Chipotle Grilled!

Originally posted on July 23 at http://denverfairfood.blogspot.com/2009/07/chipotle-grilled.html.

Chipotle
is getting burned by the very scheme it cooked up as what it thought
was a great public relations opportunity - sponsoring free screenings
of Food, Inc. - is becoming a PR fiasco.

Food, Inc. director
Robert Kenner and co-producer Eric Schlosser speak out and Chipotle has
to answer tough questions in Tom Philpott's must-read article on Grist.org "Chipotle Grilled: Burrito chain's Food, Inc. sponsorship generates off-screen drama over farm-worker issues."

Schlosser
explains that while many of Chipotle's efforts are great, he
nonetheless "cares more about human rights than any of those things."
He continues: "If Taco Bell, Subway, Burger King, and McDonald's can
reach agreement with the CIW, I don't see why Chipotle can't."

Kenner
likewise, the article states, "made clear that he disagreed with the
company's position on the CIW" even if he agrees with other things
Chipotle is doing. Kenner explains: "I was hopeful that by associating
itself with a film that promotes workers' rights, [Chipotle] might be
inclined to sign with the Coalition . . . And now I'm not confident
they will."

Our cameo
in this unfolding fiasco is also noted: "Chipotle clearly resents such
critical statements at events designed to demonstrate its
sustainability cred. At one of its screenings in Denver, Chipotle
employees barred people
from the Campaign for Fair Food to speak after the
screening-overturning an arrangement that had been made with Food,
Inc's public-education campaign. " After investigating the incident,
the article decides: "In other words, people wanting to discuss the CIW
issue aren't to be given stage time at the Chipotle-sponsored Food,
Inc. screenings."

Our story
of Chipotle's eagerness to shut up members of Denver Fair Food has
really made a splash on the internet, appearing on the websites of the Organic Cosumers Association, the Coporate Ethics Network, US Indymedia, and others.

Of
course Denver wasn't the only city where Chipotle got heat from Fair
Food activists while trying to bask in Food, Inc.'s glory. All over the
country allies of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers took to the movies to deflate Chipotle's hot air about "food with integrity" with some sharp truths about farm labor in Chipotle's supply chain. See the great photo report from the nationwide "Battle of the Burrito" on the CIW website.

References to this PR fiasco are popping up in unforseen places such as thedailygreen or even more surprising the mainstream investor blog The Motely Fool. And the bed which Chipotle made for itself in which it now must lie can't be feeling any more comfortable.

The lesson for Chipotle to learn from its bungled Food, Inc. PR experiment? The ecorazzi blog has these fitting words: "you can't have your 1000+ calorie burrito and eat it too."
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