As a business decision, it may make sense. But let’s not forget what this really is: propaganda.  And it is intended to mock and discredit the honest work of farmers while Chipotle gets fatter from more profits. The company was once a small fast-food restaurant chain in Colorado.  Then, in the 1990s, McDonald’s became a major investor and Chipotle experienced super-sized growth.  By the time McDonald’s sold its stake, Chipotle was a fast-food success story.  The chain has grown to over 1,500 restaurants and boasts a stock-market value of more than $15 billion.

In the last few years, Chipotle has doubled-down in branding itself as a source of natural and sustainable food.  Steve Ells, its CEO, recently wrote about the company’s commitment to remove GMOs from its food to the fullest extent possible. He said there was an “active debate” over the safety of GMO ingredients; yeah, an “active debate” if you believe that the sun revolves around the earth.  Every responsible organization on our planet that has studied the safety of GMOs – from the American Medical Association to the World Health Organization – has come down squarely in defense of crop biotechnology. Not only are GMOs a proven source of good nutrition, they are also good for the environment.  They help farmers conserve soil and allow them to grow more food on less land.  The only people who dispute these facts would probably still like to hang Galileo from the rafters for heresy.

 

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In an interesting development in early March it was questioned whether Chipotle actually practices what it preaches.  Up for a vote at the company’s annual meeting this May will be a proposal forcing the food chain to create a yearly sustainability report with information on its “Food With Integrity” program, energy use, waste management and labor standards.  Seems a couple of major investors are questioning the company’s “natural” and “sustainability” claims to determine if its promotion of better farming techniques and cleaner agriculture are indeed true, and if so, how is it done and how do they manage it?”

“They’re not terribly transparent with setting goals and targets within the Food With Integrity program,” Susan Baker reportedly said.  Baker is vice president of shareholder advocacy and corporate engagement at Trillium Asset Management LLC, one of the companies seeking an annual sustainability report. “They (Chipotle) could really benefit and improve their credibility around the Food With Integrity philosophy with more meaningful reporting.”

 

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In the last few years Chipotle’s ads attacking large-scale traditional agriculture have largely paid off.  The company’s sales have more than doubled during the past four years, reaching $3.21 billion in 2013.  The stock jumped 79 percent last year. It is currently running at almost $600 per share.

So, while it makes terrific business sense to tear down agriculture while increasing your bottom line, Chipotle’s videos opt for a scorched earth approach. Facts about food production be damned. The chain demonizes all producers, large and small, and related businesses that work hard to feed us all.  They do this in order to selfishly build up their own image. 

I don’t know about you, but I know of a lot of burrito joints in which my money would be better spent than gagging on the misrepresentations and outright lies being served up at Chipotle.

 

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