Monday, December 13, 2010

The end of a boycott

I knew this was coming, but it still feels a bit weird for me to say that today I went back to Chipotle and ate a huge burrito with some fantastic chips. I've been craving and when Amanda suggested it today, I finally made the leap and returned to the light. Let's be honest, the food there is delicious.

For those of you still holding out, you might call me a traitor. However, I did some reading on my own over the past few months and while Chipotle's own intentions are not clear besides the obvious desire to sell product and make money, it is clear that they have limited intentions in supporting HSUS. Of course, since Chipotle doesn't in fact support HSUS, I have little bone to pick with them and thus I was able to justify breaking the fast and consuming their good food today.

It took a while for everything to come out of the wash on this issue, and I think there are still a lot of people in the dark, but it was really when I started going back through the compiled readings I did for my previous blog post and then the outlandish claims by Humane Watch on the issue that I realized some points had truly been pushed too far. So let me put it plain and you can do your own reading and make up your own mind.

Last year when HSUS was campaigning heavily (and often sub-legally) for their ballot initiative which disregarded the people of Ohio's opinion, Chipotle was named as one of their campaign contributors. In the backlash that ensued, I became one of the boycotters, despite claims by Chipotle themselves that they didn't financially support HSUS. However, I can now understand where Chipotle's own views did come into play with their donation to HSUS's campaign. While they don't support the organization, they do and have for a while now supported the use of higher standards of food production than are standard in the industry right now. I can respect this because it is a company choice, and frankly, the consumers are paying for it. Further, Chipotle's food prices aren't unreasonable and so I am willing to pay for it as well from a "I like their food and flavor" standpoint. Chipotle supporting the HSUS campaign was just their way of saying that they stand by their viewpoint on animal production and they wanted to put a financial backing on an issue which supported their viewpoint.

Where Chipotle went wrong is that they have assumed many things that aren't necessarily true. They assumed that the ballot was really as well-intended as HSUS proposed it was. They assumed that the ballot would really effective improve animal welfare. They assumed that the lies that HSUS was pushing around about the ineffectiveness of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board were true. They assumed that the methods of livestock care supported by HSUS truly improve animal welfare. None of these things are true or have been shown to be true, and some quite to the contrary. But I can't fault a company for good intentions and they differ from a company like Yellow Tail because their contributions were for different reasons.

And so I ate Chipotle today...

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