Response to Chipotle’s Recent Advertisement

In my earlier blog post this week, I referenced a second example of polarization.  Chipotle, the “hipster” food service company, launched a new media campaign this week that is the epitome of selling fear.  Usually I follow my own advice and not let these kinds of things cause me to “lose focus,” but this one is simply too much and I feel compelled to call it on the carpet.

Not sure of your views on Chipotle, but they are really, truly without scruples in terms of attempting to malign production agriculture in order to design and market their brand to urban millennials who know no better (i.e. paint the most successful food production system in history as “evil” in order to be able to charge more for a product they are selling to them at a premium price).  I simply cannot reconcile their belief in “sustainable” production when what they are preaching is that we need to go back to animal production systems that require many fold the amount of land, water, and labor to produce enough animal protein to fill their supply chains – with no change in quality (lots of data on this) and considerably higher risk for food safety / human illness.  What they are selling is sheer craziness, and it is amazing that people actually buy it!

The images they portray of animal production are so far from the truth it is comical – which I guess makes the fact they chose to use cartooning to relay their message very appropriate (I would provide the link but I really do not want any more people to add to their “hits”).  The problem is that it is not comical to the thousands of hard-working, genuine and authentic producers of animal products who are the ones really slandered through their advertising who care deeply about their animals, the land resources upon which they rely, the products they bring to market, and the value they bring to people all over the world.

I also am offended (and I use that word here carefully, but literally) that Chipotle insinuates through their advertising that the collective body of sound, tested, and true science that backs the production systems and innovations that allow our animal production systems to be so productive, safe, and efficient is wrong.  There are thousands and thousands of peer-reviewed publications in the scientific literature from the past 150 years of major investment and effort that have developed, tested, and validated these systems and best management practices.  Chipotle obviously seems to think it is just not a big deal to say that all of this science is not valuable (or perhaps more likely they wish for people to think that it does not exist) — well I beg to differ.  I am very thankful animal agriculture has evolved to embrace scientific and technological innovation in order to produce high quality animal protein in increasingly sustainable and high stewardship ways.  I also am proud there are high integrity, hard-working and brilliant scientists continuing to engage in exploring how to continue to innovate animal agriculture to strive for further improvements in producing more quantity, quality, and safety for more people around the world with increasingly less impact on our precious natural resources. In other
words, our forefathers would have never dreamed of how much progress we would have made – just like it is likely we cannot envision the same for the future 150 years or more from now!

This approach of training people to fear something with inaccurate information so they will desire an alternative at a higher cost (and profit for those doing the training) is unethical and disturbing.

There is an alternative to the original that has now been posted and reveals the real truth behind the Chipotle approach.  You can find it at:

Now, what was that I said about not letting polarization cause one to lose focus?  I think I hear our real mission of innovating for the future based on sound science and practice calling. . .


  1. Lanette Stec

    September 24, 2013 - 12:37 pm

    Jill -What kind of an “animal production system” does a “lower quality, less safe and environmentally damaging product” come from?

    • Jill Brown

      September 24, 2013 - 2:38 pm

      Thanks for the constructive question, and after reading this carefully have deleted those words that were obviously miscommunicating what I was attempting to say. The remainder of that paragraph reflects what is important in the discussion and correctly convey the point that was not made correctly with the earlier language. I appreciate your question and thank you for your attention to make sure I am communicating clearly. Ronnie

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