By Slow Food USA Intern Reece Trevor
If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’ve gone to see or are familiar with the new documentary Food, Inc. The film is a powerful call to action, asking its viewers to leave the theater and campaign for change in our food system. That’s exactly what Denver Fair Food, a community organization that partners with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and Student / Farmworker Alliance (SFA) to secure the rights of farm laborers, tried to do at a local screening of Food, Inc. a few weeks ago. In particular, they were targeting Chipotle, one of the worst offenders when it comes to work conditions and labor rights in Florida’s tomato fields.
Denver Fair Food had received permission from the filmmakers to table and speak with audience members, but when they arrived at the theater, they were turned away by—of all people—a Chipotle public relations representative. It turned out that Chipotle had rented the theater, along with over thirty other around the country, for the evening. Chipotle, ever the benevolent corporate citizen, was sponsoring the screening and offering free admission to the public. Conveniently enough, that also gave it the right to exclude grassroots organizers from the event.
Frankly, this is outrageous. Chipotle hasn’t even tried to hide its hypocrisy here. They’re creating a purely superficial image of social conscience even as they try to quash efforts to change their unfair labor practices. Denver Fair Food wasn’t deterred, though. Nor were dozens of similar groups who petitioned outside theaters nationwide, even after they had been expelled by Chipotle. That’s the right attitude. Actions speak louder than words—that’s an adage that Chipotle’s executives would do well to take to heart.
Read the full story of Denver Fair Food’s experience here.