This post is compensated as part of my ongoing collaboration with Illinois Farm Families; as always, all opinions are my own.
I just got done watching the first episode of Chipotle’s new advertising mechanism, a show on Hulu called Farmed and Dangerous. I guess I should be feeling like eating a delicious burrito on my way to hold a picket sign in front of Monsanto or something, but instead I feel defeated. Sad. And my involvement with agriculture only goes back a few years, so I can’t even imagine what my friends who have been on a farm since birth feel after watching it.
So basically the show is this – a group called the Industrial Food Image Bureau (I.F.I.B. – ha), led by Buck Marshall and his daughter Sophia, is tasked with handling PR for a company called Animoil, which has introduced “PetroPellets” – basically feeding cows pellets made of oil. And oops, the cows explode. Which, of course, someone caught on video, and a young, dashingly attractive advocate named Chip Randolph has posted online for all to see. Sophia attempts to use her feminine charms on Chip to get him to take down the video in the first episode.
Aside from the loose interpretation of reality on the show and the fact that it’s billed as a comedy but really isn’t all that funny, the thing that really, really bothered me was a discussion between Buck and Chip. Buck is trying to get Chip to take the video down, and this little exchange happens:
Buck: If your farming techniques are so sustainable, how come so many family farms go under every week?
Chip: Because industrial farms are subsidized by the government thanks to all your hard work.
Buck: America looks after its corporations, Chip. Nothing wrong with that.
So a few things. One. The definition of corporation is:
an association of individuals, created by law or under authority of law, having a continuous existence independent of the existences of its members, and powers and liabilities distinct from those of its members
Interestingly enough, a corporation can have as few as one owner. Or two, or whatever. Like, perhaps, a farmer and his wife. Implying that “family farms” are not corporations is just plain wrong – many family farms are incorporated. It’s something they do for legal purposes, not a means of selling anyone’s soul to the devil. For the record, Chipotle is a corporation.
Two. Subsidies are an incredibly complex topic. The recently passed Farm Bill did away with direct payments (unless you’re in the cotton business), so what’s left is subsidies that go toward crop insurance – which, by the way, are available to all farms – even farms like Chip’s. These remaining subsidies help farmers of all sizes manage weather and market risk. The notion that is perpetuated in the show – that subsidies exist to make “industrial” farms rich and are what have forced many a “family” farm out of business? Wrong. Just wrong.
Here’s what stinks – I *like* Chipotle. Their food is seriously delicious – and not because it’s local or “responsibly raised” (whatever that means) or organic – because it’s prepared well. They make a darn good burrito. I just wish they’d stick to making darn good burritos and stop pushing misleading advertising in the form of a $250K-per-episode, not-so-funny comedy series targeted at the “Hell no, GMO!” set.
Chipotle is, as of now, not GMO-free. Their zealous followers do know that, right?