After years of misleading ads painting modern farming as bad, people have wondered how Chipotle can get away with it. They won’t for much longer.
Last week, we launched a new campaign calling out Chipotle called “Chubby Chipotle” and fired a shot across Chipotle’s bow in the New York Post. Our campaign calls out Chipotle’s false marketing and false narrative and invites the public to take a closer look at the realities of food production.
Let’s recount the sins of Chipotle.
Earlier this year, Chipotle announced that it was implementing a no-GMO policy across its menu. Obviously, this wasn’t based in science, and the decision was criticized by even NPR and The Washington Post, which are hardly flaks for “Big Ag.” Last month, a class-action lawsuit was filed in California against Chipotle for false marketing because, despite its anti-GMO pledge, its sodas are still sweetened with sugar from genetically improved corn.
Chipotle has also been in the forefront of the falsely named “antibiotic-free” meat movement. Chipotle ads have included the following: “Get antibiotics from your doctor, not your chicken” and “Did you want antibiotics with your lunch? We didn’t think so.”
Of course, all meat is antibiotic-free thanks to FDA-mandatory withdrawal periods for animals before they can enter the food supply. But Chipotle’s marketing department is happy to imply that basically every other restaurant but theirs has antibiotics in its meat. It’s “responsibly raised” and “food with integrity” slogans imply that farmers who use antibiotics, sow maternity pens, or other standard practices are irresponsible and deceitful.
It’s not just false marketing, it’s insulting.
“Chubby Chipotle” calls out this nonsense and steers the debate to where it should be. Chipotle was recently found to be the “healthy fast food of choice” of Americans. Our site points out, however, that by eating two Chipotle burritos a week you could gain 40 pounds in a year. A burrito with meat, beans, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and rice quickly adds up to 1,300 calories—and that’s not counting the chips.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m pro-consumer choice and trust adults to be able to choose what they want to eat—including a burrito and taco diet.
But at the same time, Chipotle’s marketing convinces consumers that it is a healthy choice—the less processed, local (except for the meat it buys from Europe and Australia), no-antibiotics-ever, industrial-food-is-bad choice.
We’ve long tangled in the obesity wars, whether it was NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg trying to ban large sodas or the activists attacking Santa Claus as a bad role model. And our consistent message is that balancing calories in and calories out matters most.
So we’re cutting through the marketing façade built by Chipotle to create a “health halo” around its food and reminding people that if you eat too many burritos full of guacamole, sour cream, and cheese—even if it’s local and rBST-free—you may well get fat. For people concerned about health, remember calories, not whatever buzzword Chipotle is using.
Chipotle has helped fuel the false caricatures of activist groups from environmentalists at the Natural Resources Defense Council to the vegans at the Humane Society of the United States. Visit www.ChubbyChipotle.com and help keep the dialogue going with a public that deserves to know “the rest of the story.”