The Peterson Farm Bros’ Beef with Chipotle (Part 1)

By Greg Peterson

Many have probably seen or heard about Chipotle’s commercial, “The Scarecrow” and their recent video series, “Farmed and Dangerous.” Chipotle claims these spots are shedding light on the “inhumane” and “unsustainable” nature of “industrial farming.” They try to use the videos to inform people of the perceived problems with the current food system, such as the difference between meat that is ethically raised and meat that isn’t. Their approach seems genuine and sincere at first and is attracting a lot of attention from consumers. I’m certain that Chipotle is doing a lot of positive things with their “food with integrity” approach and to be clear, I do agree with the general ideals Chipotle claims they are supporting:

  • The consumer does deserve healthy meat from humanely raised animals
  • The family farmer is who should be raising their food
  • Ethical behavior should be of greater concern than profit.

What I don’t agree with is Chipotle’s definitions of family farmers, humanely raised animals, and ethical behavior. As a 5th generation family farmer in central Kansas, I along with my family raise cattle for beef production. Our farm is quite large, with an operation of over 1,000 head, and yes, we raise our livestock “conventionally.” That means our cattle are confined in pens, antibiotics are given to revive them when they are sick, and hormones are administered to them to promote healthy growth. These are all methods Chipotle has deemed “unhealthy, unsustainable, and unethical” and are some of the main things they attack in their video series. So……

While it may seem that Chipotle is on the side of family farmers, the truth is that they are attacking thousands of family farms across America like ours that fit the definition of an “industrial farm.”

If you were to Google these conventional methods, I’m sure most of what you would find is negativity. The “Google search” certainly supports Chipotle’s claims. There are many out there who have created videos and written blogs about these methods that are very misinformed, twisted to fit an agenda, and sometimes even outright lies.

Before you read these articles, you should always ask yourself:

  • How many of these people have actually visited real farms (like ours) in person that use these methods? (Most are relying on Internet content and other’s opinions)
  • Where is the scientific proof (not opinions) that these methods are bad?

Nearly everyone who believes these methods are wrong (including Chipotle) are basing their beliefs on what seems to be everyone’s collective emotions toward the concepts, and have never actually seen the way the overwhelming majority of conventional beef is raised in person. I do say majority because there are exceptions where animals are not treated correctly, and I will address that later on. There are so many misconceptions on this topic, believe me.

“Believe me.”

Why am I, Greg Peterson, asking the people reading this to trust what I have to say on this topic? Well first of all, I am a real farmer, and I have been all of my life. I base my beliefs off of personal experience on a real farm and the real, independent, scientific research that has been done on the topics. The reality of who I am compared to the propaganda (from both sides of the argument) of what you might read on the Internet is what should set me apart. As a farmer, I will actually do as much research as anyone into what I grow as food. It’s my livelihood. Who do you think is more of an expert on farming, a blogger from the city, an overpaid celebrity, a giant fast food corporation, or a real life family farmer? I’m not a corporate spokesman, a paid journalist, or a crazed activist. I’m a down-to-earth, hard-working farmer, who isn’t getting paid a dime to write any of this. Quite honestly, I am literally writing this article for the sole purpose of promoting the truth and correcting the false information that so many believe about some of the most valuable people in the world, family farmers.

Furthermore, my own family eats our own beef and our own crops (straight from the field!) and we have never doubted the quality of them for a second. I definitely understand why people are scared of what Chipotle and others are claiming is happening in agriculture and are concerned about what they are eating, but if my family trusts what we are growing and the methods that we use enough to eat it ourselves, then why shouldn’t you?

I’m asking for your trust in reading this, and I know that is a hard thing to gain these days. There is so much misinformation out there anymore. But I hope that most of you have followed my brothers and I for awhile now and understand who we are, what we are about, and where we are coming from. Please, keep an open mind with what you are about to read, because it will probably contradict a lot of different things you have heard about large agriculture operations.

Let’s talk about the 3 different definitions I believe Chipotle has gotten wrong:

Part 1: The Peterson Farm Bros’ Beef With Chipotle

Part 2: The Definition of a Family Farmer

Part 3: The Definition of a Humanely Raised Animal

Part 4: The Definition of Ethical Behavior

25 thoughts on “The Peterson Farm Bros’ Beef with Chipotle (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: The Peterson Farm Bros’ Beef With Chipotle (Part 2): The Definition of a Family Farmer | The Peterson Farm Blog

  2. Pingback: The Peterson Farm Bros’ Beef With Chipotle (Part 3): The Definition of a Humanely Raised Animal | The Peterson Farm Blog

  3. Pingback: The Peterson Farm Bros’ Beef With Chipotle (Part 4): The Definition of Ethical Behavior | The Peterson Farm Blog

  4. I completely agree with this article. I was arguing with a vegan who sent me a link for “The Scarecrow” and many other websites and videos that were basically against modern agricultural practices. It really makes me sad that so many people believe it too.

  5. Greg, Thank you for the recent blogs on your farms. There is a difference in the way you farm vs organic farming. I grew up on a farm of much smaller scale than yours and today I am involved in organic compliance to the USDA regulations Unfortunately science is pointing to the opposite of some things of which today’s larger farmers are doing versus the certified organic farmer. This is a very debatable subject.

  6. Great post! I like how you laid out each point and gave the CORRECT definitions of modern family farmers and animal husbandry. Keep agvocating!

  7. The cumulative impact to human health of antibiotics and steroids in beef products is a legitimate concern. I’m not saying those meds and hormones should or shouldn’t be used – in the interest of profitable production ag. I’m just saying I don’t think the industry should sugar-coat it or counter with a dismissive “….you all just don’t understand how we do things.”

    • I’ve taken my own cattle to the livestock auction and had another farmer who worked there tell me they won’t put hormone eartags in the beeves they raise for their own family, but they “have to” in order to be competitive for top prices for the auction or they get docked on price per pound for body condition, just as they “have to” feed grain because the leaner grass fed cattle get downgraded in price per pound by the conventional marketing system. Something is definitely broken in our agricultural system, and there are plenty of farmers who feel boxed in a system that is ok with giving our kids food they wouldn’t feed their own (oh, even though they have a skull and crossbones on the label, don’t call pesticides or herbicides poison anymore, call them crop protection measures so consumers won’t object while we educate them properly so they will shut up about what they want). It is ok to say something is a mess so you can clean it up and consumers clearly have a voice in how their food is raised as agriculture is the largest way we humans interact with the environment. Farmers who have been led by industry groups and chemical company interests into the false belief that it is an us versus them situation with farmers and consumers needing to be educated are missing the real opportunities for positive change. Those groups and interests even hold boot camps for their ‘social media warriors’ using terminology having to do with the military fighting an enemy, as opposed to simply talking to an customer. Yes, the customer is always right. And, yes, there is a real need for many positive changes in farming. It is much harder to use modern electric fencing, rotational grazing, and thoughtful management to successfully produce grass fed beef that never needs antibiotics than it is to confine cattle and feed corn. Plain and simple. Just because some of us good o’l boys have always done it the easy way like this doesn’t mean we fit the only definition of “real farmers” and consumers are starting to understand that.

      • I’m not sure who you’ve talked to that won’t feed their own families what they raise, but I’ve never heard of that. We grow GMOs, use chemicals, hormones/antibiotics in livestock, etc. and we have never been afraid to eat food from our farm or any farm that uses those methods. Also don’t feel like farmers are “boxed in.” In nearly every case, farmers make the decisions on their own farm that work the best for them. They have quite a bit of freedom.

  8. Thank you! Finally some standing up for our profession and life! So much misconception from articles, documentaries and the like. Have been saying it all along- if it’s so horrible, why do we feed it to our own families?! Thanks for supporting yours, mine and thousands of other farmers!!

  9. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You and your family produce some great videos that I love sharing via social media. Keep up the great work to share the truth about animal agriculture! I linked your post to a blog of mine featuring posts from several farmers sharing their opinion on Chipotle.

  10. Hey Greg! I just wanted to thank you for the great read! As I read each part of the article (which is huge since I seem to fail at reading most articles unless they really capture my attention), I found myself agreeing with you. Being the typical “farmer’s daughter” I know the strengths, difficulties, struggles, and celebrations that come with the farming life. And I must say, I love it. Even right now when my dad is sick as a DOG, he is outside in the elements trying to provide for not only his family, but also the consumers. I attended the Loaded 4 Leadership conference in Denver for the Junior Red Angus Association and learned a lot about beef advocacy. Since, I have really been striving to speak out on beef advocacy. And I’ve loved every minute that I get the chance to share what I know with others. I’m in a vet tech class and get the opportunity to share with my classmates who may not understand how to properly care for large animals by inviting them out to our family farm to see everything first hand. It truly is a great feeling! I’ll stop rambling now. Thank you again! I look forward to seeing what God continues to do in and through you and your family!

  11. Reblogged this on boilermakerag and commented:
    This is a great blog written by a family farmer in Kansas about the misinformation that is being spread about agriculture and the distrust of farmers that occurs because of it. This is a very well written and respectful article and I hope you guys keep these things in mind when you’re reading articles on the internet!


  12. Family farms aren’t the problem. The nine million pounds of beef recently recalled is an example of the problem. One spoke of the consumption wheel from your perspective doesn’t change the fact our food supply is pretty much filthy dirty. That hurts all of you and that’s where the attention goes. Ranchers and farmers check out once that cattle is shipped and there in is where there should be a better relationship. Then, the public wouldn’t be so ticked and misinformed.

  13. Pingback: Rural round-up | Homepaddock

  14. THIS is what chipotle really meant by their scarecrow piece…

    really like your work, guys. ALL of it.
    EMAW from Central Florida.

  15. Pingback: Welcome to the Peterson Farm Blog! | The Peterson Farm Blog

  16. Pingback: Peterson Farm Bros Speak Out Against Chipotle | Through the Eyes of a Farm Girl

  17. wonderful submit, very informative. I’m wondering why the opposite specialists of this sector do not notice this.
    You must proceed your writing. I’m sure, you’ve a huge readers’ base already!

  18. We know farmers are stubborn, but I suggest at least thinking about change. You don’t want to get left behind. If you do want to get left behind, great, then why complain about the people making progress? Just please don’t perpetrate the farmers are stupid stereotype. Please research, the science is there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s