I just watched Chipotle’s latest marketing scheme … an attack on modern agriculture that they hope will bring more millennials to their big, all natural burrito table.  It might work.  It might not.  What happens to their sales doesn’t really concern me.

What makes me sad – and I mean seriously sad to the point that I have tears welling up in my eyes – is that people who have lived in the city all their lives, who have never experienced a farm firsthand, will believe what this video is telling them.

I grew up on a farm just like Chipotle is attacking.  My dad raises crops on a couple thousand acres.  Our farm isn’t huge; it isn’t small.  But we grow GMO crops.  We use synthetic fertilizers and pesticides when needed.  We don’t raise livestock anymore, but when we did, we gave them antibiotics when they were sick and used farrowing crates to keep the piglets safe and the moms healthy.

This is the view of our front yard from the front window in the house where I grew up.
This is the view of our front yard from the front window in the house where I grew up.

Our farm is beautiful.  I feel emotional when I think about the way that the tall grass sways in the wind, or the trickling and bubbling of the creek as I would walk along the rock lane to pick up the mail.  I feel sad when I think that I won’t be there to smell the scent of harvest or hear the whirl of the combine bringing in the crops behind our house.

My mom will email me pictures of deer eating from the apple tree outside what used to be my bedroom window.  I remember the feel of the fresh turned earth underneath my bare feet on the night that we plowed up the garden in the spring.

And when you're walking into the house on the sidewalk between the garage and the house, you get to see this!
And when you’re walking into the house on the sidewalk between the garage and the house, you get to see this!

I had a happy childhood here.  I’m bummed that my kids won’t.

When I tell people about our farm, about the way I was raised and my memories of agriculture in central Illinois, they always tell me that *our* farm isn’t the sort of farm that they are against.  But what they don’t get is that our farm *is* 95 percent of the farms in America.

Farms in America are vibrant places where children are growing up with grass between their toes and the sounds of tractors and the calling of livestock intertwined.  They aren’t exactly the same image of a farm that we saw in the 1950s, but the spirit of that farm still remains. Farms have gotten better – more technology, more efficiency, more food – but they still have a core of ethical values, environmental preservation, and giving back to the community.  Those things don’t change … won’t change.

And when you're washing dishes after Thanksgiving dinner, here's the view from the kitchen window!
And when you’re washing dishes after Thanksgiving dinner, here’s the view from the kitchen window! This is no big box corporation here!!

You don’t have to believe me, but as a person who has lived in rural Illinois, grown up with the farmers you are unsure about, and still works with them today, it’s true.

And it makes me so sad to think that as a non-farmer, this is not the perspective you are offered.  You don’t get to see the love, the connection with the land and the animals, the closeness to God that farmers and their families have on their farm.  Instead, media and businesses use marketing ploys to scare you into thinking that what’s true, isn’t really true.  That farms are just big business, manufacturing your food, and chasing the dollar.

Take it from me, Chipotle’s latest video isn’t the truth.  It’s marketing.  The truth is that farmers are people, just like you.  They own and operate most of the farms in America and they do so with integrity.  They are educated – most have college degrees – and they are not blindly farming the way that someone tells them.  They are making informed choices that benefit their own families and the families eating their food.

My heart begs you to believe me.  If not, you are missing out on the reality of one of the first and best occupations that God ever provided.

mitchell_lindsayLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director


  1. I just wanted to say, “Thank you” We all struggle with this daily and are bombarded with marketing campaigns designed to sell to a growing public misconception of what farming should be and not to the reality of what it has to continue to evolve into being in order to sustain our growing population.

  2. I live in the heart of Iowa corn country and farm a diverse mix of crops and livestock. I think the Chipotle commercial is bang on. Agriculture is trending towards being more chemical-intensive and homologous than ever in history. We have very little diversity in production practices and have left ourselves wide-open for the potential of catastrophic crop failures. We see unsustainable levels of soil degradation – this spring in Iowa experiencing the worse erosion since the Dust Bowl. Crops and livestock have been separated to the detriment of soil health and nutrient cycling. We deploy an unprecedented amount of chemicals that make farm country toxic to humans. Farmer wives and daughters have the highest instances of breast cancer than any other female demographic in the US. Our rural communities have been decimated. I have a hard time understanding what exactly this author is defending – a turf grass yard to walk around in? The stream that is likely polluted with the synthetic fertilizers and pesticides she applauds. Talk to any old farmer candidly and they lament where agriculture is headed. Her dad farms the land that 5 families used to and grows 1/10 of the products they used to. There isn’t room for her kids to go back to the farm because the number of farm enterprises has been cut to 1 – monoculture corn and beans. That is great that she has memories, but doesn’t acknowledge the radical and detrimental changes taking place on the corn belt since she lived on the farm only a few short years ago. This notion of defending all agriculture practices is total bunk and does no one any good. I am glad that urbanites are beginning to differentiate between forms of agriculture – no one is saying they don’t want food. Folks just want food that is good for them and doesn’t leave a wake of landscape and social destruction in it’s path.

  3. I don’t see your point. The video says nothing at all about farmers, or farms. It shows scenes from an industrial plant, which is where a lot of farm output goes these days (and our food in turn comes from). At the end, it glorifies the person who grows actual food, it shows the small farm as a paradise, and it shows the small farmer creatively adapting and carving out a niche. I think perhaps you’re being just a wee bit oversensitive, and accusing Chipotle of things they aren’t actually saying.

  4. I absolutely know what you mean. The problem with Chipotle and companies like them is that they want to jump on the bandwagon of something they don’t understand to increase sales. Animals are raised by people who depend on their health for their livelihood. They are treated well and should be given medicine when needed. With the increase in population and the constant development of farmland, mass production of food is a must to feed the world. GMO’s can be a good solution to pest management when used with other strategies so resistance isn’t built up. Are there better ways to grow/raise things, yes, but is anyone ready to pay for it? Right now Americans spend about 10% of their income on food. Compared to other countries, this is very inexpensive. Many countries spend 30-40% or even more! I’m sure we all know someone who is struggling financially. Can you imagine how that person would struggle if we didn’t use pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, or nutrition supplements to be the most efficient agriculturalists?

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