Call it satire or call it lies, Chipotle Mexican Grill is at it again, playing fast and loose with facts in their online miniseries, “Farmed and Dangerous.”
Released earlier this week, their first episode starts with a bang – literally – as a Holstein, fed a petroleum-based product, explodes. Chipotle has said previously the series is meant "to engage people through entertainment and make them more curious about their food and where it comes from."
But is the popular restaurant chain feeding consumers the wrong message?
Some in agriculture, such as rancher Ryan Goodman, have gone to major media outlets to get their message across.
“Farmers and ranchers are not happy with the continued attack from Chipotle. With such a large production budget and a marketing team that knows how to sell to emotions of the consuming audience, Chipotle continues to win over fans with information and portrayals that are much less than accurate of modern food growers,” Goodman wrote in an opinion piece on CNN. “If Chipotle is so adamant about getting us to learn more about where our food comes from, why spend millions on animations and comedies? Why not talk to actual farmers and ranchers who are on the ground and know more about growing food than marketing executives?”
Others have taken to social media to voice their opposition to the series. Unlike the popular “Scarecrow” advertisement and campaign, a large number of comments left on the company’s social media accounts are negative or questioning Chipotle’s marketing strategy.
“Pretty sad when the greatest marketing tool this company has is to attack family farms and businesses to make themselves look and feel good about themselves,” one person left on Chipotle’s Facebook page.
“Shame on you, Chipotle, for preying on the fears of consumers, but more importantly, shame on those consumers who can't/won't take the time to research the real facts on their own!” another wrote.
One entertainment critic with Variety magazine was quick to question Chipotle’s bridge between advertising and programming.
“The marriage between advertisers and programming...remains an awkward one, even if their heart appears to be in the right place. Because “Why buy the cow when the milk’s laced with a petroleum-like substance?” could just as easily be read as “Why sit through a food-integrity lecture from a company that clearly has a dog in the fight, even if they sugar-coat the packaging?”
One blogger, a student at Iowa State University, listed six things Chipotle doesn’t want consumers to know, including:
- More than 95 percent of America’s farms are family farms.
- The strict regulations farmers and ranchers follow to eliminate antibiotic residue.
- Organic food production still uses certified chemicals, however these chemicals must be from a natural – not a synthetic – source.
- It takes 13 years for GMOs to be approved before entering the market.
- Using GMOs allow farmers to use fewer chemicals on their land.
- Pork and poultry are not treated with hormones.