this extra growth happen, “modern practices” do it. The problem is it tells us nothing about what these “modern practices” are. It says we would need double the space, one thing I agree with, you have double the cattle you use double the space. It says we would need 1,600,000,000 extra gallons of water, again first: more cattle means more water, second they aren’t telling us how much is being used now, how are we supposed to know if what is being used now is enough for the amount of meat being produced? Then it gives all the statistics about how much water it is and I have one more to add, it is enough water to properly raise cattle to feed a nation. Then it says our population will increase, well yeah it probably will you can actually be pretty positive it will. So it says meat consumption will double. Well hold on, you just told me that the world population will rise by 3 billion from 7 billion and so you are trying to tell me that these 3 billion people are going to eat as much as these 7 billion? Each person would have to be eating more than double what a person NOW would normally eat (not to point out that if you look at the statistics what this seems to be all about meat consumption has gone up a lot from what it used to be). Also there is an easy fix, eat less meat. Then it goes son about how they are saving everything and making more so we can do all the things we care about, well 1: what if we care about being healthy eating meat has been scientifically proven several times to sever health issues and death, bringing me to my second problem with this: how are we supposed to be enjoying and utilizing all of this when we are stuck in the hospital or dead. What “wildlife” are the farmers feeding? I at least was under the impression that wild animals aren’t fed and cared for because once they are they aren’t exactly “wild”. Also are fields the only habitat left because I don’t think that wild animals (for example bears) are exactly welcomed with open arms and also what are these animals that are under the heading “the nation’s wildlife”? Are cattle these wildlife? Moving on the the section about them being treated like family, I’m glad my family isn’t like whatever family this is talking about because I would NOT want to be shipped off to the slaughterhouse. And when much of the process is so mechanical I have to clue how they even get to know them as they would a family member, but then maybe my family is just to kind and other families take their kids before they can grow up and never get to know them and just ship them off to be killed. Then it talks about the 97% of family owned farms, well hats off to you if you are one of those and you treat your cattle as a REAL family member, going out to see them and spending time with them and not shipping them off to have their throats slit. The vital mistake is forgetting about the 3% of a HUGE number of cattle (which makes this 3% a lot bigger than it sounds) see these are probably locked up, living in torture, the usual horrible life but worse. Also what counts as “family owned”? This probably sounds very stupid but based off the rest of the video their definitions are incredibly lenient. So again out farmers have reduced manure, methane, and nitrous oxide but how do they again magically reduce these? Again I have to presume it is done by using antibiotics as nothing else has been provided for me to believe. It continues on about how much more meat we produce using so many less resources but again HOW? There is no logical explanation anywhere that has been provided other than antibiotics, and lots of them. It then claims that there will be more good things in the future, when we have serious health problems if we even lived. So basically in my eyes at least this video is not accurate by any measure. I am in no way trying to offend anyone and I truly would like someone to give me logical alternatives to look into, for now I have to believe what I can see and until you give me something else to look at, I rest my case.

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