Chipotle You Are Serving More Than Burritos

Oh Chipotle,

I thought you had topped it with your 2011 Super Bowl advertisement featuring Willie Nelson’s “Back to the Start” song, but I was wrong. This morning between classes I watched your new Scarecrow Video.

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After painfully watching your three minute video I felt a range of emotions. The feeling that hit me the most wasn’t anger, but sadness.  Erica who must work doing social media for @ChipotleTweets didn’t get it. It appears that she assumed I was sad because of the “bad food” found in the barren grassless, cropless, treeless land the video portrayed, I was sad because this is not at all the way we treat and raise our animals and produce our nation’s food supply. I was also sad because people out there will watch this video and assume that is the way things are.

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The ways food production was portrayed in the video is what made me sad, sad because myself and 2.2 million other Americans work so hard grow food for our families and yours and it looks NOTHING like what Chiptole says farming today looks like. I have NEVER seen anyone raise cattle in a metal box with flashing lights.

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All the dairy farms I have ever been to do not use such housing for their cattle. I always enjoy seeing Will Gilmer (@GilmerDairy on Twitter) of Sulligent, Alabama’s pictures on Twitter, Instagram, Vine etc. of his Holsteins enjoying green fields and sunshine. Chiptole if you have visited a dairy farm where cows are raised in such a container please share with me, I’d like to see it.

dairy cow Holstein Alabama pastures

Gilmer Dairy: Follow Will on Twitter to see what he does on a daily basis on his farm in North Alabama

I’m also not sure why you show chickens being “pumped” with hormones.

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Don’t you know that giving chickens hormones is illegal? It doesn’t happen. According to my poultry science professor Dr. Wallace Berry hormones do not even benefit chickens not to mention it would be too labor intensive. Don’t believe me? The University of Georgia has a great article on 7 Reasons Why Chickens are not Fed Hormones https://www.poultryventilation.com/tips/vol24/n4.

Chiptole if you believe in “honesty” and “integrity” why on earth would you make a video and a game filled with such false and misleading information. To be honest if I didn’t know any better I would probably jump on the band wagon with you. However, I am smarter than that, I am not going to fall for a marketing stunt and I would hope the American public wouldn’t, but in today’s society that would be very wishful thinking.

I have never and will NEVER eat at one of your restaurants. What a wonderful opportunity as a seller of food  you could have to give people a glimpse of how their food is raised, people are curious, more and more people are living off the farm today than ever before. You could make advertising campaign into a positive one instead of one using fear. Considering you sell food I would hope you have been to a farm, but from your video I would guess you haven’t. Myself and many others would love for you to visit a farm (I can find you one anywhere in the country to visit you just let me know). If you were to see what REAL agriculture is like, I think you would agree it looks nothing like your video or your app.

Can We Do This Every Friday?

Last Friday the Auburn University Young Farmers organization went on our fall farm tour. We try to do one every semester to a farm somewhere in the state of Alabama to learn about a different area of production agriculture. Last spring we visited Purcell Farms which does a little bit of everything: cows, golf course, hunts, etc. 



So last Friday morning for our fall farm tour we loaded up three pickup trucks and journeyed about 2 1/2 hours from Auburn to Monroe county. Our first stop was the Frisco City Farmers Cooperative in Frisco City Alabama. Here we met up with Scott Saucer. 



Scott is a grower in the area and I had previously met him through working at the Alabama Young Farmers Leadership Conference, he was our guide for the day. While at the co-op we learned about fertilizer and took a look at their stockyard. 
They sell cattle here every Wednesday. There were not any cattle in the barn on Friday, but there was a random horse. This area years ago raised a lot of hogs, but in recent years like the rest of Alabama people moved away from raising hogs so this stockyard now handles cattle. 

From there we drove to a PhytoGen test plot. PhytoGen is a cotton seed  company.


 Some growers do test plots of different varieties , they grow small plots and when they harvest they keep a close track of how they do and report it back to the copany.  The plot we looked at had three different varieties being grown. Different varieties are used because they have certain characteristics the grower might want (ex. seedling vigor, storm tolerance, fiber quality and yield potential) 

             If you see signs like this while going down the road, it is probably a test plot. 

We also visited a cattle operation on our journey. This producer was a full time cattle farmer. It is calving season so there were several cute calves running around.

One management practice that many cattle farmers use is breeding all their cows at the same time. Cows like humans can be very troublesome when giving birth. If the farmer didn’t control when they were born he would be busy all year watching soon to be mama cows. So it is easier for them all to give birth around the same time. 


The Monroe County Farmers Federation fed us a wonderful lunch of BBQ and fixed us up with literature about peanuts. 

After our bellies were full we traveled to a peanut buying point near Atmore, AL. This particular buying point is the largest in the United States. One of our group members, Mark Philips and his family grows cotton and peanuts in Henry County. He said that their peanuts after harvest go through this buying point. 



Buying points are throughout the southern part of Alabama. After peanuts are harvested they are put in trailers and sent to these buying points where they weigh, clean, dry, inspect, grade and prepare peanuts for storage and shelling. 


If a truck is brought in and the moisture content is too high, they hook up a blower to the holes in the end of the trailer (as you can see in the picture above) and blow air until they dry out and can be stored. If I remember correctly this buying point handles 70 million tons a year of peanuts. 

Fun Fact: DYK that 50% of all peanuts grown in the United States are grown within a 100 mile radius of Dothan, Alabama? 

From there we traveled to the big city of McCullough, AL to the Frank P Currie Gin. Growing up on a cotton farm I have been to several cotton gins, but it always amazes me to see how they work. 

Cotton is brought in on module trucks. A conveyor belt takes it into the gin. 

 This machine is the gin. It separates the seed from the fiber. 

The seeds here are are separated and fall to the bottom

The cotton is in long fluffy sheet. It is stacked up and this machine bundles it up tight and it is then covered in plastic. 

 Each of these weigh around 300 pounds
The seed and lint is moved by a vacuum system to a warehouse where it is stored. It practically fills up the whole building.
The seed after it has been removed from the cotton. 

Cotton seed is very useful. Many people feed it to cattle. It can be used to make oil as well. This here will be carted off to farms to be used for feed. 
The cotton fiber after it is wrapped is placed in a warehouse and sold. Most cotton now goes overseas especially to China to be made into a variety of things. It could be used to make t-shirts, blue jeans, sheets, or even dollar bills! 
Our farm tour was in my opinion a great success. We all learned a lot (some more than others). It will be interesting to see where we journey to in the spring. Like I told Austin, our president, I wish we could take every Friday off and ride back roads of Alabama and look at and learn about crops. It would be nice, but then again I don’t think our professors would take too kindly to that.