The line “food with integrity” in the Oct. 10 Chicago Tribune wire story, “A fresh approach, Chipotle proves sustainable practices profitable in fast food,” about Chipotle Mexican Grill, caught my attention. I’m a firm believer that eating local thoughtfully raised food not only will help us stay healthier but also can help heal our economy by keeping money closer to home and out of the deep pockets of megacorporations. Therefore, I couldn’t see past the irony that Chipotle claims to be a homegrown operation with a “fresh” approach.
The story fails to mention that Chipotle grew into a multibillion-dollar chain because of a huge investment from the McDonald’s Corporation. According to Wikipedia, McDonald’s invested $360 million in Chipotle and was the chain’s primary investor during its gargantuan growth through the first half of the past decade. When it divested from Chipotle in 2006, McDonald’s walked away with $1.5 billion, ready to sink that money into growing its own restaurants, which serve “food” that is rich in corporate greed and toxic ingredients such as trans fats. So perhaps Chipotle is on a better track than McDonald’s, but don’t set your halo too high when dining there. “Food with integrity” is a phrase worth chewing on before you bite into what Chipotle is selling.