Back to the Start

Parke Wilde teaches and writes about U.S. Food Policy at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. He also maintains this blog. A friend sent me a link to today’s post with the subject line “check out this commercial”, which I promptly did- without reading the blog post title or the blog post.
I was instantly in love with Willie Nelson’s voice (covering a rendition of a Coldplay song, I came to learn) and the beautiful simplicity of the commercial. I wanted to cheer when the farmer started knocking down the barn walls (but then thought better of it because I was at work and don’t want to draw attention to the fact that I seem to have friends all over the place that are conspiring to get me fired). In the middle of the commercial I wanted (as Dr. Wilde was moved to do) to visit my local Farmers’ Market (which is also open this afternoon) and give all the farmers hugs for doing what they do.

But then the commercial ended, and I realized that this was an ad for- of all things- Chipotle. I felt tricked; hoodwinked. But I gave it a minute. Then another. And I read about their pledge to provide “Food with Integrity” and to treat animals like animals; and surely these things are improvements over other fast food restaurants’ stances on sustainability and health (of the planet, their animals, and our own). That said, I think Dr. Wilde’s interpretation that the “imagery overreaches what a fast-food restaurant can be expected to achieve” is spot on.

And there is still a part of me that would have liked this just a little bit more, if it weren’t attached to such a giant corporation. Call me crazy.

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3 thoughts on “Back to the Start

  1. Not liking Chipotle just because it has been successful seems a bit problematic to me. They seem to be far more concerned with food than most places – including most small/local ones. Size alone ought not condem them. Would it be better if they applied these principles to their original restaurant only?
    I certainly don’t want to defend them not knowing all the facts but, success ought not be a strike against them.

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    1. You are absolutely right Tom, and the issue I had, ultimately, is not that it was Chipotle, per se, but that I was caught not expecting to see that commercial coming from such a large company. I am always a bit skeptical, it’s my default with things like this, and so I can’t help but think there are ulterior motives. Maybe I was just pissed that they (the large fast food company, the “enemy”) actually made me feel something.
      With that said, I do think they are more conscientious than most places, large or small, and that does count for something.

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  2. Of course, I usually argue just for the fun of it. But one could make a case that having a large firm doing things “right” (or at least better) is a gain over a small one doing the same thing. Matters of scale and having a sufficiently large market are important in convincing growers, for example, to change techniques for the better. It’s tough. We can make gazpacho (yum) from local tomatoes (very costly) or from Costco tomatoes that are from Ontario. The Canadian ones are transported BUT are very well grown in a set up that is virtually organic, and are MUCH cheaper. How to balance the obvious value of local vs providing a market to a grower who seems to really be doing a good job.

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