Everyone from late night hosts to #GMO supporters to Bill Marler have taken their shots at Chipotle, many with great joy.
I was a little sad about what happened.
Don't get me wrong, I liked seeing the organization humbled. I was sad that a restaurant with good food and a moniker about "Food with Integrity", neglected the most important aspect of their lives...
They became evangelical about a marketing campaign about the idea of food, not the actual food, itself. The marketing campaign is pure liberal guilt and shame. It's faux activism and for all the wrong reasons.
It's also populism. The food brought people in, but the guilt brought them back... and the shame stopped them from going elsewhere.
People in some circles were really worried about hormones, probably because they didn't know what hormones were, as well as animal welfare, and whether they were spending too little on food. The people that Chipotle's marketing evangelism worked on, tended to believe anything about food, so long as it was negative.
All of this had been happening as Organic grocery stores started to take off. So the guilt over eating animals with hormones or veggies with trace amounts of pesticides fed growth in organic food. Those people could then gather at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's and talk about the uneducated Wal-Mart people eating at McDonald's or Subway, then go on and on about how uh-mae-zing Chipotle is.
See how we really aren't talking about the food - even while talking about food?
Chipotle was too wrapped up in their meta-marketing twister to consider that they are supposed to be a fucking restaurant.
They featured specific brands like Niman Ranch and Belle Evans without considering whether those entities could keep up with Chipotle's demand.
They kept raising prices to afford brands they couldn't even secure a reliable supply of, while at the same time substituting brands like Tyson when they ran out of Belle Evans chicken.
So I guess it's no surprise that food safety wasn't a top priority. Food safety is a culture that you must have 100% buy-in for, or it will fail. Your employees need to know why they are doing what they do. They need to be able to make food safety judgement calls on their own, while managers aren't watching them or when there isn't a specific rule written about a specific scenario.
I don't get the sense that Chipotle has that culture. You can see it in various ways, like how sloppy they are with ingredients in their cold well, getting corn salsa in the sour cream and steak in the chicken. Even after the food borne illnesses, they let cooked meat set on the prep table and not in a hot well or heated cabinet.
I was done with Chipotle for a while, before the food safety scare, because of how their characterization of modern ag, as well as their anti-GMO stance.
A friend of mine told me about a special number you can text and Chipotle would send you a link to get a free burrito.
So just like a tired couple who know it's over and decided to have one last romp, I decided I would have a break up burrito.
I used the link they sent me to get a free burrito:
They now charge $7.50 for a steak burrito! I'm glad this one was free...
White rice, steak, red chili tomatillo salsa, sour cream and cheese. I got a drink and they charged me, because as the girl at the counter pointed out, the drink wasn't included... 🙄
The burrito was good, as they usually are. Remember, I have no issues with the taste of the food, it's just Chipotle's marketing that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Here is an example:
They use real ingredients, not like the science experiments those no good scientists prefer.
This location still has a way to go towards creating a culture of food safety. When I walked in, there was the obligatory pan of chopped up chicken setting on the prep table, but there was also a guy with dreads cutting a huge block of Monterey Jack with a wire and no hair restraints.
Here is a pic of the guy:
Put a hat on.
I drank a Coke with my burrito and giggled thinking about Chipotle's anti-GMO stance, even though Coke is sweetened with HFCS, which is derived from corn, and much of our field corn is genetically modified(all things I'm fine with).
The floor around their condiment station could use some attention:
Notice the conspicuously placed rodent trap.
This facility passed their last health inspection in September 2015. In Ohio, you get 2 inspections a year at random times. I think they're overdue a visit, and given the recent food safety troubles, I'm shocked they didn't return.
I couldn't get a pic, but as the employee with the dreads came out of the walk in, I could see unlabeled pans, stacked on one another without a lid, so the bottom of the top pan was smashing what was under it.
Here is the back of the health inspection sticker:
And for good measure, here's my receipt. Maybe some day Chipotle will stop fearmongering about modern ag and GMO, but until they straighten up, I'll eat at Hot Head Burrito or Q'doba.
It's not me, it's you: