Unlike that which is portrayed in Chipotle's marketing campaign, modern agriculture and confined animal agriculture are sustainable. Anyone attempting to tell you otherwise is probably trying to sell you on his or her product, and I suggest you double-check his or her integrity and true objectives.
On behalf of today's food producers I have asked Chipotle to immediately refrain from using the phrase "food with integrity" out of concern for the future of the American farmer as well as the American consumer. I am urging that consumers and farmers not frequent Chipotle establishments until the company is willing to change its ways and stop being disingenuous about its motives.
While long troubled by Chipotle's messaging, I am taking action after viewing the June 16 segment on Nightline in which Chipotle owner Steve Ells was openly and publicly talking about his company's commitment to producing "food with integrity" while pigs in the background could be seen drinking from puddles that likely contained their own urine, feces and other possible contaminants and bacteria.
As a kid, we raised pigs out in the hills, and in those mud holes, pigs exhibited their 'piggy-ness.' Compared to today's modern confinement pork production system, where comprehensive manure management plans are in place to protect the environment, our system of 30 years ago was not good for the environment in any shape or form. Trees still do not grow in the area where our pigs once roamed.
I also am concerned with the chicken served in Chipotle restaurants. In the Nightline segment, Ells pointed out that the free-range chicken served in his company's restaurants comes from chickens only fed vegetarian diets. I still, today, have free-ranging hens on my farm, and they eat a vast number of insects and any dead animal carcass that might accidentally show up. So, I am telling you that there is zero integrity in a man who states that his chickens only eat vegetarian diets if they come from free-range conditions. This is just not possible.
While the United States of America is indeed a country where one has the choice to reject the science and technology that have been the success story of American agriculture I want Ells to know that America's farmers and ranchers will no longer stand back and allow Chipotle or any food company to mislead consumers about the accomplishments of the livestock industry over the past 50 years and how the planet, society and our animals have benefited greatly from those.
I have been at every level in animal agriculture, and I can tell you that modern agriculture, through confinement housing, has taken our nation's food system to the most elite in the world. Today's farmers produce the safest, most wholesome supply of food with fewer resources impacted than at any time in recorded history.
Commentary by Trent Loos,
founder of Faces of Agriculture
Loup City, NE
Editor's note: Chipotle's Mexican Grill®'s closest location to Joplin is in Springfield or Tulsa. However, the restaurant is located in major cities across the US.