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(Factory) Farmers, Don't Let Your Piggies Grow Up To Be Tacos
August 30, 2011 4:08 PM   Subscribe

"Attention, industrial farmers. Willie Nelson wants you to stop drugging your pigs and smashing them into compact, easily shippable pork cubes. So does Chipotle." Farm Aid organizer Willie Nelson covers Coldplay's "The Scientist" for a pseudo PSA for burrito chain Chipotle's foundation to support sustainable agriculture, family farming, and culinary education.
posted by Frank Grimes (58 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Willie Nelson wants you to stop drugging your pigs...

I'm not taking any lectures on drugs from Willie Nelson.
posted by Trurl at 4:10 PM on August 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


Mmmmm.... pork cubes.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:10 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


CUBIC FOOD IS THE MOST HARMONIC FOOD. FOOD PYRAMID IS JEW CONSPIRACY. 24 HOUR ROTATIONAL FOOD CUBE PROVIDES MAXIMUM NUTRIENT VALUE. JULIA CHILD IS PYRAMID LOVING JEW EDUCATED STUPID
posted by Avenger at 4:18 PM on August 30, 2011 [31 favorites]


I'm not taking any lectures on burritos from Chipotle, either.
posted by vorfeed at 4:18 PM on August 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


I used to the be the purchasing manager for a student co-op. We were so cheap we didn't buy sausage to put on the pizza but "pork nuggets." (sorry about that Willie!)
posted by vespabelle at 4:20 PM on August 30, 2011


As goofy as a Chipotle ad by Willie Nelson sounds on the surface, that was a very cool video.
posted by mathowie at 4:20 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not taking any lectures on drugs from Willie Nelson.

I don't know. He's still alive and kicking. I'd sit around and listen if he gave a TED talk.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:23 PM on August 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


You know, my husband and I just watched Food, Inc., which included some smuggled out video of pigs in the commercial slaughter house. Screaming in fear and pain. I don't care what shape the final product is, the whole industry is revolting. I am glad to hear that at least one chain cares how their product is sourced.
posted by bearwife at 4:25 PM on August 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


I sense a pork leitmotif emerging in my life -- just received a petition thingie about McDonald's using pork from pigs kept in "gestational cages." So this afternoon's hotdog may have been my last.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:26 PM on August 30, 2011


All I know is I was expecting to like that cover a lot more than the original, and then there was like a bunch of autotune or something in it? And now I'm all sad and bloated. Thanks a load, Chipotle.
posted by penduluum at 4:27 PM on August 30, 2011


As for Willie, the best story is the time he and four friends were caught with a three-ounce bag of shrooms & one and a half pounds of weed on the tour bus. They all pulled the I Am Spartacus trick ("it's mine, officer!"), and once the stash had been divided five ways, all five got off with misdemeanors.

The guy is like the pot-smoker's version of Coyote. Long may he live!
posted by vorfeed at 4:27 PM on August 30, 2011 [22 favorites]


I was afraid that video was going to be super-depressing, as most things related to factory farming of animals are, but they hit a good balance of frightening and heartwarming/hopeful without being schmaltzy. It was also a good use of the song, which was cured of Chris Martin's pointless-lyrics-disease* by the context of the video's narrative and by Willie Nelson. The visuals were also really well done.

*it's okay because I actually like Coldplay.
posted by bleep at 4:28 PM on August 30, 2011


one and a half pounds of weed

That's the equivalent of an entire cereal box filled with weed. Do I have this right?
posted by Trurl at 4:36 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's the equivalent of an entire cereal box filled with weed. Do I have this right?

Man, it's Willie Nelson.
posted by IvoShandor at 4:39 PM on August 30, 2011 [15 favorites]


As for Willie, the best story is the time he and four friends were caught with a three-ounce bag of shrooms & one and a half pounds of weed on the tour bus. They all pulled the I Am Spartacus trick ("it's mine, officer!"), and once the stash had been divided five ways, all five got off with misdemeanors.

A.K.A. Willie Nelson and Friends beat The Prisoner's Dilemma...
posted by mikelieman at 4:39 PM on August 30, 2011 [17 favorites]


That's the equivalent of an entire cereal box filled with weed. Do I have this right?

I'll answer, but you first have to tell me if you're a cop.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:42 PM on August 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Pork Corp disagrees
posted by benzenedream at 4:43 PM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


That was better than Willie Nelson making an ad had any right to be, autotune notwithstanding. I compare it to the Austin Lounge Lizards songs for Consumer Union and even if it's cheesy, it's not quite so on the nose. I hope it earns him enough to deal with that pot bust in west Texas last year.

I liked the visuals a lot. The square pigs and the flat chickens made me think of the extruded chicken nugget product in Food, Inc. I think it worked on me, except that I like my local burrito places better than Chipotle.
posted by immlass at 4:45 PM on August 30, 2011


This is fantastic -- layered with just the kind of messages we need to see in sustainability.

Does not demonise the factory farming industry -- which is key to having the message heard and not rejected. 'I was just guessing...' ie. we haven't ended up using unsustainable practices out of intention, rather -- as happens in most cases -- technology precedes morality.

Takes a pop culture icon with a history of credibility in (ahem) agriculture and family farming. It leverages that icon's relevance via a contemporary pop hit.

Posits the brand in a win-win proposition -- better for Piglet and better for us.

This is a very Whole Foods-style marketing message. Whole Foods did not say, "Hey yo, the products at Safeway are pumped full of crazy sh*t". Instead, Whole Foods messaged about the benefits of sustainable products. Next time the consumer rolled up at Safeway, it was them who asked the question... "what's in this, then?"

Brilliant messaging. Next time you're in line at McDonalds, I hope you can hear the pigs screaming.
posted by nickrussell at 4:48 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, it's Willie Nelson.

If the 5 men were claiming joint ownership, as it were, of the cereal box, do we know for a fact they weren't telling the truth?

I mean, maybe Willie paid for the whole thing. But if he did so as a corporate amenity for his senior staff, I consider that no more than a touring expense.

Even if it's Willie's own personal stash, I expect the demands on his hospitality are greater than those placed on ours. And if I had his IRS bill, I'd wear my shit down fast too.
posted by Trurl at 4:49 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I sense a pork leitmotif emerging in my life -- just received a petition thingie about McDonald's using pork from pigs kept in "gestational cages." So this afternoon's hotdog may have been my last.

http://www.chipotlefan.com/index.php?id=chipotlemcdonalds
posted by simms2k at 4:49 PM on August 30, 2011


> Pork Corp disagrees

That was certainly a heck of a thing.

Someone hold me. And put Mr. Nelson's music back on. Can we listen to Georgia on my Mind?
posted by BrashTech at 4:49 PM on August 30, 2011


I'm not taking any lectures on burritos from Chipotle, either

Ok, but for a chain-made, fast food burrito? Sure if you're in San Francisco or Tuscon there are obviously better burritos everywhere you look. But in places like Des Moines or Grand Junction, a Chipotle burrito is pretty goddamned delicious. And it beats the hell out of a McDonald's or Hardee's.

I used to work for Chipotle. I worked on the line wrapping burritos (once even wrapping one for Greg Oden, even though I had no idea who it was at the time) and later as a prep cook. And you know what? They pretty much walk the talk. You may not like their burritos, which, you know, to each his own and all of that, but as far as corporations go - especially fast food corps - they're pretty legit. When I started working there I completely expected to discover that all of their marketing is utter bullshit and that they are like any other Monster Company (McD's did own the majority of their shares until like 2004), and I was pleasantly surprised.

With the exception of some of the chicken, all the meat comes from excellent humane and ethical sources, which are listed at the stores. All of the steak and the chicken is marinated at the store, grilled and diced. The pork is all hand-pulled each night at the store. Most stores now get their beans from organic sources as well.

The only things not made basically from scratch on-site are the medium green and hot red salsas. The tomatoes in the mild salsa? Those are picked and diced just 2 days before they hit the store. The guac takes like an hour and a half to make each batch, because it's made from whole avocados, whole onions, whole jalapeno, kosher salt, lime juice. The chips come half made, and are fried, salted and limed up on-site. Even the cheese is pretty good quality (and a secret delicious thing to get there is a quesadilla...).

I don't miss working there, to be sure. But once in a while I still eat there, which is more than I can say for any other industry job I've had. Plus chains aren't going away. It would be great if they did, but they aren't - and it's nice to see a pretty decent and still profitable model.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:50 PM on August 30, 2011 [46 favorites]


Sure if you're in San Francisco or Tuscon there are obviously better burritos everywhere you look. But in places like Des Moines or Grand Junction, a Chipotle burrito is pretty goddamned delicious.

Truth.
posted by juliplease at 4:53 PM on August 30, 2011


I'm not taking any lectures on drugs from Willie Nelson.

Unless it's about where to get the best stuff.
posted by jonmc at 4:54 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hang around Willie long enough, you start seeing hypercubic pigs. These things just happen.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:54 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sure if you're in San Francisco or Tuscon there are obviously better burritos everywhere you look. But in places like Des Moines or Grand Junction, a Chipotle burrito is pretty goddamned delicious.

Truth.
(or London)
posted by nickrussell at 4:55 PM on August 30, 2011


Oh and yeah, that was a pretty cool ad.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:56 PM on August 30, 2011


Pork Corp disagrees
posted by benzenedream at 4:43 PM on August 30 [+] [!]


Damn, I was going to post a link to Pleix. Fucking beautiful work, still holds up well.
posted by fake at 4:57 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am honestly extremely skeptical about the movement towards "ethical" meat-eating. If an animal is sentient enough to deserve not being mistreated, how is it not sentient enough to deserve not being killed? To me, it seems much more back-patting than good-doing. I mean, yes, utilitarianly-speaking, a nation full of "ethical" meat farms is better than a nation full of standard ones, but there's still an issue of where we put our energies and what message we're sending-- political energy and communicative capital are both finite resources. Suffering-wise, I'd rather see a decrease in quantity of meat consumed than a mere shift of the same meat to "ethical" sources. (Ecologically, of course, this is a whole other issue where any realistic alternative to factory farming is something we need to figure out fast.)
posted by threeants at 5:01 PM on August 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


/self-righteous veg filter
posted by threeants at 5:01 PM on August 30, 2011


(I like the Willie Nelson version, too - well done)
posted by fake at 5:01 PM on August 30, 2011


I'm not taking any lectures on drugs from Willie Nelson.
I'd totally take a lecture from him. He's an expert.
posted by Foam Pants at 5:07 PM on August 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


If an animal is sentient enough to deserve not being mistreated, how is it not sentient enough to deserve not being killed?

Well, to me there is a difference re: self-awareness and thoughts of the future. A human being understands the concept of death, anticipates their own death and so on. In addition, the death of a human tends to cause suffering for other humans.

Most animals, it seems, do not. They do feel pain, however. Depending on the animal, it is possible to kill them without causing pain to them or other animals (depending on things like how social the animal is, etc). This is rarely true with humans, and even if it was our legal framework says it's better just to not allow it.

Animals will die for food (for non-humans) no matter what, given the existence of carnivores. Humans can avoid causing unnecessary pain without having to avoid causing death entirely.

I mean, I understand the argument for just not killing at all, but I do think there is an argument for animal welfare and reducing suffering as a sufficient goal.
posted by wildcrdj at 5:09 PM on August 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'd rather see a decrease in quantity of meat consumed than a mere shift of the same meat to "ethical" sources.

Inevitably embracing humane animal husbandry leads to eating less meat - simply because of cost. Meat consumption is more elastic than you'd think.
posted by JPD at 5:09 PM on August 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


threeants: Suffering-wise, I'd rather see a decrease in quantity of meat consumed than a mere shift of the same meat to "ethical" sources.

Well, more ethical meat production isn't as efficient which should raise prices and therefore decrease demand.
posted by JiBB at 5:10 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


A human being understands the concept of death, anticipates their own death and so on. . . . Most animals, it seems, do not.

I'd invite you to watch Food, Inc., and other footage from slaughterhouses. The pigs seem to know quite well why they are there. The screaming doesn't start only at the point of slaughter.

I have become less and less comfortable with the idea that human beings are unique in our ability to feel sadness, grief, anticipation of death, and ongoing terror. We certainly aren't the only reasoning animals. And in any event, commercial food production is about as far from employing humane and painless killing procedures as one can get. (Not to mention how absolutely appalling life is for these animals before the slaughterhouse.)
posted by bearwife at 5:19 PM on August 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Since industrial meat production is hastening our extinction as a species, it's in the animals' best long term interest to indulge our appetite for pork cubes.
posted by Trurl at 5:19 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have become less and less comfortable with the idea that human beings are unique in our ability to feel sadness, grief, anticipation of death, and ongoing terror.

(related)
posted by Trurl at 5:21 PM on August 30, 2011


I am honestly extremely skeptical about the movement towards "ethical" meat-eating. If an animal is sentient enough to deserve not being mistreated, how is it not sentient enough to deserve not being killed?

Suppose I show you a machine (crude circuit board, obviously nonsentient) and ask you to switch it off. Switch A will switch it off instantaneously and silently. Switch B will produce a realistic simulation of whines of anxiety for several hours, followed by minutes of shrill, desperate screaming.

I'm a bit unsettled by people who'd consistently prefer switch B.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:34 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks so much for posting about your experience working there Lutoslawski, I always wonder if they really are walking the walk regarding their marketing. A lot of people get caught up in chain-hating because god forbid their friends find out they enjoy a chain restaurant. Yeah yeah, it's not like you're in a taqueria in the mission district but good god is it not the next best thing.

Loves me some Chipotle.
posted by windbox at 5:40 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


threeants, I think for a lot of people, "ethical" meat eating is more about environmental sustainability and the quality of the product (chemicals/antibiotics/etc.) than animal welfare. Temple Grandin's work on "humane slaughter" has shown that how an animal is killed makes a significant difference.

(I'm not a meat eater myself.)
posted by headnsouth at 5:45 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Moving from the Tex-Mex heaven, Austin Texas, to the Tex-Mex innermost ring of hell, Seattle Washington, Chipotle is my Tex-Mex jesus. I'd never eat it in Austin, but up here. Damn. It's a fix.

Chipotle Fights the good fight.
posted by roboton666 at 5:52 PM on August 30, 2011


Willie sang a duet with Tobey Keith. I can't..I just....can't.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:01 PM on August 30, 2011


Needs more animal 57
posted by bonehead at 6:24 PM on August 30, 2011


justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow: Switch B will produce a realistic simulation of whines of anxiety for several hours, followed by minutes of shrill, desperate screaming.

Switch B apparently plays a Yoko Ono record.
posted by dr_dank at 6:48 PM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Willie Nelson is a national treasure.
posted by Sailormom at 7:06 PM on August 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


I like Chipotle burritos. I mean, I really like them. Not saying I've never had better, but they're quite good. So plus one to "I'm glad they walk the walk."

But even more important—not that the animal welfare angle isn't—I have the notion that they treat their employees like people. I've never worked for them, but I can't help noticing that at the Chipotle's I most frequently visit (Iowa City Chipotle, you're great!), most of the people who work the line have been there as long as I've been going there, three years and some. Not typical for a chain restaurant, I think. Not conclusive evidence that they're not soulless bastards, but somehow reassuring.
posted by bricoleur at 7:10 PM on August 30, 2011


I think for a lot of people, "ethical" meat eating is more about environmental sustainability and the quality of the product (chemicals/antibiotics/etc.) than animal welfare

Probably true. But for a lot of people, it is primarily about animal welfare. To oversimplify the argument, it's better to be a pig that lived a good, if unnaturally short, life, than not to have been at all. And the latter would be the case if people stopped eating pigs—no farmer would raise them and pigs as we know them would soon be extinct. Humanely raised pigs can live outdoors, root in the ground, etc., etc. And then at some point, they can be humanely slaughtered (cf. the Temple Grandin link above). Personally, I think that fate is probably better, from a utilitarian standpoint anyway, than dying of one of the variants of old age, such as Alzheimer's, cancer, Parkinson's...
posted by bricoleur at 7:28 PM on August 30, 2011


Why isn't Willie Nelson my grampa?

Life just isn't fair :(
posted by Windigo at 7:48 PM on August 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Humanely raised pigs can live outdoors, root in the ground, etc., etc. And then at some point, they can be humanely slaughtered (cf. the Temple Grandin link above). Personally, I think that fate is probably better, from a utilitarian standpoint anyway, than dying of one of the variants of old age, such as Alzheimer's, cancer, Parkinson's...

It's the fact that we don't apply that same metric to human beings that puts me in a quandary about meat. My animal diet is limited to free range or hunted/fished, but there are exceptions there, too. Fish farming, for one, makes me read up on these companies. Not all eggs advertised as free range necessarily are. I've been on this idea that the good life/quick death combo is an allowable window for meat, but a natural result of taking these considerations is thinking about our regard for animals in general, in other contexts, such as environmentally. We do treat them as resources, after all. Do we have a sustainable model for using them? Or will our methods of production have negative long-term consequences? Either way, I think the environmental and ethical concerns are intertwined.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:50 PM on August 30, 2011


"A human being understands the concept of death, anticipates their own death and so on. . . . Most animals, it seems, do not.

I'd invite you to watch Food, Inc., and other footage from slaughterhouses. The pigs seem to know quite well why they are there. The screaming doesn't start only at the point of slaughter. "

I'm pretty sure oysters definitely do not understand the concept of death. Now that I'm more engaged with the production of my food, I am tending towards an interest in invertebrates and cold-blooded animals. Pigs definitely are intelligent. That's why those cages exist in the first place, because left to their own devices they are quite mischievous. My desire to raise them dropped quite a bit when I worked with a farmer who had to get rid of them because they were menacing her children. Besides that, they are quite unsettling to deal with and to slaughter because of their human-like qualities. Even a "sustainable" pig slaughter is deeply unpleasant.

We can argue all day about whether or not freshwater prawns or snails have those qualities, but on a practical level they just don't. They can be fed much of the same waste we feed pigs and their waste can be used as fertilizer. They have all the nutrients meat has. That's what I'm interested in these days.
posted by melissam at 9:09 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I liked the video. I eat at Chipotle. I recently switched from chicken to steak when they put up the signs saying they couldn't get enough humanely raised chicken.

I haven't seen Food, Inc. I have been to the Farmer John plant near Los Angeles and was able to hear a truckload of screaming pigs being driven into the facility. That was unsettling and my consumption of tasty tasty bacon has gone down considerably since then.

A lot of us are going to keep eating meat. Raising the animals in a better manner and practicing more humane slaughter is a reasonable goal for now. It is good to see a corporation do this, even if it is a bit self serving.
posted by sciatica at 10:06 PM on August 30, 2011


Suppose I show you a machine (crude circuit board, obviously nonsentient) and ask you to switch it off. Switch A will switch it off instantaneously and silently. Switch B will produce a realistic simulation of whines of anxiety for several hours, followed by minutes of shrill, desperate screaming.

Bear in mind also that pressing Switch B will take an additional X dollars out of your pocket that are not removed by pressing Switch A.

Also, operators are not obligated to stay around and listen to the screaming. Actual machine may be located several hundred miles away from button.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:09 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I loves me some Chipotle. I've won that "put your business card in the bowl for a chance to win lunch for you and 12 of your friends" thing. Twice.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:15 AM on August 31, 2011


Did someone say Square Pigs?
posted by pjern at 7:38 AM on August 31, 2011


Probably true. But for a lot of people, it is primarily about animal welfare.

Case in point, me, enthusiastic eater of meat. Both factors are important, but I have spent a lot of time thinking about the ethical implications of eating meat and there is a major difference in my comfort level depending on how an animal was treated during its life and when it was slaughtered. I've also slaughtered animals for food and if I had my (completely unrealistic) druthers that'd be a requirement to be a meat eater too.
posted by rollbiz at 8:54 AM on August 31, 2011


Suppose I show you a machine (crude circuit board, obviously nonsentient) and ask you to switch it off. Switch A will switch it off instantaneously and silently. Switch B will produce a realistic simulation of whines of anxiety for several hours, followed by minutes of shrill, desperate screaming.

I'm a bit unsettled by people who'd consistently prefer switch B.


This argument is extremely flawed as a response to my point. My point is that energies which are currently being devoted to making meat more ethical could instead be devoted to making meat nonexistent; that it's not necessarily steps along a continuum heading in one direction. Which is all debatable, but the example you present bears no relation to the real-life problem.
posted by threeants at 9:15 PM on August 31, 2011


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