Chipotle activism veiled as marketing

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Chipotle Mexican Grill, the quick-service restaurant that says it serves “food with integrity,” is stepping up its activism with a new partnership to promote the movie “Food Inc.” The movie is enormously critical of conventional, large-scale U.S. agriculture.

Through the partnership, Chipotle is sponsoring free screenings in 32 cities nationwide. It will also put promotional materials in all of its restaurants, and plans to include a bonus feature discussing its commitment to supporting sustainable agriculture when the film is released on DVD later this year.

“I hope that all our customers see this film,” Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-chief executive officer of Chipotle, said in a statement. “The more they know about where their food comes from, the more they will appreciate what we do.”

Meanwhile, Ells testified in mid-July before the House Rules Committee in support of H.R. 1549, the “Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009.” In his testimony, Ells discussed Chipotle’s commitment to serving food from more sustainable sources, including meat from animals that are not given antibiotics.

In urging House members to give the bill the consideration he deems it warrants, Ells said the bill “is an important step in driving the kind of change we have chosen to work toward for the last decade, but that too many others have ignored.”

These moves demonstrate that anti-agriculture activism takes many forms, even hiding behind the seemingly benign marketing of a fast-food company.

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