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.
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.
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.
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.