Attacks by Chipotle Mexican Grill on our country’s food system have hit the heart of American farming and ranching families, something their marketing team fails to recognize. One of these farming families includes Bob and Mary Mertz, 4th generation farmers from Riley County, Kansas who raise Simmental cattle, soybeans, corn, and sheep for 4-H and FFA youth livestock shows. Learn more about the Mertz family in this video feature from their farm.
After observing recent Chipotle Cultivate events and noting the missing voice of farming and ranching families in these conversations, Mary Mertz became frustrated and wanted her story to be heard. Mary recently wrote a letter to Steve Ells, founder and Co-CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill, asking him to reconsider his company’s false-marketing impact on farming families like her own. Mary was kind enough to share this letter with me after sending it to Ells earlier this month.
Take a moment to read the letter and share with friends how major companies like Chipotle are causing harm to American farm and ranch families by misrepresenting our communities in their marketing campaigns. Mary challenges other farmers and ranchers to reach out to Chipotle with their individual stories of how the false narratives painted by the company’s marketing impact your families. Share those stories online and use the #AgProud hashtag so we can pass your story along.
Dear Steve Ells:
Have you ever been to Kansas? There are many farmers here. I am married to a fourth generation grain farmer and have been for close to thirty years now. We use GMO seeds to grow our corn and soybeans. We are currently finishing up our 2015 harvest.
I felt compelled to write to you because of the decision you have made to go “nonGMO” in your Chipotle restaurants. I know that you know that foods grown using biotechnology are both as safe and nutritious as those grown by any other methods. I find it incredulous that you seem to think throwing millions of conventional family farm members under the bus in order to make a profit is somehow okay.
Do you know what your propaganda and misleading statements due to the morale of the American farmer? We spend every day working hard to produce food, fuel, and fiber. We dedicate our lives to producing the best for our nation and world. Then we are accosted by events like Chipotle Cultivate that strives to indoctrinate the minds of impressionable consumers with fear tactics and myths. Beginning with your animated Scarecrow film, which greatly distorted the reality of agriculture, my disappointment in your lack of integrity, has only grown deeper.
Approximately 95% of the farms in this country our family farms. My husband and I have personally raised our children next to, working in, walking through GMO fields. We have eaten our GMO grain and grass fed beef for twenty years. There is absolutely no detrimental health issues associated with eating GMOs – as every credible health, science, and government organization has stated. The vegetables and fruits are the same nutritionally as foods produced any other way. We actually use less chemicals today than before GMOs were available. We till our land less often, which keeps nutrients and carbon in the ground. We use less fuel and less water. These changes are significant and help the environment. To have you, a billionaire restaurant owner, suggest that our crops are somehow not safe is simply appalling and unfair.
Please, Mr. Ells, reconsider the message you are sending to America’s consumers. Farmers do not go around seeking thanks or acknowledgement in any form for what they do. They live to farm and they are intelligent and conscientious enough to know what they are doing. We all want to leave our land in better shape than when we first began farming it. We care about our environment, our world, all children, and the truth.
It would be nice to work together instead of to be at odds with one another. You have a right to your opinion, but you have a moral obligation not to intentionally hurt innocent people by spreading lies about what they produce. I would be happy to discuss this further with you. Or, if you are ever near Kansas, stop by our farm and take a tour.
Chipotle Mexican Grill markets their 1,700+ restaurants as having Food With Integrity, despite lacking that integrity in their serving unhealthy burritos to consumers. During the past few years, the company has been called out over their lack of integrity in marketing campaigns, which was highlighted during a series of phone calls with Chipotle’s NYC marketing team.
More recently, their announcement to remove all GMO ingredients from their menu was met with great criticism as media outlets across the country called Chipotle out on the mistake.