Tuesday, September 24, 2013

When it comes to Food & Animals, Emotion Trumps Fact and Reality?

A well-know chain fast food restaurant recently released a video titled The Scarecrow. This dark, depressing cartoon depicts negative and false images of agriculture. They display chickens being injected then blowing up and cows in metal boxes hooked up to milking machines. This isn’t the first time Chipotle has used scare tactics and false emotional images to guilt people into consuming their burritos. 

I'm curious, do you eat at restaurants like Chipotle and Panera Bread because you believe the animals that produced the beef, pork and chicken served were raised more humanly then the meat served at other restaurants? Or do you base your choice on the taste and price of the food? Or because it's convenient? Does the image of unhappy animals make you want to eat at Chipotle more?

Chipotle is a large corporation with 1,500 restaurants all over the U.S., Canada and Europe. They spend millions on advertising and promotion. The people who come up with these campaigns and videos have most likely never been to a farm. They are in the business of selling burritos and tacos. Unfortunately, they use questionable tactics to promote their products. 

Chipotle's false image of how cows are treated. FYI - no dairyman treats cows this way!

Want to know how cows are really cared for? Check out A Day in the Life of a Cow with photos and information from my dairy farm.

A fellow dairy blogger at Dairy Moos wrote an interesting post, “How Chipotle and Panera Bread are using Fear to sell their Products”. The blogger talks about how high end fast food companies are using fear to sell products by presenting consumers a false and misleading view of modern day agriculture. I urge you to check it out, it’s a good read. 

I pulled a few quotes from this blog that hit home with me:
Talking about the Chipotle videos "back to the start" and “the scarecrow”: Both these videos are cartoon fantasy worlds, albeit very depressing fantasy worlds. Both are extremely dreary and depressing videos. If you ask anyone if they would like to live in that sort of reality, everyone would adamantly exclaim no! Does anyone really want a reality of chickens being injected to blow up, or cows locked in boxes being continuously milked? No person with a soul wants that sort of reality. Both these videos do a great job at evoking the emotions of the viewers and tugging at their heart-strings. The deceptive part of these videos is that they offer a false and misleading view of modern day agriculture.

Regarding menu claims such as hormone-free, or antibiotic-free; the fact is all food must comply with government standards, and that includes strict regulation on antibiotic and hormone use on farms. All chicken and beef must meet the standards that the USDA has in place for antibiotic withholding, regardless of how the animal is raised. Milk and dairy products aren’t necessarily hormone-free; they naturally have hormones in them. But all milk and dairy must be antibiotic-free by law. Using these kinds of labels on restaurant menus is manipulative. It implies that there are no hormones in food, hormones are bad, and implies that all other meat (meat at other restaurants) has antibiotics. Promoting these ideas this way does nothing more than confuse people of what reality truly really is.

I just think it’s a shame that “food with integrity” requires endorsing a false, misleading picture of modern day agriculture. In this case, it is the corporation (Chipotle) that is bullying America’s family farms.

Almost every farm in this country is owned and operated by a family. Farmers deal in reality, not fantasyland. Food safety, quality and selection are better today than anytime in history. Farmers are more vigilant than ever about animal care and engaging with people who want to know how animals are raised. Yet there has never been so much fear of food. Why? Farmers are the same hard working, animal-loving, salt-of-the-earth people they've been for generations. Why all the negative messaging and intentional marketing campaigns to get people to mistrust farmers? 

If your product is good, it speaks for itself. No need to put others down to bring yourself up.

Other blogs I’ve written on this topic:
Antibiotic-Free and Responsibly Raised? 

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for featuring my latest post on your blog. I'm glad more and more dairy farmers are getting online and sharing what they do on the farm. Your blog actually has been very inspirational for me, and has inspired my blog. Thanks again - Stephen from DairyMoos.com

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    1. Thanks Stephen! You have a great blog. It's wonderful you take the time to write such informative posts. Keep it up!

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  2. As a dairy farm-er, mom, partner and working full time in the cow's milk natural-cheesemaking industry, I understand your side of the fence. In agreement, many farms are family-owned and treat their cows with great responsibility as it is their livelihood and pride. However, consumers must also realize there are farms that are not such the case. These farms may have (but not limited to) cramped quarters, unsanitary conditions, lack of pastures, animal by-products in cows' food supply, and EXCESSIVE hormones/antibiotics. Please don't get me wrong, not all farms are that 'nasty'. In my opinion, I don't believe Chipotle is trying to degrade any other food establishment, nor the American Farmer and/or Agriculturist. Chipotle is simply trying to raise awareness of where SOME food may evolve from. We, as a company, supply Chipotle with all-natural cheese. With that comes great care from ourselves and our dairy farmers to go above and beyond the "requirements" set by dairy governing bodies. It speaks millions when a company (Chipotle) not only tries to find where each ingredient comes from, but then go as far as the source and work to "improve" those ingredients by in a sense, going "Back to the Start" by what many call ''old fashioned" practices. And yes, the Chipotle execs and marketing gurus visit our cheese facility and our supplying farms regularly, even in the "unpretty" spring and fall where mud and ice can consume the landscapes. All in all I'm trying to show that Chipotle is a great company whom truly cares about "Food with Integrity." It is not a ploy, a gimmic, or scare tactic just to make money on a burrito.

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    1. Almost every dairy farm in this country is owned and operated by a family. Regardless of size or ownership, if a dairy farmer does not care for their animals by providing clean and comfortable living conditions, quality feed and freedom to move around, they won’t be in business long.

      Since you are a dairy farmer, you must be aware that ALL milk is tested for antibiotics when it arrives at the processing plant and dumped if it contains trace amounts. And that all cow’s milk contains the same amount of natural hormones, which are safe for people to consume. Saying that some milk contains “excessive hormones/antibiotics” is not accurate and causes unnecessary fear that should not exist.

      The images Chipotle uses to depict American agriculture are insulting to farmers. Why must they use animation? To create an evil fantasy land that doesn’t exist? For what purpose? Chipotle is absolutely trying to degrade all farmers who aren’t “their farmers” producing by their so-called standards. This implies products the rest of us produce are poor quality or unsafe, which is completely untrue.

      I have no doubt the dairy farmers who supply your company with milk use “great care”. So do dairy farmers who don’t send their milk to cheese manufactures who supply Chipotle. That’s what dairy farmers do, care for cows. The milk produced at my farm is made into Swiss cheese by a local cheese maker who has won awards for their products. They don’t sell their cheese by using horrific animated videos. Their product sells because of its great tastes and quality.

      Let me give you an example of a company that works with dairy farmers to showcase how they care for their animals and the wonderful cheese produced by quality American milk; Dominos. This company has been working to promote dairy farmers, not degrade them. They don’t use fear to sell pizza. They let their food speak for itself.

      Chipotle should be ashamed of themselves for using fear and lies to sell fast food.

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Thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to comment! I’m opening the doors of our farm to share with you and enjoy engaging in discussion. Please be respectful in your comments. I reserve the right to remove posts that include name calling, slander, and vulgar language or contain links to websites that assault animal agriculture.

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