Fiona Apple Takes On Factory Farming With a Haunting Cover

A new video the singer made with Chipotle offers a Grimm fairytale-like look at the industrial food system.

Clip from the Fiona Apple and Chipotle video collaboration about factory farming. (Photo: YouTube)

Sep 12, 2013· 0 MIN READ
Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor.

Fiona Apple may sing hauntingly about being a hot knife cutting butter on the closing track of her latest record, The Idler Wheel, but dairy remains solely in the realm of metaphor for the vegan singer.

Yesterday saw Apple taking her food politics to the web in the form of a new video she made with Chipotle. In it, she gives a plaintive air to the lyrics of “Pure Imagination,” which Gene Wilder originally sang in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. The tone shifts, thanks to Apple’s musical interpretation, but the sad magic of the video comes from the contrast with the visuals: a silent narrative of an animated scarecrow farmer discovering what lays behind the supermarket pastoral branding of a big food company. There’s an industrial factory hiding beyond a welcoming red barn door. Inside, the scarecrow sees artificially fattened chickens, caged livestock, and drone-like crows working over parched fields; “100% Beef-ish” is the label stamped on packages that come off the factory’s conveyor belt.

Things brighten up—if you want to change the world, there’s nothing to it—when the scarecrow returns to a real farm outside of the city, cooking up tacos for his scarecrow friends with freshly picked ingredients. And that’s where the ad-quality of the whole thing comes in (there’s a video game app staring the scarecrow too), but it almost doesn’t matter: This is one of the most emotionally resonant looks at factory farming around.