As Chipotle’s carnitas-pocalypse winds down from wild panic to a more reserved hysteria (which is pretty ridiculous considering that carnitas only stars in 6-7 percent of Chipotle’s entrees), it’s important to not only report that news, but to let you understand why.
Chipotle pulling carnitas from hundreds of locations’ menus due to ethical violations of one of their pork suppliers is a reaction akin to contaminated meat recalls at other fast food chains.
Even though Chipotle uses conventionally raised beef and chicken during shortages of ethically raised meat products, the conventional treatment of pigs raised to slaughter gives animals a significantly lower quality of life. Learning this news during a recent audit, Chipotle suspended their relationship with this (evidently, large) pork supplier and pulled the carnitas that has been below their standards for an unknown amount of time.
This isn’t crazy; this is food transparency and commitment to brand ideology.
Chipotle has arguably been a bastion of transparency in the fast food industry, from being the first chain to openly disclose which of their ingredients contained genetically modified organisms (the ever-terrifying GMOs) to openly disclosing within affected restaurants when some of their steak or chicken is conventionally raised. With chains like Carl’s Jr. limping into the all-natural fast food market and the impending FDA enforcement of visible calorie counts, this seems more like a learning opportunity for other companies than a setback for Chipotle.
In a tangential PR move evocative of some leftover holiday spirit, Chipotle will be donating the unused pork from this shunned supplier, according to Director of Communications Chris Arnold. While it would be unfortunate to waste this substantial amount of meat, why is conventionally raised pork suitable for everyone else?
This isn’t just about major fast food chains asking us to trust their McRibs or bacon-laden burgers; average consumers are saddled with the same ethical predicament during every trip to the grocery store, assuming there’s a predicament at all:
I’ll spend five minutes choosing the “right” chicken breasts or steak, but I just glance at the price, MAYBE the flavor, before I throw bacon into my cart. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how the pig that contributed to my breakfast probably lived above a lagoon of defecation from itself and its hundreds of bunk mates.
Buying bacon is hard enough when I’m carrying a small amount of “I’ll start my diet next week” shame and heart disease to the checkout counter, let alone adding the fact that the bacon I bought couldn’t get through the door at a Chipotle.
But that’s just me. I’m sure you go to your Whole Foods or insert-applicable-organic-food-supermarket-here and do the right thing.
If we are in the same shopping cart, the fact that a fast food company has more compassion for pigs than we do is a little disturbing, don’t you think?