Since the public dust-up two weeks ago at a national food writers’ conference — where Chipotle Communications Director Chris Arnold was called out for the company’s inexplicable refusal to sign a Fair Food agreement — more and more food movement writers are demanding an explanation as to why Chipotle is turning its back on a partnership with farmworkers.
The perennial plate published a deeply moving video this week with CIW member Lupe Gonzalo, embedded above, accompanied by a reflection on Chipotle’s unlikely hard line against recognizing and joining with farmworkers to improve labor conditions in its supply chain. Here’s an excerpt:
|“… It is especially surprising that Chipotle, the one corporation whom you would assume would be at the forefront of workers rights issues, is distancing themselves. They promote the integrity of their food and practices more than anyone — so the fact that they won’t partner with CIW in adopting the Fair Food Principles is especially baffling. The company’s whole image is around Food with Integrity and their focus on ensuring the products they use “are grown, made and shipped without exploiting people”. From Chipotle’s website: “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.”
These workers are the people behind their ingredients. Instead Both Publix and Chipotle have decided to do it their “own way” in an approach that forgoes transparency and farmworker participation. Both have statements about their uninterest in partnering with CIW. Publix issued a statement in 2010 saying: “If there are some atrocities going on, it’s not our business…” Chipotle’s CEO states their efforts in improving the nation’s food supply system are “rooted in doing the right things”… so why arent they doing the right thing in the case of farmworkers?
The thing is, farmworkers rights are a very important, but overlooked issue. Despite all the news as of late, consumers very often don’t consider those people who are picking the majority of our food. By working with CIW, Chipotle would be bringing to light something that is so important. That’s what Daniel told Chris Arnold, Communications Director & Official Spokesman for Chipotle, when we met last week at the Edible Conference in Santa Barbara: “Whether or not you are compliant with the standards that CIW puts forward, the public needs a governing force. We buy fair trade coffee, not because its perfect, but because it sets a standard. By working with CIW, you would be making people aware of the farmworkers who are bring us our food.”
Major purchasers are changing their tune thanks to CIW. What’s it going to take for Chipotle and Publix? Maybe if the two chains came down to Immokalee and saw what its like to be on the other end of the tomato, they’d change their minds. It has definitely done a number on me.” read more
Likewise, treehugger.com weighed in on the growing controversy, penning a post on the “large elephant in the room” when it comes to Chipotle and labor in its supply chain.
Check out the perennial plate video above, and check back soon, as the news continues to break in this developing story.
And in the meantime, have a look at this post from the past, from grist.org, for a bit of historical context on the current stand-off.