"The Scarecrow" – Chipotle Gives Us the "Golden Ticket" to…Where Exactly?

One of my favorite books ever is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Naturally, one of favorite movies of all time is “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)” starring Gene Wilder. When Willy Wonka sings “Pure Imagination,’ it gives me sends me into kid-like wonderment. This week, when Chipotle announced its new “The Scarecrow” game app via the above YouTube clip, I was amazed! The story, the Oscar-caliber animation, Fiona Apple singing “Pure Imagination” got me hooked! Then, I watched it a second time, snapping me back to a quizzical reality.

Before I go into any sort of analysis, I have to discuss my brief love-hate relationship with Chipotle. I love Chipotle because they have delicious vegan options without having to request substitutions. However, I stopped going after learning about their rounding up policy last year. I know they’ve made changes to stop that, but cheating out customers is a bit hard to forgive. Now, hearing about their new menu items for vegans (Sofritos are coming east soon), I’m starting to soften.

What’s also making my vegan heart melt is Chipotle’s mission:

“Food with integrity is our commitment to finding the very best ingredients raised with respect for the animals, the environment and the farmers.”

The company has noted GMO ingredients in their nutritional facts. They’ve staunchly have spoken out on sustainability in farming, food sourcing and production. They are strong in its social responsibility within agriculture and the environment. All the while, they work to serve good, “natural” food to its patrons.

Now here’s the BUT in all of this. I appreciate the story being told in “The Scarecrow.” It ties in great with Chipotle’s mission and purpose. The game and story bring attention to so many issues in food and nutrition, agriculture and the environment that have the general public buzzing. However, some key issues which are briefly touched in the ad and game are being glossed over, if not just skipped entirely.

Factory farming. Okay, fellow vegans, you know what’s up. For those who don’t, be aware that 10 billion land animals are killed for food in the United States every year. Over 90% are chickens. While Chipotle calls out the horrid practices of factory farming including unsanitary conditions and maltreatment of animals, the company is STILL contributing to suffering with its sales of beef, chicken and pork products, or “happy meat.”

I do appreciate those businesses who attempt to promote themselves as producers and sellers of “humane” meat. However, what’s humane in exploiting other species for consumption? What’s humane about murder?

GMOs. Many of you may already be aware of the “almighty evil” of Monsanto. We’ve heard the stories of corporations suing small farmers for copyright infringement because of seed cross-pollination that is beyond their control. Our farms are turning into science labs.

Chipotle’s big on keeping its integrity with “natural” food. They post which ingredients are sourced from GMOs. But wait? The company is supposed to be NATURAL food. I appreciate the honesty, but why continue to use ingredients that are genetically modified, like some of their oils. How does that tie into sourcing locally, organically and ethically? A bit of a contradiction, I’d say. However, Chipotle says they are still a work in progress with it. I hope they figure it all out soon so they can be “natural.”

Human rights exploitation. Workers, especially in meat production, have greatly been exploited. Below minimum wage, poor working conditions, physical and emotional abuse (human and non-human) are abound alongside with cost-cutting and mass manufacturing. It takes a toll and is not often discussed as it should.

This summer in NYC, fast food workers came together to strike for higher wages and improved insurance. Just think of how these workers compare to those in the meatpacking plants? Is it not the same. Not to say that Chipotle engages in negative practices in their restaurants. However, if they are to bring attention to one sector of the food industry, why keep silent on the rest?

As I mentioned before, I appreciate what Chipotle has done with the release of “The Scarecrow” game. It can start discussions, but I think Chipotle should be a full participant in them. You can’t just call something out and then run away. It’s time to get real. Chipotle’s not just selling vegetables, as one may think. They’re engaging in some of the practices they have highlighted in the commercial.

So, while we’re taken to a “World of Pure Imagination,” we need to bring to light that businesses like Chipotle shouldn’t be selling us “golden tickets” to a “World of Pure Contradiction.”

We should all work together to “Cultivate a Better World.” right?

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One Reply to “"The Scarecrow" – Chipotle Gives Us the "Golden Ticket" to…Where Exactly?”

  1. If Chipotle's about integrity like they say, then they need to step fully up to the plate. What I see is “half-stepping.” Who knows the reason why. Not to piss of investors? Not to lose customers? All i know is that you can't say one thing and do something else.

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