This farm mom says Chipotle’s Scarecrow video attacks family farmers

Over the past year or two, I’ve had many people ask me why I haven’t done a post about Chipotle and their misleading marketing and lies about family farmers.chipotle screenshot

I’ve given each of those people the same response – a family friend once told me that you should never send an email when you’re mad.

You can write the email, but then you should sleep on it, let someone else read it, think about it, etc… but never send it while you’re mad.

The way I see it, writing a blog post when you’re mad is even worse than writing an email. I started writing a Chipotle post several times but each draft was filled with anger and frustration so I decided to to wait until I wasn’t mad anymore.

Today, I decided to stop waiting.

I’m still mad.

No, mad doesn’t really describe it.

I’m hurt.

Farming, agriculture and the rural lifestyle all make up a major part of who I am.

It is ingrained deep in my soul.

It is a part of every childhood memory, every family function, every friend I confide in, every career decision I’ve ever made and every aspect of my life.

So whenever Chipotle decides to release another marketing campaign full of half-truths and exaggerations that smears the name of family farmers, I don’t see it as an attack on “big ag.”

I see it as an attack on my family and friends.

An attack on my dad who spends so many early mornings and late nights caring for the cattle and pigs on our farm and then goes to his “day job” and helps other farmers learn how to try new things on their farms to better care for their animals and land.

An attack on my mom, who has always worked alongside my dad on the farm, whether that means fixing fences in the summer heat or hauling feed buckets through the mud and snow to make sure our cattle are fed. A woman who taught three daughters to work as hard as any man and two sons to be compassionate and patient with a sick animal while nursing it back to health.

An attack on farm kids, like my siblings and I, who got up extra early before school to feed our animals. Kids who seldom got to sleep late on weekends or watch Saturday morning cartoons because we had farm chores to do.

An attack on young families like Aaron and I who are cutting coupons and saving every spare dime to someday have a farm of our own and chase our dream of raising our family on a farm. Families who know that the world is changing and growing but that we will always need farmers who are willing to dedicate their lives to feeding their communities.

An attack on my friend David (blog) and his family who raise chickens and never inject them with hormones (which is ILLEGAL, by the way!)

An attack on my friends Carrie (blog) and Emily (blog) and their families’ dairy farms. Emily’s family farm is organic and Carrie’s is not but on neither farm are cows locked in dark boxes like they are in Chipotle’s latest video.

I would love to go through the Chipotle videos and point out every exaggeration, misleading image and blatant lie.

Unfortunately, I’m still too hurt for that. If started writing today I probably wouldn’t be able to edit out the anger and frustration before Christmas.

I will refer you to a great post by Diana Prichard from Righteous Bacon that addresses the major issues in Chipotle’s “The Scarecrow” video.

Seriously, she does an amazing job with this post!

There were moments while reading it that felt like she had just written down my own thoughts on this issue.

Here’s my favorite part:

“The problem with this is that you can’t be kind of pro-farmer any more than you can be kind-of pregnant. You’re either pro-farmer or you’re not.

More than 98% of America’s farms are family farms. Most of them, a full 91%, are small family farms at that.

What most consumers think they’re getting behind when they support companies and initiatives that purport to fight against “factory farms” and the farms that are actually negatively targeted by most of the advertising these companies and initiatives do are two very different things.”

So whether you consider yourself “pro-farmer,” are disgusted by the complete disregard to ethics in Chipotle’s advertising approach or like me, you’re angry and hurt that Chipotle is attacking family farmers, I hope you won’t give Chipotle another penny of your hard earned money.

If you have questions about where your food comes from or how it is raised, I’d be happy to connect you to some family farming friends.

They’d love to answer your questions with their own photos and experiences (instead of cartoons and touchy-feely music).

Just ask in the comments, or drop me a note on the contact page.

About Celeste

Celeste grew up on a family beef cattle and show pig farm in Western Kentucky. In addition to farming and life as a restaurant wife, Celeste owns Celeste Communications where she works as a photographer, graphic designer, videographer and consultant. This blog is Celeste's personal soapbox. Any ranting or raving is her own and does not reflect the opinions of any of her clients. All photos and posts are copyrighted property of Celeste Communications.


This farm mom says Chipotle’s Scarecrow video attacks family farmers — 12 Comments

  1. OK. I saw the video. I had never seen it before. It was definitely very catchy and emotional.

    I had no idea who Chipolte was or is, so I didn’t know where the video was leading. I had never heard of the restaurant or eaten at one.

    I thought it was very positive on non-corporate farms. The whole video seemed to lead up to this scarecrow’s own personal farm. There were images of the cows in the mechanical milkers and the robotic crows.

    I don’t understand why you wouldn’t like it. Is it because it was made by a corporation? I am confused what you didn’t like about it.

    As a disclaimer I have absolutely no experience with family farms, having been born and raised in San Francisco and lived most of my life within 30 miles of that city. However, on the outskirts of the Bay Area there are many family farms who come to Farmers’s Markets in the cities on a regular basis, and they are very, very popular. I have attended many.

  2. I didn’t know that the film was about your farm. Is it hard being a computer animated cartoon? I guess you are taking steps to ensure that in no way possible will anything you grow or raise on your farm end up in a Chipotle meal.

  3. Brian – I don’t have any control over what restaurants or families will purchase the beef produced on my family’s farm. We generally sell our pigs locally after we are finished showing them though, since we raise so few each year.

  4. Jackie – First of all, thank you for asking questions. The entire reason I started writing this blog was to answer questions from folks like you who have never been to a farm.

    My major problem with Chipotle’s entire campaign is that they are making it seem like there are two types of farms – family farmers and factory/corporate farmers.

    This is such a grey area. What makes a farm a factory/corporate farm? What about farms that are both?

    Is my friend David (whose blog I linked to in the post) a factory farmer because his family has hundreds of thousands of chickens each year? I know his family in real life, they aren’t some big corporation. They’re a family who works together every day and oversees the care of all of their animals and land multiple times a day.

    On top of that, some of the Chipotle showed in their video is just plain made up.
    I have been to many dairy farms and I’ve never seen (or heard of) cows locked in boxes being milked. I’ve never seen chickens being injected with anything (though some farms do administer antibiotics through the chickens’ feed or water).

    If you have more questions, feel free to ask. I’m also going to include some of my old blog posts that discuss what we do on my family’s farm so that you might have a better understanding/background on where I’m coming from. (Plus there’s cute pig photos!)

    3 ways pork producers learn how to properly care for our pigs
    Farmers and ranchers were green before green was cool
    Sometimes farming sucks
    Farm families don’t just raise food, they raise responsible kids
    Why I love caring for our pigs

  5. Thanks for your response.

    First, I have been to plenty of farms. I have never lived on one, nobody I know personally as a friend or family member owns one, and they are long distances from where I live. For my business, I travel all over Northern and Central California, and have been on many, many farms, from the coast to the central valley and everywhere in between, both family and corporate owned. I can see the differences.

    The video is obviously a caricature. It is supposed to show an exaggeration of two different lives and two different ways to doing things. The cows in the metal boxes are meant to symbolize the confinement that many cows face while being milked. And the chickens receiving injections are supposed to be types of hormones or injections that many farm animals receive.

    Obviously it a cartoon since nobody would employ a scarecrow and there are no mechanical crows. The whole film is showing extremes in a cartoon and childlike environment. Even the music is from a children’s movie, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

    There is a lot of symbolism there meant to hit upon a wide range of emotions and ideas. I thought it was good. Of course, it wasn’t real, since nobody would employ a scarecrow!

  6. I agree with Jackie that it was a caricature of factory farming. That is why it stings because many family farms have adopted practices that are similar to what is in the video. Just because a farmer is a family farmer does not mean that that everything that farmer does is good. I have seen many unethical things done on farms. Maybe chickens do not get hormone shots but can you say that about beef cattle or dairy cattle? Maybe the ag industry needs to take a new look at some of the things they do because one thing I know is that the consumer is watching a lot more closely than they used to.

  7. I think this is the type of video that will provoke different feelings and thoughts in each person who sees it. If you were to take ten adults in put them in a room to watch that video, you would receive ten different viewpoints because each person has different feelings about farms and where their food comes from.

    Some people who may have been raised on a farm, or come from generations of farmers and have one viewpoint. Another may have been raised in a city, and have a different. Some people may have been workers on a farm and seen a farm from that perspective. Some people are more aware of organic food and some are more aware of animal welfare. Some people care more about taste and year round availability if they cook a lot or own a restaurant. Some people want to support their local growers.

    What is so good about that video is that it is put into a cartoon and easily palatable form that it is fun to watch without seen gruesome and horrible images. The point gets across to even a small child that has some sense about where their food comes from.

    I can see this video being shown to kids in a grammar school when nutrition or food is discussed.

  8. I think that you are missing the whole point of the fact that this is an imagined future and not the current reality. Chipotle as a corporation advocates for family farming and is not necessarily all about big vs small. These are not meant to be truths – but are meant to get you to think about the way our country is headed IF we don’t start changing NOW. I can see where you are coming from if this video was supposed to be a comment on current practices, but this is clearly an imagined future.

  9. Julie – I just rewatched the video and read their description for it and I do not see any indication that Chipotle is illustrating what they view as the future.
    I urge you to do further research into Chipotle. They only advocate for the farms that they deem worthy based on their feelings, not scientific fact. Chipotle doesn’t feel that my family farm is “good enough” to represent because we choose to utilize modern technologies to ensure the best possible care for our animals.

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