Chipotle’s Bogus Brand of Integrity

» June 11th, 2012


I’m no fan of Chipotle, as readers are well aware. This fast food chain, formerly owned by McDonald’s, bills itself as a “food culture changing” alternative to the corrupt industrial food system. In reality, the company would shrivel like an overcooked tortilla if it didn’t have immediate access to massive quantities of industrially-produced cheese, beef, sour cream, and chicken.  As much as any fast food outfit, Chipotle is complicit in immeasurable suffering and environmental degradation.

The company, however, has let the tail of marketing wag the dog of business. With savvy cynicism, it’s gotten away with buying pork from smaller farms (and a token percentage of its tomatoes and lettuce locally) and, after hyper-actively publicizing these comparatively meaningless decisions, cashing in on them to win over the bobbleheads who populate the sustainable food movement.

Food with integrity, it claims. I wish consumers knew better. I wish they wouldn’t fall for these cheap seductions. I wish they realized that, when they ate a Chipotle burrito with meat and cheese they were inhaling a cylindrical slab of junk with twice the calories of a Big Mac and more sodium recommended in a single day by the government’s RDA. I wish opponents of factory farming knew that they were perpetuating factory farming when they fell for the Chipotle welfare wash. I wish they knew these things, and acted upon them. But evidently they don’t and they haven’t.

Today, the trade publication Nation’s Restaurant News reported that Chipotle led the “fast casual” (ha!) chains in “improved customer retention.” Joining Chipotle at the top of the customer retention list was Hardee’s, perhaps the most disgusting excuse for a food source on the face of the planet. But that’s appropriate company for a fast food joint marked more by clever marketing ploys than honest and healthy food.


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