Chipotle: The Dishonest Scarecrow

I am a huge chipotle fan as I’m sure so many of you are. I have always valued chipotle and their quality ingredients. I have appreciated chipotle’s “food with integrity” mantra and have never doubted the truth in their “no hormone induced” chicken beef and pork as they advertise in all of their locations. Chipotle (owned by Mcdonald’s) has advertised itself as a non main stream, anti industrial food production restaurant chain.  Chipotle which targets the Millennial generation in its campaigns, does not advertise on TV, and instead uses mostly social media advertisements, as Millenials view TV advertising as mainstream and  pushy. Chipotle recently started a marketing campaign, using both a video on youtube and an app game. The video, a work of beautiful animation and music, shows a scarecrow, ( who is slowly becoming Chipotle’s new mascot) in a  sad fantasy world where Scarecrows are slaves to Crows who are the has producers of all food.  Chickens are shown growing larger after being shot with injections of hormones.  The scarecrow longs to find an alternative to this unhealthy world. The scarecrow picks a pepper in rural farmland and is inspired and starts his own healthy natural burrito stand. The video ends with a banner that says “Cultivate a Better World” over the scarecrow’s stand. The entire video doesn’t even mention the word Chipotle in it once.

The truth is that Chipotle’s ingredients are not as pure as they claim to be. Chipotle uses GMO’s in many of it’s foods, and while there still is honesty in the company in that it tells you which ingredients are genetically modified organisms, it is still using them. There are many concerns and doubts about Genetically modified organisms and its effect on human health and environmental sustainability. People were upset that the ad seems to advertise the “better world” or Chipotle as an all natural non meat using company in the video, when in reality meat is a main component of the success that chipotle has experienced.

For a company that prides itself on its “honesty” you’ll find that there isn’t much transparency regarding who the company’s suppliers are, what these animals are fed, and where chipotle is getting its meat. Chipotle, which has its own website has very vague information on its products. For example, when you enter the website, click on animals, and then click on pork, Chipotle gives a brief over view about pigs that suffer mistreatment and intake many antibiotics thus making them unnatural, Chipotle then goes on to say ” There are ranchers whose pigs are raised outside or in deeply bedded pens, are never given antibiotics and are fed a vegetarian diet. It’s the way animals were raised 50 years ago before huge factory farms changed the industry. We believe pigs that are cared for in this way enjoy happier, healthier lives and produce the best pork we’ve ever tasted. We call this style of ranching naturally raised, and since 2001, we have sourced 100% of our pork from producers who follow these guidelines.” But does chipotle ever actually say where the pigs are located? On what farms? by which specific suppliers? Customers want more transparency and truth from Chipotle. As a  company that prides itself on its organic honesty, it really isn’t being so honesty recently




5 thoughts on “Chipotle: The Dishonest Scarecrow

  1. I too am a huge fan of Chipotle and was recently in a class in which we discussed the company and its food with integrity program. The reason that Chipotle fails to provide transparency is as a result of there attempt to support local farms. While this was set up with good intentions and in most cases is effectively carried out some local farmers fall victim to modifying their animals in an attempt to increase sales.

  2. When we dig into the “labeling wars” about organic, for example, it is sometimes such a stringent level that many smaller farmers can’t afford to do it.

    I think “locally raised” is an attempt by Chipotle to support farmers who are trying to do the right thing.

    You are right to raise concerns about transparency. Ultimately, if Chipotle is a middleman between smaller producers and eaters, it’s reputation and success will come from the quality of those relationships.

  3. Personally I would like to believe that Chipotle is not just lying to us about the ingredients they use despite the fact that they do not specifically say where they get their food from. The restrictions on being organic are pretty tight as can be seen on the FDA’s website[1]. Likely not every local supplier they use meets the standard of “organic”, so they have to choose their words carefully and call their food “locally grown”

    Since Chipotle uses local farms as much as possible, and there are over nine hundred Chipotle stores so it would be pretty complicated on Chipotle’s end to have a list of farm sources for every single store available, since likely each store has a different supplier. So I will have to disagree with the title of the post, which implies that Chipotle is being “dishonest”. There is no proof at this point that Chipotle has lied to its customers. They just do not clearly prove the veracity of all of their claims either. However, a few are supported on the Chipotle website, such as the fact that they use 100% recycled napkins in their stores, which saves over 22 million gallons of water use per year [2].

    As a side note, I would like to add to Carly’s analysis of the Chipotle advertisement. I found it quite interesting that they chose to have Fiona Apple do a haunting cover of “Pure Imagination” to be the music to accompany the advertisement. For those unfamiliar, this song is from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” which is a movie that alludes to the hidden dark side of big business food production. Chipotle is advertizing that they want to be the “anti-Wonka” in a way.

    [1] FDA. “Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide.” Labeling Guide. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2013. .

    [2] Chipotle. “Food with Integrity Facts.” N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2013. .

  4. I think that Chipotle’s mission and marketing is a step in the right direction. The company’s success also encourages other chain restaurants to raise the bar. I think while some customers (or academics) want complete transparency the general consumer will settle with what Chipotle provides. At the very least I see other corporations adopting sustainability and integrity standards like Chipotle in order to reel in customers.

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