Chipotle is the black sheep among fast food producers. It spends a fraction of its revenue on advertising compared to most fast food chains and advocates for more sustainable and humane sourcing of food products. Even though Chipotle founder and CEO Steve Ells says they do not want to inform policy on food issues, their ads speak for themselves. By depicting chickens injected with hormones and sad cows restricted in crates they are trying to raise awareness on the realities of how our food is sourced and the choices we can make, like they have.
When you walk into a Chipotle restaurant and are deciding which burrito/taco/salad combination to order, you will immediately notice multiple statements: they serve naturally raised pork and beef, their is from pasture-raised cows without the hormone rBGH, and they try to source pasture raised chicken (admitting that this is extremely hard to find) that are not treated with antibiotics or other hormones. They even say on their website and in store that they will let you know if they experience a supply shortage of their naturally raised chicken.
Now, we do not know the extent to which “naturally raised” truly means (as we know that “free range” chicken isn’t necessarily truly free range). But for a major fast food chain this is most definitely a step forward.
But Chipotle has received a lot of criticism from the agriculture industry denouncing the ad as “false advertising” and a “romanticized” vision of feeding the world. But Chipotle’s critics contradict themselves: to “feed the world” and meet the demand for animal products Chipotle’s depiction of factory farming is in fact true.
Many of these critics fear that Chipotle’s depictions will influence policy makers and individuals with their “food with integrity”movement, but Chipotle wants to stay out of the policy debate.
The fact is, demand for meat and dairy products continues to grow and Chipotle’s vision of a better world where our food is sourced naturally cannot truly exist as long as the demand for animal products increases. To truly advocate for a better good-food world, they must advocate for lower meat and dairy consumption in addition to naturally sourced food, and doing so would mean not meeting their customers’ demand.
Even so, Chipotle has taken a brave step forward in the conversation on food issues, particularly as a well-known and successful fast food chain, shedding light on the realities of food sourcing and enlightening its large consumer base to the realities of where their food comes from and how they can make better choices.
Photo Credit: Patrn/Flickr