By Kyle Sharp
OK, survey time … how many of you like eating at Chipotle?
I’ll admit, I enjoy the occasional Chipotle burrito myself, although I often somehow felt dirty after eating one. Why? Because of the information Chipotle distributes on their Web site and in their restaurants about how they source the meat they use. I have no problem with them using all naturally raised pork and chicken, and 50% naturally raised beef, if that is what they choose to do. It’s their habit of slandering conventional American agriculture in the process that doesn’t sit so well.
On the Chipotle Web site, the company touts the idea of making “Food With Integrity.” The site states: “Food
With Integrity is a philosophy solidly based on a foundation of not exploiting animals, the environment or people.”
The not-so-hidden message there is that most U.S. farmers, those that produce more than 95% of the meat and animal products produced in this country, apparently do exploit animals, the environment and people.
Starting to understand where my queasy feeling is coming from?
Diving deeper into the Chipotle Web site, you can find this little tidbit of information about pork production that reads pretty much like something you’d find on a site for PETA or the folks at the Humane Society of the
United States (HSUS):
“Most pigs do not spend their lives on open pastures, but live in Concentrated Animal Feed Operations,
or CAFOs. The conditions in a CAFO are bad, even horrendous. In many ways, they look more like factories than farms. Pigs are crowded so closely with other pigs that they must be given antibiotics from a young age to avoid the spread of infection. … Pigs raised in these “factory farm” conditions, about 95% of all of the pigs raised in this country, often don’t even have room to turn around in their crates, let alone experience the outdoors. It’s stressful and inhumane for them, and it’s surely not healthy for us either.”
The Chipotle site touts chickens raised without antibiotics, fed vegetarian feed and having “more room to move about than in conventional chicken operations.” Their ideal beef has no added growth hormones, no antibiotics and is also fed a diet free of animal byproducts.
The dairy industry also is a target: “The cheese and the sour cream at all of our restaurants is free of the synthetic growth hormone rBGH. We’re not scientists, but ingesting hormones with our crispy tacos just doesn’t seem like a good idea.”
News flash folks, all milk has hormones in it, whether they are natural or synthetic, and the hormone added with rBST cannot be scientifically distinguished from naturally occurring BST in milk. The Chipotle Web site also has a link touting the movie “Food Inc.” and encouraging Chipotle customers to see it.
Needless to say, Food Inc. does not paint a very favorable picture of modern U.S. agriculture.
But here is the final straw. Just two days before writing this column, I got an e-mail saying Chipotle was endorsing the Ohio efforts of HSUS to hijack the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board and obliterate Ohio agriculture via the overly restrictive, non-scientific initiative they are hoping to put on the November ballot. I had to see for myself, so I went to the effort’s Web site, www.ohiohumane.com, and sure enough. There, listed under business endorsements is Chipotle and their more than 100 locations in Ohio.
Somebody please enlighten me. How short-sighted is it for a business that relies heavily on selling meat and animal products to endorse the efforts of an animal rights group, HSUS, whose ultimate goal is to end the human consumption of meat and animal products?
Raise it in a barn, on pasture, give it a numbered ear tag or name it “George,” they don’t really care how it’s done. They don’t want you eating or drinking it … period. It’s like saying, “Here Chipotle folks is a finely crafted noose. Why don’t you climb up on one of your restaurant tables, throw the rope over a rafter and leap.”
OK, maybe I’m getting a bit carried away, but you see my point.
For years, there was a Baja Fresh Mexican restaurant just down the street from our Columbus office that made very yummy burritos, just like Chipotle does. They closed about a year ago. Oh how I wish they were still open.
What does your survey say?