The relationship between fast food and ethical eating is more estranged than lovey-dovey. That's no surprise, because it's next to impossible to churn out $2 burgers without some serious issues on the supply side.
Chipotle, however, isn't your average nugget-peddling purveyor. The burrito chain has pledged its commitment to local sourcing, humanely raised meats, and "food with integrity." And no, it's not owned by McDonald's -- can we put that rumor to rest?
The burrito chain recently delved into the world of entertainment. First, there were animated short films/commercials Back to the Start and The Scarecrow. Now, Chipotle is working on a satirical web series titled Farmed and Dangerous, and it launches on Hulu February 17. Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold gave us the inside scoop on the new show.
Exploding cows, petro-pellets, conspiracies, mass media -- all are facets of the Farmed and Dangerous story.
"The underlying idea of these is to create content that is entertaining and that draws people in under the auspices of entertainment, where the content is designed to make them more serious about food and where food comes from," Arnold says.
And seriously, is it so far-fetched to believe Big Ag would feed petro-pellets to cows?
The series stars noted character actor Ray Wise (Laura Palmer's dad) as Buck, industrial food's spin doctor. (If you don't know who Laura Palmer is, stop what you're doing and watch Twin Peaks, like, now.)
Other characters include his daughter, Sophia, also under his employ; Chip, a charmer who reps sustainable farming; Mick, the king of Big Ag; and Zack, Mick's son, Sophia's boyfriend, and another Big Ag advocate.
Companies are quickly realizing entertainment is the way into people's hearts and minds (Blackfish, anyone?). And food is an issue at the forefront.
"In the world of fast food, so heavily dominated by cheap, low-quality ingredients and industrialized food production, we're going entirely the other way," Arnold says.
Chipotle has partnerships with more than 50 local farms across the United States to source as many ingredients as possible. The company is committed to eliminating genetically modified foods -- and is transparent about the GM foods it does use. It also strives to use naturally raised meat and dairy from pasture-raised cows, and more.
Eating at Chipotle may be a step down from your backyard garden, but it's certainly a step in the right direction. And Farmed and Dangerous might help a few more people get a grasp on what they're shoving into their gullets.
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Did we mention there's also the potential for free food?
The initial four-episode season will launch Monday, February 17, on Hulu and Hulu Plus. One 30-minute episode will be released weekly.