Since 2006, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has sought to establish a Fair Food agreement with Chipotle Mexican Grill to address farmworker exploitation in Florida's tomato fields.
Chipotle has consistently rejected this opportunity and has opted instead for a go-it-alone approach that eschews transparency, third-party oversight, and meaningful worker participation. Under this plan, Chipotle will review its own code of conduct, oversee its own payments under its penny-per-pound plan, and verify its own compliance with the changes it is proposing. That's just not credible.
Chipotle's entrenched opposition to the Campaign for Fair Food is particularly puzzling given the company's highly publicized commitment to "Food With Integrity" and self-proclaimed leadership role in "revolutionizing the way America grows, gathers, serves and eats its food." On its website, Chipotle maintains:
"We can talk about all of the procedures and protocols we follow and how important they are – but it all really comes back to the people behind every ingredient we purchase, burrito we make, and customer we serve....
No matter how big or small the farms we work with, it's important that every worker is treated with dignity and respect. As a result, we have several policies in place designed to ensure that the products we use at Chipotle are grown, made, and shipped without exploiting people."
For Florida farmworkers, however, the hype doesn't match reality. Chipotle may have created a veneer of concern, but by refusing to partner with the CIW, the minimal steps the company has taken fall far short of the substantive, enforceable standards that the situation requires, consumers expect, and others within the industry have embraced.
"Food With Integrity" is either a holistic vision that respects the men and women who harvest Chipotle's tomatoes, or it's just another marketing ploy designed to cash in on a fad. It cannot be both.
- Letter from Sustainable Food Movement
- Photo Report from 2008 Chipocrisy Tour
- Chipotle Campaign Research Brief
- Denver Fair Food
- Grist: "To establish 'integrity,' Chipotle needs to stand against slavery," 9/10/10
- Fast Casual: "Chipotle battles new criticism from growers' group," 3/30/12
- OnEarth: "Chipotle's Grammy ad: Great farming practices, or just great filmmaking?" 2/15/12
- Alternet: "One company thinks they've created fast food with a conscience," 2/9/10
- Grist: "Chipotle challenge: Time to back up food with integrity," 12/11/09
- Grist: "Burrito chain's 'Food, Inc.' sponsorship generates drama over farmworker issues," 7/23/09
- The Nation: "Want some basic human dignity with that burrito?" 7/29/08
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