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Is Hyatt The Next Chipotle?

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The Hyatt Regency’s “Food Thoughtfully Sourced, Carefully Served” campaign has irked agriculturalists. Learn more about how this business is turning into the “Chipotle of hotels” and sign a petition to get Hyatt to reconsider its marketing claims.

My mother-in-law attended an agricultural conference at a Hyatt Regency earlier this summer and found the food they served to be interesting, to say the least. Every food item was labeled to describe exactly where and how it was raised and produced, she told me. She found it curious that none of the agvocates in the room commented on the cage-free eggs or organic yogurt made from milk from grass-fed cows. And she really was curious why an agricultural group would ever host a meeting at a Hyatt Regency.

Don’t misunderstand. Neither my mother-in-law or I have a problem with organic or grass-fed or cage-free or any of the other new, trendy ways food is marketed these days. But when it’s presented in a way that implies that foods from traditional agricultural practices are evil, then it’s time to speak up.

 

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I looked up Hyatt’s foodservice program, and was intrigued to see it centers around a campaign called, “Food Thoughtfully Sourced, Carefully Served.” Menu items include things like organic chicken, naturally-cured bacon, organic smoothies and local sorghum syrup.

This sure sounds an awful lot like Chipotle’s campaign, “Food With Integrity,” where you can buy a burrito with a side of guilt.

READ: Forget Chipotle's Negativity; Culver's Champions For Agriculture

There is a fast-growing trend for consumers to know more about where their food comes from and how it was raised. Conventional, modern food production is seen as “factory farming” and small, specialized niche food items are seen as the utopia.

A simple burger and fries from McDonald’s is seen as a morally-corrupt food choice. Do you want fries with that burger? Sure, but only if the beef is all-natural, grass-fed and organic, and the potatoes were raised organically, with no pesticides, fertilizers or GMOs.

This mentality comes from the notion that modern technology is bad, and anyone who utilizes these tools must be corrupt. There is a certain mistrust between producers and consumers, and the gap is widening through shady marketing campaigns like that of the Hyatt and Chipotle.

Kevin Murphy, blogger at “Truth In Food,” describes the situation perfectly, citing the Food Morality Movement as a big issue we need to be concerned about in agriculture.

In his most-recent blog post entitled, “Has Hyatt Simply Dressed Up Chipotle’s Message With White Tablecloths?” Murphy writes, “For several years now I have been warning the agricultural community of the swift and unfettered advancement of the Food Morality Movement. This movement condemns agriculture and challenges it to explain its behavior based on the grounds of religion, ethics and morality.”

The Hyatt Regency has 508 locations in 46 countries, and Murphy says, “With that kind of market presence, the Hyatt has the ability to influence millions of people every day with a global Food Thoughtfully Sourced campaign catapulting them into the category of the Chipotle of hotels!” Murphy says that Hyatt’s Food Thoughtfully Sourced campaign, established in 2011, has “created a false dichotomy dividing our food system in two, with one side being the pristine, natural and organic side and the other technological, conventional and ultimately evil.”

Murphy started an online petition to tell Hyatt to reconsider its marketing campaign. You can sign that petition here. 

Do you think Hyatt is the new Chipotle? How should the industry respond to this food morality movement? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

 

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Discuss this Blog Entry 14

Vikki (not verified)
on Sep 4, 2014

Aren't the ones screaming about the use of modern technology in agriculture the same ones that use modern technology non stop.....ipads, smart phones, facebook, twitter, instagram....? ??

Dismayed (not verified)
on Sep 4, 2014

I'm not at all attacking modern technology. Much like fire, it is highly useful, when used with respect and care. Uncontroled and now we have a problem. Genetics is utilizing technology to improve species, health, and medical therapies beyond belief. This is a great thing. Using genetics to improve production of our livestock can be a great thing. Using medicine and various drugs to treat disease or in controlled situations to prevent disease is fantastic. Again, controlled. Using various drugs or chemicals to enhance output at the cost of creating other issues, not necessarily in that animal, but perhaps at the cost of the end user. This prophylactic use can at times get out of hand and have wide reaching effects down the line, both in disease resistance as well as in the health of the consumer.

Dismayed (not verified)
on Sep 4, 2014

Amanda,
I am a small operation and have appreciated your magazine and much of the great cattle healthcare info that is provided as well as much of the great management tips and techniques. That being said, I do take issue with a few things that exist in the industry overall. For example, the bickering and back biting that exists internally between the various beef producer groups! Grass fed, traditional,natural, organic and all of the other terms used. In your article above, you talk about the cage free, grass fed, organic as new and trendy as opposed to the traditionally raised livestock which are raised utilizing modern techniques?. It seems to me that the term traditionally raised should refer to grass fed, free ranging etc. In an article in this same issue, the potential success of the future of beef production is discussed and the fact that it will likely depend upon the use of modern technology which incorporates the use of "implants, and beta agonists" in order to accomplish greater weight gain and carcass weights- how can all of this possibly be healthy? All drugs have side effects and often these side effects occur after the products have been used for a period of time, we see this in commercials on TV daily. "if you've taken ........ And have certain issues, call lawyer....., you have a case! Beta agonists are drugs that are used in various medical situations such as certain pulmonary conditions for broncho dilitation. A side effect in this particular use is often increased cardiac events. In cattle, the various products that are being used to increase carcass weights are not natural and after many years in the medical field, I can guarantee that there will be some form of side effect caused by their use. I am relatively new to the beef industry, but am becoming very disenchanted because of what I am learning about it. It seems to me that the only thing that matters is the bottom line --- even if it means the sacrifice of consumer health! I believe in the use of antibiotics for the treatment of disease after it has been identified in humans or livestock. Prophylactic use of these drugs for the purpose of increased weight gain ( $) results in deminished drug effectiveness through bug resistance not to mention what may be caused by secondary consumption of the end product by the consumer.
I originally came to Beef Magazine as a means of my own education regarding my livestock endeavor, however, after reading it for the last 1+ years, I am seeing that the beef industry seems to take offense to the traditional naturally grown livestock growers touting their lack of use of these and other chemicals to attain greater carcass weights. This is what is causing the infighting and back biting- and in my case the confusion of what is happening in the industry concerning the end product that will make Tito the consumer.
Perhaps, what needs to be done, is to listen to the consumer. What is it that they want as opposed to what we want to give them? There has consistantly been movement toward more healthy lifestyles and diet is part of it. People are more aware of what they are consuming and want to be more aware of what goes into their food. The foods that your mother-in-law found at the hotel were labeled - what is wrong with providing the consumer with the information? This seems to be the way of the future!

I'm not trying to be negative or anti-beef. It's become part of my lifestyle, I am a meat eater and believe that vegetarian is a Native American word for poor hunter! I'm just disenchanted with all of the intra-industrial battling.

on Sep 4, 2014

Well said. Agriculture is and will most certainly always be their own worse enemy. We create the Us v. Them internally and now with the consumer. All marketing professors begin an intro Marketing classes with the mantra "The Consumer is always Right" The agricultural community wants to argue science to emotion. Watch TV! Those adds are design to evoke emotional response to product. No peer reviewed scientific journals selling cars and dish soap.

Dismayed (not verified)
on Sep 4, 2014

The whole situation is very frustrating to me. Perhaps it's because of the fact that we are seeing this kind of infighting not only in the beef industry bu even on a wider scale throughout the country. The government is riddled with it to the extent that our freedom and constitution is at stake because of the various "groups" will not consider what the other "group" is saying because "they are on the other team" and not what is best for the industry AND the consumer or in the case of the govmt, what is best for the country and the citizen, who bye the way, pays the salaries of the govmt officials while the consumer essentially, pays our salaries.

on Sep 4, 2014

Interesting I have also been subscribing to this newsletter for over a year and as a consumer it is disappointing that what I want and purchase as a consumer is seen as marketing. The reality is that we no longer want GMO's and pesticide residue and hormones in our meat and food. Growing up in rural Iowa and gradually experiencing the changes as agribusiness took over and a culture of locally grown food and meat disappeared it is disconcerting that this is a fad or marketing.

The consumer needs are changing so the producers need to change. In France hormones in meat and dairy are illegal and there are no GMO's. It is also more than food it is the pesticide and hormone residue in the water and pollution through confined animal waste at processing plants.

There needs to be a cheaper alternative and conventional is cheaper. Personally I have switched to grass fed grass finished bison from South Dakota that costs quite a bit more that I eat sparingly. I am supporting not only a family farm but at the same time restoring the Great Plains.

There are more Chipolte's on the horizon. Many consumers what food products from America not China, Argentina, or New Zealand. I am waiting to see that grassfed grass finished beef in Trader Joes say United States of America and not New Zealand.

on Sep 4, 2014

Deleted

cowmandan (not verified)
on Sep 4, 2014

Dismayed you are correct. Traditional is grass-fed and organic and natural, the way it was done by our grandparents.

on Sep 4, 2014

I agree that there is a degree of inside industry battle between some conventional and grass-fed/organic producers. The problem lies when one facet of the industry belittles the other. It is about consumer choice ~~ if the consumer prefers grass-fed (or a variation thereof) and wants to pay to the premium, then great. The market will respond accordingly. If a consumer prefers to purchase conventional beef, at a lower cost, then great as well. Beef is a safe and nutritious protein source. We are all in the beef business. It behooves neither side to disparage the other.

Unfortunately, the message that gets relayed in the Chipoltes of the marketing business is that if the beef you are purchasing is anything other organic grass-fed, then it is not healthy and the rancher is a bad guy (or gal). This is the wrong message.

Billy V. Stewart (not verified)
on Sep 4, 2014

To imply that Americas food that is so plentiful and wholesome might somehow be bad is not a good message. I will take my Hotel stays to Marriott!!

Jerry K (not verified)
on Sep 4, 2014

Does grass fed then mean "no alfalfa, no grains, no hay having chemical fertilizers and no fungi-, insecti- or herbicides"? Where do we draw the line? When inflation causes EVERYONE to have to increase their income to maintain, we're on the slippery slope to modern food production.

Recall a few years ago there was worry over many of the formerly wide-spread domesticated animals (donkeys, cattle breeds, goats, sheep, chickens etc) that just sort of fell by the wayside? I never heard any of those getting listed and perhaps having US taxpayers supporting producers to keep the breeds and gene pools alive. I'd say THAT is also something to consider. I'm all for healthy food, but who knows where to draw the line as to what change by humans can be acceptable.

One of the biggest problems or at least issues we all need to address, is that modern agriculture feeds millions of people that know little about their food production. And in democratic society, they can and do out-vote the producers.

And they ignore the goobledygook chemical glop they apply to their skin and hair or eat in many canned or other ready-to-eat prepared meals.

Cliff S (not verified)
on Sep 4, 2014

I don't see them making any value or moral judgements at all. It seems that companies like Hyatt and Chipotle (and others) are just responding to market demands and exploiting them for their benefit. If people are willing to pay a premium, why shouldn't a company be able to take advantage of that? Aren't the bigger players in the beef industry starting to buy some of the "boutique slaughterhouses" to also take advantage? The beef industry is not some meek little player in all this. They have a lot of muscle and use it.

GP (not verified)
on Sep 5, 2014

Be careful. Hyatt Regency may cause a major damage to livestock farmers if this mistaken message continues to be presented to hotel customers. The true Nutritional concerns are not addressed in Hyatt's statement.

AnonymousBeefReader (not verified)
on Sep 6, 2014

I think this may be a bit of a stretch. There's a big difference between promoting/selling/serving organic, which many retail chains do, and being considered the same level as Chipotle. It takes several examples of media campaigns to be the bad actor like Chipotle and I'm not sure we should be vilifying Hyatt just yet

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”

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Amanda Radke

A fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell, SD, Amanda grew up on a purebred Limousin cattle operation in which she and husband Tyler are active. She graduated with a degree in agriculture journalism...

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