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  • Writer's pictureSecond Opinion Magazine

Farmed and Dangerous: A Film About Big Agriculture vs. Sustainable Agriculture

In February of this year, Chipoltle Mexican Grill launched the first episode of their four-part webisode called Farmed and Dangerous.  The film uses comedy to underscore worrisome Big Food practices while also highlighting the benefits of sustainable agriculture. All four parts of the film can be viewed for free on Hulu at Each episode is about twenty-two minutes.

Chipoltle made the film hoping to motivate people to think about where their food comes from, and the company views its efforts to promote sustainable agriculture and the humane treatment of animals as “values integration.” Chipoltle began to change the types of foods used in its business about a year or so ago, after a food blogger complained that the company did not offer a list of the ingredients used in its products. Soon after, Chipoltle called the blogger, and then the company began listing all its ingredients and then began using some different, healthier ingredients.

In the film, a fictitious industrial agriculture company called Animoil invents and starts feeding cattle “petropellets,” which ironically are made from petroleum directly rather than the meat being produced via the oil consumption required to raise, process, and ship meat to the consumer. There’s only one problem with the cattle eating the petropellets: it causes the animals to spontaneously combust. Animoil doesn’t care, though, because it will be a huge money-saving method for them overall.

The episodes explore, through satire, the basic arguments from both camps, Big Ag claiming sustainable agriculture can never feed everyone in the world, and the sustainable ag folks saying that there are hidden costs to society and to individuals in the current practices of industrial farming. The issue of why Big Ag so greatly uses antibiotics is mentioned too.

Dr. Joseph Mercola states that of the meat and poultry sold in your local supermarket, most is coming to you compliments of Big Ag. “If it wasn’t raised in a factory farm, it will typically bear a clear label stating it’s ‘grass-fed’ or ‘USDA 100% organic.’” Because the animals are raised in very crowded conditions, many of them become ill. That is why Big Ag needs to give the animals antibiotics, and to make it easier, even the healthy animals receive the antibiotics. The antibiotics and other additives get transferred to you when you eat meat that comes from industrial agriculture.

In a study released in 2011, Mercola says, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) “found antibiotic-resistant bacteria in 81 percent of ground turkey, 69 percent of pork chops, 55 percent of ground beef, and 39 percent of raw chicken.” The Centers for Disease Control report that two million Americans contract illnesses related to antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year.  The lead researcher of the EWG study warned that spreading antibiotic resistance “threatens to bring on a post-antibiotic era where important medicines critical to treating people could become ineffective.”

To assure that you and your family are eating healthy meat and other foods, be sure to purchase it from local, organic farms that grass feed the animals and treat them humanely. Also, seek to support local sustainable agriculture through farmers markets, community supported agriculture, and even growing your own food!

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