One of the more surprising bits of television broadcasted during the Grammy Awards last night was not a hastily thrown together eulogy, nor was it some dance spectacle with religious and sexual overtones – it was an extra long commercial plainly advocating the practice of sustainable farming. Chipotle, the burrito dealing giant that introduced the suburbs to the concept of carnitas, decided to go big and bold with their first televised ad, and purchased themselves 2+ minutes of Grammy airtime to spin a little moral narrative about the pitfalls of industrial farming and the inherent virtues of small and sustainable farming, all sung to the tune of “The Scientist” by the grandfather of Farm-Aid, Willie Nelson (the song is actually a Coldplay cover that is done a great service by Mr. Nelson).
The ad (or short film, depending on how much recognition you want to give it) is titled “Back to the Start” and shows an evolution, of sorts, of farming in America: from simple agrarian animal husbandry to something inhumane, industrialized, and detrimental to everyone involved. See the video below:
The tone goes from cute and cuddly animation to something darker and more ominous that reveals how far off track we have strayed. This progression weighs heavy on the cute animated farmer, who is seen in the winter of his discontent, and who ultimately breaks free of the industrial farming treadmill to return to the simplicity and wholesomeness of sustainable hog farming (nary a vegetable is seen growing in this cartoon ad). There was something very reminiscent of artist Robert Crumb’s lesser-known “A Short History of America” series of drawings that reveal a similar progression, or downfall, of the American countryside. See below: