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The Scarecrow and the Marketing Beast: How Chipotle’s "Scarecrow" Ad Targets the Uneducated Consumer

By on Sep 23, 2013

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I would not be just a nothin’
My head all full of stuffin’
My heart all full of pain.
I would laugh and I’d be merry
Life would be a dingleberry
If I only had a brain.
 
~The Scarecrow from “The Wizard of Oz” (1939)

 

Chipotle’s recent “Scarecrow” ad has sparked further discussion regarding food production and has left many consumers feeling confused and scared.

Definitely the cutest scarecrow I've ever seen!

Definitely the cutest scarecrow I’ve ever seen!

It depicts an adorable, socially conscious scarecrow disillusioned with assembly line food production, who resolves to quietly rage against a factory food empire by growing and selling food from his personal farm. The film eludes to the mistreatment of animals, the overuse of hormones and antibiotics and government cover-up, and it’s all served up in a colorfully animated short story with all the makings of one of your favorite pixar films.

It’s beautiful, it’s heartbreaking… and its effective!

Even I, a consumer who has talked with farmers and visited their farms, briefly started to re-think my food choices as I followed the journey of our friendly scarecrow who single-handedly tries to change the world…one veggie burrito at time. But after recounting my conversations with local farmers and recalling my first-hand accounts of farm practices, as an educated consumer, I can still maintain that majority of “scarecrow” farmers are still good stewards of the land and that they aren’t working to mask the mistreatment of animals, nor are they mindlessly laboring over their fields. In fact, the farmers that I’ve met are incredibly informed about the choices they are making.

But by all means, please, don’t take my word for it because that my friend is the bigger issue. If we as consumers do not seek firsthand knowledge about the food industry (or any other industry), we subject ourselves to marketing antics that appeal to our emotion and exploit our ignorance.

But, I am here to tell you that you don’t have to live in a constant state of confusion and fear about your food choices because there is hope, and by golly there is help too, and it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3…and 4!

1. Check out a farmers market and speak directly to the farmers

Farmers markets aren’t just a novelty event meant for enjoying a sunny Saturday morning, they’re an excellent way to meet local farmers and chat with them about the food they produce and how they produce it. Contrary to consumer belief, farmers are very intentional and informed about what is being planted in their fields and how they are raising their livestock.

2. Ditch the petting zoo and head to a working farm

Instead of that monthly or bi-monthly zoo adventure to see exotic animals from far-off places, head to a local farm and see a farm in action! Farmers enjoy show-and-tell and are proud of the food that they produce for consumers.

3. Extra, Extra, Read All About it

Now that you’ve asked a farmer all of your pressing questions and you’ve seen a farm in action, its time to (drum roll, please)…fact check it! That’s right! Read about what you’ve seen and heard; and don’t feel guilty about Google serving as your go-to reading source because now it’s not your primary source.

4. Tap into local and national food organizations and communities

Sure the Whole Foods butcher at the meat counter is a wealth of information and the comment section after an awesome article in the Huffington Post is a great way to dialogue with smart and witty folks, but I encourage you to engage with organizations like the Illinois Farm Families who are seeking Moms who want to visit the source of their food through its Field Mom Program, as well as organizations like The Center for Food Integrity (CFI), a non-profit organization established to build consumer trust and confidence in today’s food system.

You see, we consumers don’t have to blindly trust, in fact, if we educate ourselves we can confidently make purchases and hence remove ourselves from the tug-of-war for our coveted food dollars. It’s time we take back the power from marketing beasts that use fear-mongering to scare us into submission!

How are you making your food choices? Who/What is your source of information?

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