Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Chipotle vs Big Agro

Chipotle is a fast casual restaurant chain that has become so ubiquitous that other fast casual joints describe their own themes as "it's like Chipotle, but for [sushi, pizza, Mediterranean, salad (salad bar?), etc]." There is certainly power in that and not just brand power. When a part of an entire industry invokes your product/methodology you become like a Kleenex, Xerox, Coke, Sharpie, and other proprietary eponyms.

So everyone knows Chipotle. They have some power. I personally enjoy a good Chipotle burrito and consequently think about them from time to time (both the brand and their burritos). And I think that there is a conspiracy against Chipotle being perpetrated by Big Agriculture.

Besides the a-la-carte style of building your meal, Chipotle is known as being very publicly ingredient conscious. They proclaim using fresh local produce, humanely raised livestock (non-HgH beef, free range chicken, etc), and most recently they have been quite vocal about all of their ingredients being Non-GMO.

Being non-GMO isn't necessarily anti-GMO, but it certainly reads that way. So who would want to shutter a powerful anti-GMO company? Someone who would stand to profit largely from GMOs. Big Agro.

Let's Talk About GMOs.

Before going any further, I want to take a quick minute to discuss Genetically Modified Organisms. I'm not taking sides on this one because it is not required for this article. But it is important to note that there are passionate people/groups on both sides of pro/anti GMO. It is a public conversation that is still in its infancy and has not been resolved.

GMOs usually refer to plant-based life. Agriculture. In its most simple form a strain of wheat--for example--that has been bred over generations from the hardiest strains (ie. to survive both wetter and drier growing conditions) may be considered a genetically modified organism. In a more extreme form, the actual DNA of the plant has been manipulated in a lab.

Arguments for GMOs: do you like fresh tomatoes in the winter that don't rot within 2 days? Do you like larger fruits and vegetables that take less resources to produce? Do you like disease-resistant crops? Then you are probably pro-GMO. These all sound great.

Arguments against GMOs include the classic "mankind playing God" argument that we don't really know what we're doing and in the short term it seems great but the risk of screwing everything up forever is present. That it's not natural, and that natural equals better.

To me, though, the main argument against GMO crops comes in the form of one company having a monopoly on the entire food supply. Because the companies doing the research and creating the GMO crops have trademarks on the strains and require farmers to buy only their seeds if they want to continue receiving their subsidies.  But you can't control nature. If you're an organic farmer and the farmer across the street uses GMO corn and then the wind blows and their custom gmo corn pollinates your organic corn, guess what: you are stealing from the GMO corn company by using their product without a license or paying them.

I'll just say it. That one company is Monsanto. Check out Netflix and YouTube for some good documentaries about Monsanto and its iron grip on farmers.

You get the idea by now. We can talk more in depth about GMOs later. Corn feeds America. Corn feeds livestock. Control the corn, control it all.

Chipotle and the GMO

Here's where the conspiracy part comes into play. So Chipotle is a powerful brand that is very vocally anti-GMO and Big Agro (Monsanto) doesn't like that. And Monsanto is powerful and evil, etc. So they have been sabotaging Chipotle's food suppliers.

First it was Chipotle's Carnitas (pork) supplier that "didn't meet their standards" and so they didn't have carnitas for a while. Now we get reports about E.Coli, salmonella, and norovirus outbreaks across Chipotle's national restaurants. They are even being subpoenaed in a criminal investigation over these outbreaks.

It's not hard to see that maybe they are being deliberately sabotaged by Monsanto in order to sway public opinion on the matter. Outbreaks like this ruin food companies. Remember Chi-Chi's? They were a super popular Tex-Mex joint until all the salsa had Hepatitis-B or something. Now they are extinct. And what better way to show that non-GMO food isn't safe? Have outbreaks. And who would profit from non-GMO food being shown not to be safe? Monsanto.

What do you think? I smell foul play.

In the near future we will either no longer have Chipotle, or we will see them "Proudly serving Genetically Superior Ingredients."

1 comment:

  1. I just think that Chipotle manufactures these "setbacks" to bring attention to how "responsible" they are. Being responsible is super trendy/popular and brings in the customers. ("There's no such thing as bad publicity.")