Friday, March 28, 2008

sustainable living: viva Chipotle!

A coda to the last sustainable living segment: here is some very good news for local growers and pastured meat enthusiasts: the burrito chain Chipotle is experimenting with switching to local, pastured pork. Chipotle also happens to be pretty easy on the taste buds, so this is especially good to hear. One more excuse to go out for dinner!

2 comments:

Fair Food said...

While Chipotle may care about humanely raised meat, it doesn't care about humanely picked tomatoes. When the Coalition of Immokalee Workers--a Florida-based farmworker organization--asked Chipotle to collaborate with them to improve wages and working conditions for the farmworkers who pick tomatoes bought by the company, Chipotle ignored the request. When public protest began mounting, Chipotle went so far as to allegedly suspend tomato purchases from Florida in an effort to avoid improving wages and working conditions. Apparently Chipotle is more interested in avoiding dialogue with farmworkers than in protecting theire human rights.
See for details:
http://www.ciw-online.org/Chipotle_letter.html
http://www.ciw-online.org/Chipotle_debate.html
http://www.sfalliance.org/resources/ChipotleAFF.pdf

el ranchero said...

As someone who refused to eat at Taco Bell because of tomato growers' rights (and I love fast food), I'm feeling a little ambiguous about this. Normally I'd say that you're absolutely right and that we should withhold our cash until they buck up and do the right thing, but the problem is that Chipotle has already "done the right thing" on a whole array of issues.

To me, this is getting dangerously close to "the perfect is the enemy of the good" territory. Even considering this issue, on the whole Chipotle is one of the most conscientious restaurants in the country (and at no small expense to themselves, I would imagine). Yes, they dropped the ball here, but what do you propose? Boycotting the only restaurant chain that has shown any scruples about our industrial food supply because they didn't also go to bat for farmworkers? You would risk destroying restaurants' incentive to make any socially conscious changes because the perception would be that, if you're going to do anything, you have to do everything, or else you'll just draw the enviros' fire anyway, and since it's virtually impossible to be a socially blameless restaurant chain that's also profitable, you might as well just save your overhead and buy what everyone else buys.

I guess the best way to express my argument is this: on the occasion when you want to eat out, to what other more socially responsible restaurant would you go while you're waiting for Chipotle to comply?

I know it sounds callous toward the Immokalee workers, but I think Chipotle has earned the right not to be singled out. At least they're doing something. There are plenty of restaurants out there that screw their produce growers and buy unsustainable food that we can pick on.