Chipotle twisted farming reality

MICHELLE CHAN | Evergreen columnist

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Exploding cows and sinister, money-craving farmers don’t exactly line up with anyone’s idea of the perfect farm.

And there’s no reason to depict the industry in such a heinous light.

Despite all, companies like Chipotle play the hero in ‘revealing’ supposed truths about the commercial farm. This, of course, is done for marketing purposes. But, while these would-be business vigilantes tout their knowledge on the subject, they also spread misinformation about industry practices.

The fast-food chain recently released a series of film shorts called “Farmed and Dangerous” which tells a fictitious story of industrial farming gone awry. The films are tongue-in-cheek and intended to lend an ethical component to Chipotle’s menu.

The series revolves around the fictional ‘petro-pellet’, a farming tool that apparently will revolutionize industrial production. However, the new technology has the side effect of making livestock explode in the most violent manner.

Regardless of its deleterious effects, the petro-pellet is the “biggest improvement in agriculture since synthetic growth hormones,” according to Mick Mitcherson, the shady overlord of the farming industry portrayed in the series.

Mitcherson’s goal is to shroud the petro-pellet in permanent secrecy, but his plans are foiled when the charismatic hero, named Chip, reveals undercover footage of the exploding cows that he intends to make public.

In doing so, Chip hopes to inform consumers of dangers in the agricultural industry – perils that the ‘industrial farmer’ seeks to keep hidden.

“Farmed and Dangerous” claims the industry clandestinely engages in ethically and environmentally unsound practices for economic benefit and recommends that consumers turn to the small, family-owned farms for their food. Advertising endeavors such as this play on popular ignorance to coax consumers into purchasing their products under the guise of ethical enlightenment.

It’s no secret that people care how their food was treated before it became food. According to a 2014 survey conducted by Texas A&M University, around 70 percent of consumers said animal welfare was important to them.

Additionally, 86 percent of consumers reported that the government should require meat and poultry producers to prove claims like “humanely raised,” according to a 2013 survey by the Animal Welfare Institute.

With this in mind, “Farmed and Dangerous” suggests Chipotle’s fast-food products are produced with morally superior farming methods, one that deviates from the picture of the ‘industrialized’ factory farm.

While the series was intended as a parody of the agricultural industry, it perpetuates false notions of how technology has been integrated into food production. Oftentimes, this is done to benefit both the animals and the consumer.

Chipotle’s series sparks discussion, but rather than inform the public of what the industry has done right, the films enforce a poorly informed anti-technology stance on the subject.

For those who seek the truth, it might be best to look elsewhere.

– Michelle Chan is a sophomore animal science major from Phoenix, Ariz. She can be contacted at 335-2290 or by [email protected] The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of Student Publications.