By Gene Hall
My goodness, have we reached the point where disagreeing on something makes us “haters?” Gee, I hope not. Recently, here on Texas Agriculture Talks, we pointed out some problems with recent ads by the chain restaurant Chipotle in what are plainly attacks on modern agriculture. Other Farm Bureau writers around the country posted similar views.
Chipotle’s ad was cute and engaging—cartoon pigs, cartoon farmer and a lovely Willie Nelson rendition of the Coldplay tune, The Scientist, Back to the Start. A colleague of mine says there’s no black or white on this. It’s either an attack on conventional agriculture that justifies a response or it’s gospel truth and any response is the start of the attack.
Fair warning, I come down mostly on the former, but dang, these things can get out of hand in a hurry. See the post by the blog Fair Food Fight. I’m not hating here. Not on Chipotle, though they are off my personal menu for politicizing food issues. I will not disagree with anyone’s dining choice.
Certainly, I’m not hating on organics, if you’ve read my blog. I have however, at times, been forced to defend modern agricultural practices. I think they are worth defending. Read this sample.
Organic farmers operate under difficult circumstances and deserve nothing but respect. This is not the first time I’ve written those words.
For reasons some don’t understand and some will never accept, most shoppers don’t choose organic. Some of that is cost, and some of it is a comfort level with modern agriculture. I like to think of U.S. agriculture as being quite able to encompass many production methods and consumer choices.
All farmers and ranchers are hard-working and independent, be they conventional or organic. It’s a heavily regulated enterprise, protecting consumer health and the environment. To tell the truth, agriculture likes it that way.
I think the evidence suggests that most of the attacks run the other way. Most organic producers grow for the market that works for them and they don’t spend much time attacking conventional agriculture. Perhaps a few of them and certainly some food activists love to attack modern agriculture.
Some of these are convinced that their Googled information and their intentions are so pure, so vetted and so beyond reproach that any words of defense are the beginning of the attack. I know a little bit about video, and I’m convinced that if I have a script, the luxury of a cartoon image and a song by a legendary singer, I can convince you of almost anything. This conversation should be about more than that. We have to do better. All of this is worthy of discussion. It’s a long way from being settled.
I’m willing to sit down for some good Mexican food and talk it over—but not at Chipotle.