Chipotle, I'm Calling You Out

Chipotle, as a small-town girl raised on a dairy farm, a past 4-H and FFA member, and current agriculture major in college, I have a lot of problems with how you do business. I'll admit, you know how to appeal to your audience. You keep all your stores in high-population areas where your customers are generations unattached from the farm. You keep your products packaged in green and earthy prints to make them look healthy. You advert with vague language, and make sure to mislead your customers into believing that eating your food somehow makes them good tenants of this world. Unfortunately, some of us see beyond your marketing ploys. I'm one of them, and I'm here to break down your "Food with Integrity." Remember that these are your words fresh off your website. I'm just exposing what they really mean.

Whole or Nothing: Real ingredients just taste better

I can give credit where credit is due. You claim that you don't use artificial flavors or fillers, and that is a good thing. Just realize that this is only something to brag about in meat. No one uses artificial flavors or fillers on vegetables. Nobody's lettuce has artificial flavors in it. You also claim that you source from farms rather than factories. This isn't a matter that affects nutrition. It gives you an unstable food supply. If you contract with a company, they will get you the amount of product they need and can extend their reach to more farms if there is a shortage in crops that year. If you contract with a farm and there is a drought, you're out of luck. You're going to be scrambling for extra product to make all of those burritos. It is here that I question your business methods. Realize that contracting with a factory doesn't mean your food is coming from a factory. It comes from a farm. Someone always is growing your food. The factory stores the food and maybe processes it.

Culinary Chops: We actually cook in our kitchens

Congratulations. You do what a restaurant is supposed to do. Do you want a cookie? I realize some fast food restaurants may not cook, but as someone charging $7 for a burrito, I expect something to be happening in the kitchen. I don't believe for a second that you are cooking the way you should be. When you had to close your store due to an E. coli outbreak, you were scrambling to change your cooking methods. Something going on behind the scenes was completely unsafe. Now you're getting your cheese shredded, pork and beef precooked, and blanching your lemons and limes to keep things free of microbes. Now do you realize why other restaurants already used these cooking methods? It's not because they want to pay a little extra for precooked meat, it's so that their customers are safe. Some companies like having a good reputation.

G-M-Over It: One strong stance deserves another

Let me start with saying that all food is genetically modified. I'll direct you to the article I've already written about it. Let me also point out that 110 Nobel Prize winners agree GMOs are safe, along with a plethora of other independent scientific studies on the matter. This is one of your biggest bragging points, but also one of your largest lies to the public. GMOs are safe. All you are doing is adding to the media craze that could one day starve the poorer part of our society. GMOs help our world produce more food on smaller areas of land. Take that technology away, and our growing population will starve. Only the rich will be able to eat. As a company full of "integrity," is that not something you should worry about?

Responsibly Raising the Bar

"We care deeply about where our ingredients come from. While industrial farming practices have evolved to maximize profits and production, we make an extra effort to partner with farmers, ranchers, and other suppliers whose practices emphasize quality and responsibility." First off, I'd like to know what you mean when you talk about "industrial farming practices." Yes, farms are growing larger. It's not to maximize profit, but for there to be a profit. The only reason the small farms you buy from can stay afloat is because they are organic farms, and can charge $5 for a potato. When you buy a gallon of milk, the farmer that raised the cow receives only a small percentage of that. Farmers aren't rich. Millennials don't want to farm because it makes no money, so those who want to do the job buy neighboring land in order to make any form of profit. It isn't a sin to want to earn something off of what you're doing. You imply that the conventional farmer doesn't value quality and responsibility, which is completely and utterly wrong.

Responsibly Raising the Bar: Farms

Here you brag on the long-term relationships that you have with the farmers who supply you with product. If this is true, then why did you rudely cut off ties with Texas beef producers to source it from Australia instead? I didn't know beef traveling 8,000 miles was local. You also brag on raising your crops on nutrient-rich soils. As a major in crop science, I can safely say this is not something to be proud of. Do you know what happens if the soil isn't nutrient rich? Plants don't grow. I'm not sure what your argument even is here. You brag on using farms that rotate crops on their land, rather than planting the same crop on the same land over and over (which you incorrectly call a monoculture when, in fact, a monoculture is a field of all one crop). I don't know of any farms that plant corn crop after corn crop. Yields would be horrible. You aren't bragging about don't anything differently. You are describing how to farm. Congratulations? Your foods are no more nutritious than any other. Especially since your average meal has 1,000 calories and 14-18 grams of fat.

Responsibly Raising the Bar: Animals

"We think that animals raised outdoors or in deeply bedded pens are happier and healthier than those raised in confinement." First off, let's talk about the fact you said the words "we think." This really defines how you practice marketing. You think. If any of the ideas you had were proven, you'd say "studies show" or "it's proven that." You wouldn't say "we think." Anyway, animals raised outdoors aren't healthier. Cattle raised in pasture produce more methane because the food they are eating isn't as nutrient-rich. Plus, when it's hot, the cattle have to sit and be hot. Barns with concrete floors and sprinkler systems keep these animals cool, healthy, and refreshed. Leaving them to sit out in the heat is just torturous. If you leave them in a deeply bedded pen, their feces are going to sit and fester around them in their bedding. Concrete floors allow for easy and daily cleaning. It keeps things sanitary. I'll let you believe the animals are healthier since there is no proof either way. Maybe someday we will be able to communicate with animals, but until then, I'll let you have this one point to make you feel better.

"There's no place for nontherapeutic antibiotics and synthetic hormones on the farms that produce our ingredients." Ok. Fair. Except another place on your website says "We buy meat from farmers and ranchers who raise their animals without antibiotics and synthetic hormones. If animals fall sick, our protocols require that farmers bring them back to health in the most responsible manner possible." So are you using therapeutic antibiotics or not? There's no telling. When you say that you're going to bring these animals back to health in the most responsible manner possible, that's with antibiotics. I'll refer you to an article I've previously written on why that is. If you're doing anything besides giving them antibiotics when they're sick, you are being cruel.

Chipotle, you have the right to advertise how you want. That doesn't mean you should. You should take on the responsibility to market fairly and ethically. You should speak words about the agriculture industry that are truthful. Your marketing ploy may attract those who aren't connected to the agriculture industry, but rural America won't fall for it. We will never eat in your store. Moe's has queso dip anyway.

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