A friend of mine spotted the following sign at a Chipotle restaurant in NYC recently. The company prides itself for serving “food with integrity” and made a splash earlier this year with an artistic and thought-provoking animated commercial (“The Scarecrow“) depicting the sad and cruel world of factory farming, i.e., the conventional food farming practice. Part of its “food with integrity” stance is that the animals who become the meat served at Chipotle are supposed to be “naturally raised:” basically, antibiotic free and not from factory farms.
You would think that a company who so poignantly pointed out the evils of modern day factory farming would refuse to make a profit off such farming practices. Chipotle has other items on the menu that it could promote; for example, this was a missed opportunity for the fast food chain to educate its patrons on meatless options. Instead, the store chose to make a profit rather than follow its standards. This may seem like a non-issue to most, and many patrons in the restaurant probably glossed over it. It’s not really a surprise, considering that (1) the website for Chipotle admits it will source elsewhere when “naturally raised” beef runs out; and (2) the chain announced this past summer that due to high demand, there wasn’t enough antibiotic-free beef to serve at its restaurants.
But consider the following hypothetical involving another well-known chain with a strong ethical stance: Let’s imagine that American Apparel, a company which produces sweat-shop free clothing, decides to source sweat-shop made clothing when demand got too great. Imagine walking into an American Apparel store and finding signs that said, “Sorry, we couldn’t get enough t-shirts made in Los Angeles to meet demand, but we used conventional, sweat-shop methods (even though previously we’ve denounced such practices in national campaigns) to make sure you could still buy a shirt!” I know this analogy is not perfect since AA produces its own clothing, whereas Chipotle sources from farmers. But I reckon that consumers and the media would spotlight the hypocrisy in my made-up situation, which leads me to wonder why a fast food chain can get away with it.
What do you think?