Thursday, October 13, 2011

Supporting Family Farmers: Willie Nelson, Karen O, and Chipotle

Screenshot from the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation

As reported last night on our Facebook page, The Chipotle Cultivate Foundation has released a short-film in conjunction with its annual Boorito fundraising efforts. For folks who don't have a Chipotle near their town: Chipotle is a burrito restaurant which bucks the norms by not offering a drive-thru window and, most importantly, by sourcing its food from sustainable producers and, when possible, from local farmers. I'll include more information about the Foundation below:
The Chipotle Cultivate Foundation is committed to creating a more sustainable and healthful food supply and to raising awareness concerning food issues. This is realized through the support of family farmers and their communities, educators and programs that teach younger generations about food matters, along with support for ranchers and farmers who are working to develop more sustainable practices.
Over the last several years, Chipotle has contributed more than $2 million to help fund initiatives that support sustainable agriculture, family farming, culinary education, and innovation that promotes better food. The Chipotle Cultivate Foundation is a non-profit organization established by Chipotle Mexican Grill to continue this tradition of giving and focus our efforts going forward.
Much of the Foundation's recent work has been to raise money to support organizations working to aid family farmers:, Farm Aid, and The Land Institute among many others. The video below tells a story of rural youth entering an abandoned farmhouse; Karen O (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) covers Willie Nelson's classic "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys:"

I imagine that this video will be extraordinarily complicated for those, like myself, who experienced exactly what this video documents. This is a hard video for me to watch. There's much more to say about the video, and Karen O's drawling inflections, but my overall sense is that this is well-intentioned (Willie surely signed off on this) and that it's part of a campaign that is working to reach the folks who need to be reached: urban and suburban consumers who haven't considered how the health of rural communities directly affects the health of their own neighborhoods.

The challenge, beyond this, is to bring the rural diaspora--those families whose absence is a palpable presence in this clip--into the discussion. As much as we should mourn the loss of these family farmers, we need to hear their voices now, whether they live in rural or urban America.