Monday, February 20, 2012

Chipotle ad criticizes industrial ag but ignores worker rights...

Judging by the responses of marketing industry insiders, Chipotle pulled off an amazing advertising coup during the television broadcast of the Grammy's last week. With a 2-minute commercial featuring a song performed by Willie Nelson and a stop motion animation about a farmers journey from destructive industrial agricultural practices back to more sustainable methods, it stole the show from the music awards, deeply moved many people, generated a ton of publicity and brand recognition, and reinforced its image as a company committed to "Food With Integrity."

But while Chipotle's stunt may be good marketing - maybe even good music and good filmmaking - it does not mean Chipotle's behavior in the real world matches the image it's "cultivated" for itself.

A couple of writers looked beyond the hype and explored the hyprocrisy (or as we like to call it Chipocrisy) of Chipotle claiming to support a better, more sustainable food system while stubbornly refusing to collaborate with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to improve the wages and uphold the human rights of farmworkers in its own supply chain.

Be sure to read these two great article:

Chipotle's Grammy Ad: Great Farming Practices, or Just Great Filmmaking?
Paige Smith Orloff from OnEarth dissects the history of Chipotle's resistance to the Campaign for Fair Food and explains why Chipotle's claims to already be addressing the problem of farmworker exploitation fall far short of a real solution.

Chipotle Ad Criticizes Industrial Agriculture but Ignores Worker Rights
Sarah Damian from the Food Integrity Campaign (not to be confused with Chipotle's marketing slogan "Food With Integrity) articulates how Chipotle's refusal to collaborate with the CIW contradicts it's supposed goal of food integrity by denying a voice to the people - farmworkers - best positioned to ensure real transparency in the food supply.

We'll end with Sarah Damian's words:"So while Chipotle's commercial makes a powerful statement about the current state of U.S. agriculture, a major component is still missing. Chipotle's outright rejection of worker rights in its "food with integrity" mantra makes you wonder if the restaurant chain is serious about making concrete changes in our food system or if it's simply just PR."

And these from Paige Orloff: "Here's an idea: maybe its next film could expose the plight of farm workers and announce the company's adoption of the Fair Food pledge. Now that's an idea that would definitely bring tears to my eyes."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

VICTORY! Trader Joe's signs Fair Food Agreement!

On the eve of 40 protests planned across the country, including one outside the grand opening of its first Florida store, just miles from Immokalee, Trader Joe's signed a Fair Food agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers today. Here is the joint press release announcing the accord:
For Immediate Release
February 9, 2012

Gerardo Reyes, CIW
239) 657-8311

Alison Mochizuki, Director Public Relations, Trader Joe's
(626) 599-3779

Trader Joe’s and The Coalition of Immokalee Workers
Sign Fair Food Agreement

Monrovia, CA/Immokalee, FL -- Trader Joe’s and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) announced today that they have signed an agreement that formalizes the ways in which Trader Joe’s will work with the CIW and Florida tomato growers to support the CIW’s Fair Food Program.

The Fair Food Program is a groundbreaking approach to social responsibility in the US produce industry that combines the Fair Food Code of Conduct – a set of labor standards developed in a unique collaboration among farmworkers, tomato growers, and the food industry leaders who purchase Florida tomatoes – with a small price premium to help improve harvesters’ wages. The goal of the Fair Food Program is to promote the development of a sustainable Florida tomato industry that advances both the human rights of farmworkers and the long-term interests of Florida tomato growers.

“We are truly happy today to welcome Trader Joe’s aboard the Fair Food Program,” said Gerardo Reyes of the CIW. “Trader Joe’s is cherished by its customers for a number of reasons, but high on that list is the company’s commitment to ethical purchasing practices. With this agreement, Trader Joe’s reaffirms that commitment and sends a strong -- and timely -- message of support to the Florida growers who are choosing to do the right thing, investing in improved labor standards, despite the challenges of a difficult marketplace and tough economic times.”

About Trader Joe’s: With the opening of the Naples, Florida location, Trader Joe’s operates 367 neighborhood grocery stores across the nation. More information at

About the CIW: The CIW ( is a community-based farmworker organization headquartered in Immokalee, Florida, with over 4,000 members. The CIW seeks modern working conditions for farmworkers and promotes their fair treatment in accordance with national and international labor standards. Among its accomplishments, the CIW has aided in the prosecution by the Department of Justice of six slavery operations and the liberation of well over 1,000 workers. The CIW’s Campaign for Fair Food has won unprecedented support for fundamental farm labor reforms from retail food industry leaders, with the goal of enlisting the market power of those companies to demand more humane labor standards from their Florida tomato suppliers.

This incredible accomplishment – another important step toward a truly just and sustainable food system – comes after nearly two years of mounting pressure from the CIW and its allies, including students, community groups, and people of faith nationwide.

Thanks to everyone in Colorado who took the time to send an email to Trader Joe's CEO. While that may have felt like a minor or even insignificant act, our actions no matter how small, when taken together, are powerful! Who knows? You may have been the straw to break the camel's back.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tell 'em: Colorado wants Human Rights not Traitor Joe's!

Tell Traitor Joe's: You're NOT welcome in Colorado unless you respect the human rights of farmworkers!

Sign the online petition here: Trader Joe's: sign the Fair Food Agreement

The trendy natural grocer Trader Joe's has a reputation for being ethical and progressive. But behind the veneer is an ultra-secretive corporation owned by one of the richest people in the world that routinely ignores the social impact of its purchasing practices in order to maximize its profits.

The true face of Traitor Joe's is revealed by the corporation's refusal to work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to improve the wages and working conditions of farmworkers who harvest the tomatoes it buys. Instead of signing an Fair Food Agreement, which companies from Whole Foods to McDonald's have done, Traitor Joe's has spread misinformation and paraded public relations ploys which are unverifiable and have no way to be enforced.

According to recent press accounts, Trader Joe's plans to open stores in Colorado as early as April. We need to send a strong signal to Trader Joe's that Coloradans demand that it sign an Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and it will face protest and public pressure until it does.

Tell Traitor Joe's: Sign the Fair Food Agreement now!
Follow the link above to the online petition to send an email to Trader Joe's CEO.