Chipotle Commercial Leads to a Lifetime of Teachable Moments

The real star at the Grammys this week wasn’t one of the performers. In true Super Bowl style, at least one of the commercials was just as significant as the main event. The restaurant chain Chipotle aired a 2 minute ad during the Grammys that, at least in my mind, blew away anything else from that evening.

The commercial shows a farmer progressing from a small, family farm to a large, commercial operation. Despite his success, the farmer sees how the animals are unhappy being confined in cages and pumped full of antibiotics and chemicals to get them to market faster. His conscience gets the better of him and he breaks down the huge commercial mega-farm to return to the old-fashioned way of raising food, humanely and sustainably.

The commercial itself is brilliantly designed with a “circle of life” theme. What goes around comes around, as they say, and when we provide responsible stewardship of the animals and the land, mother nature rewards us with wholesome, healthy food whose nutrient content outpaces that obtained from “progress” and commercial farming “success”. You may also notice the young baby in the beginning is the young adult at the end, and the farmer and his wife have gray hair after their awakening, a symbolic testament to their acquired wisdom.

The commercial meat industry needs to change; this Chipotle commercial makes that clear. But to be effective, this change cannot come from the top down, it needs to be a grass-roots movement based on a cascade of individual decisions. It’s about making lifestyle changes, one determined family at a time. Stop buying foods that are conventionally raised, because whether it’s produce, meat, or dairy, if the methods weren’t healthy for the plants or animals in question, they aren’t good for you either.

Teaching homesteading to your kids isn’t just for 4-H projects anymore, it’s fast becoming a necessary part of life. To provide healthy, affordable, and humanely-raised food to your family, one of the best options is to do it yourself. Every family can grow a percentage of their own food, whether it’s in a large backyard garden, several patio containers, or even a few plants strategically placed in a sunny window. Many of us can sustainably raise chickens, rabbits, or goats, and even those of us who can’t raise our own could learn to buy products from those who can, rather than from the big commercial farms. Buy local and do your part to starve the beast.

Kudos to Chipotle for their creative genius in smashing big agri-business while promoting such a serious, yet hopeful, message. Their commercial is a beautiful story of transformation, and yet a story of urgency and substance without a sugar-coating of fluff. Meat doesn’t come from the grocery store, kids. It comes from animals, who should be treated well and allowed to live in the environment, and eating the diet, that nature intended for them.

This is one of those life skills parents need to pass down to their children, and the ultimate in project-based learning. Incorporate your learning into living a healthier life, and teach your children to do the same. You don’t have to launch at light speed , but definitely start moving. Chipotle may not have coined the phrase themselves, but they’ve issued us a powerful reminder that, as farmers and consumers, we’ll reap what we sow.

About the author: Jennifer Needham, gardening geek and nutrition educator, is an eclectic homeschooling mom to 5 kids. Visit her blog here: Nutrition Education for Healthy Kids.

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