Monday, May 4, 2015

Thank You, Chipotle

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the fast food chain Chipotle. They recently announced that they are going to all GMO free ingredients in their food. This, after they launched some new ads a few months ago that alienated farmers and ranchers across the nation.

You are probably wondering why I, a farmer, would thank them, right? Why, oh why would anyone that loves to agvocate as much as I do, say thank you to someone slandering the good name of farmers and ranchers? What kool-aid did I start drinking?

We have seen this company along with a few others (Food Babe, etc) attack farmers and their practices. Practices and lives they know nothing about. That they haven't taken the time to ask about or understand. Practices that are sound. Lives that are working dusk till dawn, putting in the hours, the blood, sweat, and tears, adding faith and prayers just to put food on their tables and yours. These folks attack our livelihoods and worse our humanity. We have been accused of inhumane treatment of our animals, intentionally "poisoning" our consumer base, and my very favorite....being a Monsanto shill.

I looked up the word shill, just to be sure I had my definitions straight.
1. An accomplice of a hawker, gambler, or swindler who acts as an enthusiastic customer to entice or encourage others.
Internet Shill, which is the most likely accusation, since we do most of our "shilling" online (she said sarcastically)
   -Someone who promotes something or someone online for pay without divulging that they are     associated with the entity that they shill for.

I once posted on a local news story on Facebook. It was a list of foods that cause cancer according to Sounds legit, right? I responded to a commenter that talked about the poison "dumped" on our food and how he was all organic because of it. I informed him that organically grown foods also use pesticides and that the latest studies were showing that the accepted organic chemicals may be more harmful than what is used in conventionally grown food. He immediately asked if I or my husband were Monsanto shills. I couldn't help but think that he had quite a defense.... He also didn't like that I used the word conventional. Why?...I have no idea.

So let me get this straight....if you are passionate about who you are and what you do, and you defend yourself with sound science and proven methods you are not an advocate for your passion, you are a shill? That doesn't match the definition.
Now I have a question for all the crop farmers, since my farm isn't a commercial crop farm...When is the last time you received a check from Monsanto? If I'm correct, you send a check to them...or to whatever company you buy their product from.

There must be some very disappointed shills out there, not being paid, AND still having to buy their seed.

Yes. There is a lot of sarcasm in what I just wrote. If there was a font called "sarcasm" I would use it. But their isn' you'll have to just imagine it.

With all that sarcasm aside, though, I really would like to thank Chipotle.

You see, farmers are a fairly private bunch. A quiet kind of people. With a few exceptions farmers like to keep to themselves and do their business. Everyone has to eat, right? The Milkman doesn't have a Facebook or a YouTube account. He doesn't take many pictures or share his day very much. Mostly because he is too busy. He is a little bit old school. He doesn't see the value in stopping what he is doing to tweet or Instagram or tell Facebook what's on his mind. Quite probably don't want to know what he's thinking...because there are many days that it isn't very nice or shareable. Especially when I'm done showing him the latest Chipotle ad campaign.

The Milkman isn't alone in these feelings. There are farmers and ranchers all over the nation that are too busy trying to feed a growing population, that they don't take the time to combat the nonsense out in the world. So here's the good part....

Thank You Chipotle!

For waking us up. For making it clear that you, and so many others like you are willing to bash and slander the very people that keep you eating. Thank you for telling so many, like the Milkman, that there is a war and we better wake up and fight it. You, Chipotle, are just a small battle, but you have made it very clear that you will not stop at just clever ads with tainted "facts," you will push the producers of food until they are quiet no longer.

Chipotle, Food Babe and the likes have shaken us. They have shown us that the consumer has trust issues with us. That the science and the facts have nothing on emotion and lies. They prey on our customer base. They don't play by civilized rules. They attack with a battering ram until they convince companies and their customers that the people growing our food are monsters, and attack until they have gained their victory.

In the end the consumer sees that the "victory" comes with consequences they weren't aware of. They weren't aware because the people leading the attack weren't honest or forthcoming about what would happen. That the prices would skyrocket because what they demanded didn't change the quality of the product, just the method. They didn't understand that the original method of production put out a high quality product and the animals were already treated humanely. They didn't look at the fact that a Chiopotle meal, after being "built" has over 1,000 calories even with those GMO free ingredients. I'm sure that Chioptle is just looking out for their customer's health....right?

I would like to throw this out there...I've never eaten at a Chipotle. And thanks to their B.S. campaigns I will not be giving them a single cent.

I am glad we live in a country where we are free to eat how we wish. That we have choices.
You want got it. You want to fall into a marketing my guest. The information is out there. All you have to do is reach out. Ask a farmer.
I'm not, however, glad that agriculture is so divided that it feels the need to attack another sector just to up its bottom line...but those are the cards on the table. That's what we are working with.

So here's my call...every farmer, rancher, and anyone involved in agriculture in this country, needs to wake up and speak up.

There is no way the Milkman is going to agree to making videos or taking pictures. Nor will he be getting a social media account of any kind. But you know what he will do? He will answer questions. He will help me in every way possible to agvocate. He doesn't think blogging or Facebook is nearly as unnecessary as he did when I started. He can see the need for those of us who are willing, to put our message out there. We need to be positive. We need to tell our stories. We need to make an emotional connection with our consumers. And that won't happen if we work every daylight hour and keep quiet.

I have started teaching the Milkmaids about all kinds of agricultural practices. I've learned a lot, myself. I encourage them to ask questions, to me, and other farmers. I want them to join in the conversation and be able to talk about why we do what we do. And why we love it.

Thanks to those willing to make a buck on deceit, we are learning to defend our lives. We are learning how to connect to our consumer base. We are making huge efforts to be available and transparent in our practices and methods. We have nothing to hide.
But we, as consumers, need to be willing to take the time to learn and understand how and why things are done. Consumers need to be willing to seek out the information and farmers need to be there to offer it up.

If you are involved in agriculture at all you need to be prepared to defend your passion without being defensive. You have to be willing to talk to those who don't understand. It isn't always the easiest thing to do. You don't have to be a troll. You, more than likely aren't a shill, so don't expect payments from Monsanto. You just have to agvocate with a passion that can't be matched. Show yourself and your emotions. Connect with our consumers and let them put a face with their food.

Don't forget to thank Chipotle for waking us up...sometimes we need a little shaking to come out of our own worlds to see what's happening in the real world.