Let me begin this post by saying that I had full expectations to begin my blogging experience by tackling some “lighter” conversations. I initially planned to write about a discussion that I had with a consumer at the grocery store or maybe an informal conversation with a friend who is not involved in agriculture. But sometimes, we’re approached with situations where we need to react…
Last week, as I was browsing through the food and drink section of Pinterest (my new favorite website) to tempt my taste buds, I saw that a fellow Pinterest user posted a link to a commercial. Like any good member of Generation Y, I clicked on it. A YouTube video from Chipotle Mexican Grill began playing on my screen.
Watch Chipotle’s “Back to the Start”:
At first, I wasn’t really sure how to respond. Actually, the first thing that I did was encouraged my husband to grab his computer and watch it too so that we could discuss the video together. His initial reaction was a bit defensive, as would probably be the reaction of many of today’s farmers if they watched the video. I’ll admit that I had similar thoughts. It’s hard not to be defensive about something that we do day in and day out that is being depicted in the form of a cartoon with images that are simply not true.
However, then my focus quickly changed to the root of the problem: Why is this video painting a picture that there is a major divide in agriculture? In my opinion, there isn’t a divide.
Let’s consider a few of the many things that ALL farmers have in common:
- We are dedicated to providing a safe, wholesome, high-quality food supply for our world.
- We care for our animals and the land.
- We value being a part of our local communities.
This list could go on-and-on.
So what are the differences between any two farms? They are simply management factors. Just like no two businesses or families are alike, neither are farms. What works for one farm may not work for another farm, for a variety of reasons. Can we really have one single way of farming? There are so many variables such as location and resources that impact how and why a farmer makes the management decisions that he/she does.
Let’s not be so quick to judge that big farms are bad and small farms are good, or vice versa. To me, it’s about the principles, values and ideals upheld – many of the same items listed in the bulleted list above. And remember, 98% of all farms in the United States are family farms.
The agricultural industry has countless resources and checkpoints in place to ensure that farmers do unite on these key factors. We follow conservation practices to protect our land, products such as milk undergo numerous tests before entering the food supply and much more. If consumers truly want to learn about where their food comes from, they should visit a farm in their local community.
ALL farmers want to tell our story. The challenge is that it’s a lot easier for someone to stumble upon videos, like this one from Chipotle, that tries to convince us that they know agriculture better than us, the ones that actually grow the food.
This video might have more than 4.2 million views, but for those of us in farming, it is our passion and our livelihood and we can provide the most accurate representation about what happens on our operations. Don’t sit back and let a consumer’s only exposure to farming be through a two-minute cartoon commercial that features animals that look more like propane tanks than actual living things.
I proudly wrote one of the 2,535 comments that this video received so far, although my comment was certainly very different from many of the others. I encourage you to read some of the comments posted by other people to see what they’re saying about agriculture. There’s no doubt that we all need to share our story beyond the barn.