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Chipotle Promotes Sustainable Farming

The message is unquestionably about encouraging awareness, to both consumer and producer, to reverse course and return to a more simple and sustainable model. While it is a Chipotle advertisement, the company obviously took the opportunity, not to hawk burritos, but to send a message and associate themselves with a movement that puts corporations on the frontlines of the sustainable agriculture and farming movement. The ad’s intent, besides raising awareness, is to drive viewers to buy/download the Willie Nelson tune, which will put money into the coffers of Chipotle’s Cultivate Foundation – a foundation started last year to promote and support sustainable family farming. Chipotle has donated over $2 million in the last two years to groups promoting a similar agenda, like Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, and with the success of this ad, more revenue will likely be collected and distributed to organizations that move the conversation, and reality, of sustainable farming forward.

The ad is cute, impactful, effective and bold in its presumption that viewers will be ready and receptive toward such a message. I commend it for its simplicity, but it does fall short on a few points: The first is that it shows the farmer’s inner moral battle and his ultimate resolution of leaving behind his adopted industrialized practices and returning to a more natural model. If only it were this easy. Most farmers participating in the industrialized model were lured into the promise of greater yields and returns and are now held economically captive by a system that would not allow them to make such a change, at least not without great hardship or threat of ruin. The majority of these farmers are not greedy sadists who take pleasure in keeping pigs, chickens and cows confined, but farmers that bought into a farming model that has made them effectively a ward of a larger corporation and unable to emancipate themselves.

Another small issue I have with it is that the ad, in its promotion of simple farming, makes sustainable practices look identical to the practices of a century ago. While yes, sustainable farming may look a lot more like the farming of the 19th century than the feedlots of the last 50 years, it is hardly unsophisticated, nor unscientific. Many of the most successful sustainable farming practices combine the best of traditional farming and the advances of 21st century technical innovation. A return to a sustainable model does not necessitate a return to a little house on the prairie. And lastly, I wish there was a little more of a directive or gesture toward education, other than to “download the song” at the end of the ad. If the audience has sat through a 2-minute ad concerning sustainable farming, the odds are that they would be open to a message that implores them to take a more definitive action towards reshaping the agricultural economy.

Granted, these are small issues with an ad that may accomplish much toward raising awareness and raising the bar when it comes to domestic farming practices. What did you think? Is this advertising at its best? Does the message move you toward action?

Related: Chipotle & the Benefits of Staying Local

Read more: Animal Rights, Blogs, Environment, Following Food, Food, Green, Make a Difference, , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

83 comments

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11:41AM PDT on Apr 7, 2012

great thanks

5:52PM PST on Mar 6, 2012

The only way to go...!

11:27PM PST on Feb 24, 2012

Loves the video, thanks!!

1:05PM PST on Feb 19, 2012

great video thanks for sharing :)

8:43AM PST on Feb 19, 2012

Oh and I forgot to say that the prices are very reasonable at Chipolte. I go there all the time

8:39AM PST on Feb 19, 2012

I love eating at Chipolte!! Mostly organic food and fresh too! My kids love it and they are fussy. If they are good for the environment that is a plus but it is delicious food!

2:08PM PST on Feb 16, 2012

good start hope more companies follow.

12:20PM PST on Feb 16, 2012

I love Chipotle. Great food and good prices too. I do wish they'd serve a barley/quinoa mix or another grain instead of rice as a burrito filling.

9:40AM PST on Feb 16, 2012

That's great! I had no idea that Chipotle supported small farms. I've always thought they were pretty good for fast food (or at least the vegetarian options have always been healthy), but now I have more respect for them as a business.

8:16AM PST on Feb 16, 2012

Pretty effective!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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