Chipotle has recently launched a new advertisement that completely degrades conventional agriculture. The video can be watched at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUtnas5ScSE. The video shows a scarecrow wondering through a factory farm and watching the “horrors” that take place. Chickens are being injected with a mysterious substance and the cattle are very sadly trapped in a box being pumped full of who knows what. The Scarecrow then leaves the farm, picks some vegetables and serves them. Such a touching video…. Now I will admit that Chipotle did use clever marketing tactics in order to lure easily manipulated consumers. However, there are many things wrong with this video and a lot of things that consumers in general need to understand.
Factory farms are in existence for a reason. America is the bread basket of the world. Factory farms, or better known as CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), make possible the mass production of cattle, chickens, turkeys, and swine. Meat produced by CAFOs is often times much more affordable for the money conscious consumer. Organic and all natural food, in general, is EXPENSIVE. I myself can’t afford to even think about purchasing it. Also, the world simply cannot be fed by organically produced food alone. Agriculture is a group effort by conventional producers and non-conventional producers to feed the world and provide consumers with options. If you can afford to buy organic food or simply prefer it, great for you! The rest of consumers out there need to realize that conventionally produced food is just as good for you. Producers have regulations set by the USDA that they have to abide by.
Another important point to understand is that generally CAFOs are only finishing lots. Cattle are usually raised on smaller cow-calf feeder operations until they reach a certain age or weight. At that point they are sold to a “finisher” who puts the last extra pounds on them before they slaughtered for human consumption. So if your one of those people who the thought of a cow living its entire life in confinement bothers you, rest assured, most of the time that is not the case. Poultry is a vertically integrated market. Meaning they generally have one home before they are sent to slaughter. Chicken thrive in a more confined situation away from predators. If chickens are free ranging and running around in a field 24/7, they’re going to get eaten by coyotes before they reach the slaughter.
When considering organic food keep a few things in mind. To be an organic product the product must have at least 95% organically produced ingredients. A product is “natural” only if there are no artificial ingredients and it is minimally processed. Being labeled as “natural” does not give any whereabouts as to how the animal was raised. If you’re buying something that says free-range, it does NOT mean the animal was raised outdoors. No hormones means that hormones were not administered to the animal. The USDA prohibits the use of growth promoting hormones in poultry and swine. http://www.co.missoula.mt.us/healthservices/EatSmart/pdfs/UnderstandingMeatAndPoultryLabels.pdf.
In agriculture antibiotics are used. Before you go freaking out I want you to consider one thing, if an animal is sick are you going to let it stay sick? Die from disease? Infect the rest of the herd? Suffer? When you bash the use of antibiotics in agriculture you essentially are condoning all of these points. Oh, and are you okay with eating a diseased animal? Animals need treatment for disease just like humans do!
To sum all of this up, conventional agriculture is not big and scary like Chipotle is making it out to be. Animals are raised to be eaten, but as farmers we ensure that the time they spend here is humane. When production animals are sick, we treat them for the illness just like you take your dog to the vet to be treated. CAFOs are present because our growing population demands for them to be there. Farmers are just trying to feed the growing human population adequately.