"The Meatrix" casts an eat-sustainable message across the Internet
An animated MATRIX spoof uses humor to educate the uninitiated about factory farms. 2 million visited it in the first 3 weeks. Check it out and you’ll understand why.

By Amanda Kimble-Evans

The Meatrix's Moopheus, Leo and unidentified chicken spoof The Matrix's Morpheus, Neo and Trinity in a tale of factory farming and where our food really comes from.
Find a Farm,
List a Farm

You can help break the meatrix and fight factory farms as a consumer by eating locally- and sustainably-grown food.

Patronize small family farms and producer-only farmers markets, and look for sustainable or organic meats in addition to fruits and veggies at your local grocer.

Are you, yourself, a small farmer producing food sustainably? Get your name out there for consumers to find!

Check out these resources that let farmers promote their sustainable practices and that help consumers (and other buyers) search for just those kinds of farmers.

The New Farm Locator™
The Locator is designed to help consumers, restaurants, retailers, wholesalers and other buyers find a wide range of sustainably rasied products from meat to fruits and veggies to value-added. Farmers create their own online "page" with information about their farm and farm operation. The pages are searchable by state, type of operation and what is grown or raised. Updates are planned to include a radial search in the near future.

Eat Well Guide
The Guide is designed to help consumers locate sustainably raised meats, eggs, and dairy in their local area, or by online order if there are few local options. Farmers are currently added to the list when they contact the project organizer, Suzanne Stenson O'Brien, at 612-870-3423 or by email at suzanne@iatp.org.
The pages are searchable by location, products, production method and source.

The directory is designed to help people find local sources of sustainably grown food. Farmers, market managers, restaurant owners, food coop directors, or other food-related businesses create their own listing. The pages are searchable by location, source or type of product.

Image © GRACE, Global Resource Action Center for the Environment www.gracelinks.org, and Free Range Graphics, www.freerangegraphics.com.

View The Meatrix NOW!

December 15, 2003:
Critics may have shunned the latest installment of The Matrix—a sci-fi thriller featuring a human race snookered by a mechanized, super-computerized society—but the animated parody The Meatrix, is taking the Internet by storm. Word has spread like wildfire about the clever spoof with an eat-sustainable message, which, thanks to its widespread appeal, has transcended “the choir” and hit the mainstream. From sustainable farming list-serves all the way to the Arkansas Razorback's online bulletin board, just about everyone is talking about The Meatrix.

Have you heard of The Meatrix?

The Meatrix opens with a sunny day on a bucolic country farm. The chickens are pecking, the cows are mooing, and the pigs are, well, eating slop. Just what you’d expect a farm to look like. Just where you’d assume your food is coming from. It is here where we meet Leo, a happy-go-lucky pig living peacefully in a field by a big red barn.

But all is not as it seems. A deep-voiced, trench-coat-wearing cow, Moopheus, appears from behind the barn door and ominously informs Leo that the world he knows is not the world as it really is.

“Have you heard of The Meatrix?” Moopheus asks. “It is the story we tell ourselves about where our meat and animal products come from. This family farm is a fantasy.”

Leo soon discovers the picture-perfect farm is but an illusion as he spirals into the “real world” of pens too small to move in, disease and stench—the world of the Factory Farm—where most of our grocery stores get their meat.

“What is this horrible place?” Leo asks.

“Places like this are where most eggs, milk and meat come from.” Moopheus explains.

GRACE goes Free Range

The Meatrix is collaboration between GRACE (Global Resource Action Center for the Environment) and Free Range, a cutting-edge design company with a social conscience. It’s the mission of GRACE to eliminate factory farming and to preach the message that sustainable agriculture is both a better environmental and economic choice for rural communities.

In February of 2003, Free Range developed the Free Range Flash Activism Grant, offering the prize of a flash movie production to forward the work of a worthy nonprofit. GRACE was the first recipient, in recognition of its important work on farm reform.

GRACE provided the goal—to promote sustainably-produced meat—and Free Range provided the vehicle—The Meatrix. Together, they have produced an educational site that receives 100,000 hits per day and had garnered an impressive two million visits just three weeks after launch.

“We are reeling from the response we’ve had,” says Diane Hatz, communications and marketing director for GRACE. Initial response was so overwhelming and unexpected, she says, that traffic crashed the site the very first day it was up.

Getting the public to take the red pill

“Take the blue pill and stay here in the fantasy.
Take the red pill and I’ll show you the truth.”
--Moopheus, The Meatrix

Image © GRACE, Global Resource Action Center for the Environment www.gracelinks.org, and Free Range Graphics, www.freerangegraphics.com.

The Meatrix message isn’t new, but the volume and diversity of the audience it is reaching may be unprecedented. “The point is to offer a choice,” said Hatz. “If people are educated and understand what’s happening with the meat industry, they will make educated choices. And demand in the marketplace is what will bring about the change in the industry.”

Consumer education is the key, but delivering a message that deals with unpleasantries is not always easy. Scare tactics tend to leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. And while it may not be overly difficult to gain nods of approval when talking up sustainable farming, getting the average Joe and Jane to change their habits at the grocery store can be a cow of a different color.

The Meatrix doesn’t take itself too seriously, even when delivering data that can make your nose hairs curl.

“Eeiw, what’s that smell?” says Leo

Moopheus holds his large bovine nose and responds in a nasally voice, “12 million pounds of excrement.”

This is just how GRACE wants it. “My goal is to reach the unconverted,” said Hatz. And that is indeed the audience she is reaching. From college football teams to concerned citizens in Slovakia, people are taking notice and—whether or not they even realize it—learning a thing or two about factory farms and sustainable agriculture that just may influence their eating habits.

Promotion of The Meatrix has been so far focused on US consumers, but a Polish version is in the works with AWI (Animal Welfare Institute) and scheduled for release in the near future. Other possibilities? Hatz has received a few requests from teachers for more educational materials related to the animated clip, and more than a few requests have come in from the masses for T-shirts, postcards, screensavers and other potential message vehicles/revenue tools.

For now, GRACE is focused on completing the Eat Well Guide with IATP (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy). The Guide is a database of sources for sustainably produced meats. Data is still being gathered and guidelines drawn up to ensure those listed meet the criteria of ethical producers and suppliers. The Meatrix currently links to the Guide as an evolving resource for consumers.

Breaking the meatrix

The Meatrix is leading the public by its funny bones to both the Eat Well Guide and other resources for factory farm and sustainable meat action and education. Even if half the viewers are just there for a giggle, they can’t escape the facts. As Moopheus explains to Leo, since 1950 more than two million small family farms have disappeared. That’s more than 100 farms per day for 53 years.

Image © GRACE, Global Resource Action Center for the Environment www.gracelinks.org, and Free Range Graphics, www.freerangegraphics.com.

“But it’s not too late. There is a resistance.”

Support producers of sustainable meats, vegetables, eggs and milk; champion small family farms; eat local and organic; and fight against the factory farming industry. Join GRACE and The New Farm® on the road to breaking “The Meatrix—the lie we tell ourselves about where our food comes from.”