In early September the Mexican fast food chain Chipotle released a short video entitled “The Scarecrow,” an innovative marketing tactic with an anti-factory-farming message. The video features a Scarecrow who works in an industrial food factory, but then returns home to his small farm where he decides to harvest his vegetables and travel to the city to sell burritos. I read an article from The New Yorker entitled What Does “The Scarecrow” Tell Us About Chipotle which provides insight into what this video says about Chipotle as a company and also what broader implications it has regarding the food system in America.
An important point that the article brings up is whether this video represents a true commitment to sustainable development and food reform or if it is just a marketing gimmick to get consumers to buy more burritos. Chipotle claims that they are using sustainably raised ingredients, such as antibiotic-free meat bought from suppliers which meet animal welfare standards. However, without any solid proof or confirmation of these claims, it’s up to consumers to trust that Chipotle is telling the truth. But the fact that Chipotle has started promoting these sustainable policies encourages us to believe that they are truly committed to the messages they are sending about food supply. And on a broader scale, it proves that consumers are changing their attitudes about food and care more about ethical and sustainable ingredients.
In addition, Chipotle seems to be making much more of an effort to maintain sustainable and ethical standards for its suppliers and is much more transparent about their meat’s origins in comparison to other fast food companies. This raises the question of whether fast food restaurants like Chipotle have an obligation to responsibly source their ingredients. I think that the answer is yes, especially with consumers changing attitudes regarding sustainability and food reform.
Although the Scarecrow video may give Chipotle more credit than it deserves, I do appreciate what the fast food restaurant is doing and I’m sure a lot of other consumers do as well. In addition, the video brings to light many of the controversial issues with factory farming and initiates important conversation about the American food system.