Since its inception in the early 1990s, Colorado-based restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill has carved out a niche for itself among health-conscious and sustainability-minded consumers.
It has become quite successful by filling a previously under-served market: those who wanted convenient, nutritious food at reasonable prices, and didn’t want to feel guilty for eating it.
Unlike lots of fast food burger chains where the less you know about what you are eating, the better, Chipotle has decided to offer transparency in place of the smokescreens put up by other chains, and pursuing a percentage of sustainably sourced meats and produce instead of always opting for the cheap, but often environmentally disastrous ingredients found on most fast food menus.
Such an apparent emphasis on sustainability made Chipotle’s most recent bid for transparency all the more startling. Chipotle recently turned heads by admitting their use of Genetically Modified Organisms, commonly referred to as GMOs.
So why is the use of GMOs incompatible with Chipotle’s philosophy? What’s wrong with GMOs?
Well, that depends on who you ask. The biotech companies responsible for the development of GMOs (Monsanto, Dupont, etc) claim they are working on curing world hunger. Then again, they certainly have a vested interest in propagating such claims.
GMO opponents are quick to point out a more sinister side of the business. First, GMOs reduce genetic diversity. If only one strain of corn is grown, and a blight comes along that destroys that strain of corn, there goes the world’s corn supply.
Plants with more genetic diversity are able to more easily handle droughts and pestilence. The robust food supply that comes from genetic diversity is rapidly being compromised by the spread of GMO Crops.
Grave concerns have also been raised about the safety of consuming GMO crops. While Big Biotech assures the public that their products are harmless, many scientific studies have indicated otherwise.
And, if GMOs are so safe, it’s worth asking why the companies that produce them fight against mandatory labeling legislation so fiercely. While many other countries require labeling of GMOs, Big Biotech has successfully prevented such measures from going through, here in the U.S.
GMOs require huge amounts of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. Care to guess who makes many of those products? If you said “the same companies that make GMO crops,” give yourself a pat on the back.
That’s about all of the time we have for GMO horror stories. Are you scared? I certainly am.
Back to Chipotle’s GMO admission.
Company execs have expressed a sense of regret that reliable non-GMO alternatives for ingredients such as corn and and soybeans are not more readily available. The chain says it’s trying to eliminate GMO ingredients from its menu, but that doing so is easier said than done.
And, while their admission is laudable for being voluntary, especially at a time when many chains would rather dodge questions about their ingredients, the fact that even companies attempting to avoid GMOs are having a tough time doing so is startling.
At Laughing Planet, we only serve non-GMO corn chips, and organic soy products. And, we do our best to make sure everything on your plate has a history you’ll feel good about eating.
[Photo Credit: inhabitat]