Recipe for Change: Tomatoes, Chipotle and Food, Inc.

by lana lynne on 7-30-09
The issue of profit-over-people in the food industry is moving into the national spotlight with the movie Food, Inc. and its exposure 0f the policies and corporations that have corrupted the food supply and people's perspective on health.

One of the situations the filmmakers considered including in the film was the plight of the tomato farm workers in Immokalee, Florida and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. They chose instead the equally-deserving-of-focus pork industry. Yet the film's major sponsor, the burrito chain Chipotle, is unwittingly bringing attention to the situation in Florida.

As detailed by Grist's Tom Philpott, Chipotle has refused to join other food businesses with a sustainable mindset (Whole Foods, Bon Appetit) in signing an agreement to pay one penny more per tomato, an increase that would go directly to the farm workers. The arrangement seeks to alleviate the abhorrent conditions of those currently working on the tomato farms. Coincidentally, a month ago, Chipotle received a letter criticizing its refusal to participate in the agreement, signed by activists, food writers, and Food, Inc.'s director and co-producer.

The irony of Chipotle's sponsorship of the film lies in what seems to be a typical contradiction in mass marketing: in this case, the film's distributor and production company decided how to market the film and what has resulted is profit for a company not fully behind the message of the movie.

Nevertheless, Philpott brings up a good point: "Ironically, by embracing Food, Inc., Chipotle is highlighting the whole vexed issue of how America treats the people who harvest and prepare its food—which is exactly what Kenner intended the film to do in the first place."

Read the entire article here.
Visit Food Inc.'s website here.
Visit the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' website here and read their take on Chipotle's actions and the "PR debacle."
Revisit recycled minds' post about tomato farms and slavery in south Florida here.

And go see the movie!
Print Friendly and PDF


  1. Anonymous7:38 PM

    As a sponsor, Chipotle helps with aspects of funding in exchange for advertising/recognition in the film - is that correct?

    Still, their very involvement makes it difficult to want to go out to see the film. A mixed up world we live in!

  2. Anonymous8:56 AM

    I believe the sponsorship is a co-op advertising kind of thing. They pay to advertise on the posters, on the website, and perhaps they help fund some of the small showings. Chipotle is not in the film.

    I have not seen the movie yet, but Philpott's article stated the filmmakers considered including Chipotle as a sustainability-minded business, but wound up not doing so. Exactly what informed their decision is unclear.


Having trouble leaving a comment? Some browsers require acceptance of 3rd party cookies. If you leave an anonymous comment, it may need to be approved.