Wouldn't it be Cool if Chipotle Said That, Too?
"Chipotle to Stop Serving Genetically Altered Food" is the headline flying across social media, and I finally had a chance to read the article this morning. Wow, really? Yes, Chipotle is ceasing use of GMO corn products and oils. Very well done. But what about other stuff? Have they really found a way to do this, truly? I was wondering about meat, mostly, and I was worried that I’d spend the rest of the day fact checking, and trying to figure out what was going on there. But, there it was, in plain sight:
“Chipotle’s announcement does not mean that the restaurant will be entirely G.M.O.-free. The company acknowledges that some of the soft drinks it sells are likely to contain sweeteners made from G.M.O. corn, and that some of its meat and dairy supplies come from animals fed G.M.O. grains.”
and, regarding their short supply of carnitas to their 1800 stores, there was this:
“We’re working with our farmers to plan enough of these crops we need to meet our supply,” he said. “With pork, it’s harder because we only need one part of the animal, the shoulder, and the farmer needs to sell the whole animal to make it work.”
For this company that has done so much for good farming awareness, meat continues to be the head-scratcher. The statement is all that is there, and there’s really not much else. No surprise, since for food businesses that aren’t even close to being on the scale of Chipotle, there is no clear, current solution to these problems within the system we currently have. So, naturally, Chipotle is not sure what they’re doing about it, either. A few ideas: Why not serve pork shank tacos? Trotter taquitos? Headcheese nachos? Eh? It is fine, and commendable, what this company has done and is doing to raise awareness about food. It is right PR to talk about good food and farming practices, for sure. I am looking to find out whether we are still just talk, or if we are actually succeeding in creating decent systems. Trying to solve our food issues through enlightened business ideals alone is hardly taking it far enough. And if there is any company poised to take the tougher issues on, it’s Chipotle. Wouldn’t it be cool if Chipotle said that, too? Wouldn’t it be awesome if they took all their popularity to said HEY, try a fried pigs ear, and get a free keychain, or we’re going to pay to scale up domestic organic grain, or something like, Please note: your carnitas might be made from a few different muscles within the animal, depending on supply, and here’s why…
Our biggest problems are these: Whole animal use, clean & GMO-free feed, and animal welfare. We see what our champion fast food chain is saying about these things, and it is more or less as follows: We just don’t know yet. I wish they’d said it more clearly. We have big problems, and we’re not sure how to solve them. And so, now that I’ve read the article, I’m left with the same old, nagging voice in my head, which talks endlessly about how easy it is to placate food citizens, because any small compromise within our large, unwieldy food machine must be progress, right? Right? Chipotle is to be commended, for sure, for at least experimenting with scaling up somewhat ethical food. But it begs the question: If a food business is truly dedicated to farm prosperity, animal health, and clean food, should it really become a fast food behemoth? And to serve only pork shoulder, and struggle, still, to see outside of that box, well, it makes you wonder where the dedication really lies. In the full spectrum of ideals, where is Chipotle breaking new ground, and where is it perpetuating more of the same problems: increasing demand for selective cuts, shining lights on the things that are easiest to highlight, and leaving the rest in the shadows? Hey America, stop trying to shove an ugly, fat foot into a shiny glass slipper. It is possible that we can’t marry ethical meat and big business.
Wouldn’t it be cool if Chipotle said that, too?