Chipotle’s recent announcement that they were working on ways to eliminate GMOs from their food, which is in accordance with their historic philosophy, has apparently given rise to plentiful media criticism. Most of the criticism takes the form of ridicule and accuses Chilpotle’s of fear-mongering and “bad science.” The old arguments in favor of GMOs are in evidence, such as claiming that biotechnology will feed the world’s growing population, which has been shown to be false. Another argument is that their food is, in essence, bad for you, which is obvious, but fast food will remain, which shouldn’t preclude any efforts to make it more healthy. Critics also are calling this move a gimmick to increase profit, but Steve Ells, founder of Chipotle’s, has been consistent from the beginning in his mission statement, which is that “We decided long ago that we didn’t want Chipotle’s success to be tied to the exploitation of animals, farmers, or the environment.”
In fact, many restaurants and retail establishments have been making changes and announcements of late regarding the phasing out of antibiotics (Walmart), or the use of humanely treated beef for burgers (Carl’s Jr.), without much push back, other than to say Carl’s Jr.’s ads are sexist, and that Walmart’s announcement asks for, rather than demands, less antibiotic use in farm animals. One of the main reasons restaurants and food retailers are making these changes is to bolster their bottom lines in this capitalistic society. Every year the National Restaurant Association conducts a poll and releases the information in a “What’s Hot” publication. For the past two years, at least, this industry guideline, essentially, shows that people want “sustainable” food which is locally sourced. Restaurants are wise to pay attention to this information whether or not it has any basis in science. MacDonald’s has notoriously lost market share in the U.S., but flourishes in Europe where GMOs are banned. And surely most businesses by now are aware that the vast majority of Americans are in favor of labeling foods that contain GMOs, which indicates a proclivity to avoid such foods.
And Chipotle’s is not Walmart. By U.S. standards, it’s not a large operation, making the over-sized negative media response puzzling. I think then, that given the media abuse, Chipotle’s move is significant. What it indicates is that Monsanto’s grip on the federal government and its ability thus far to prevent labeling laws is becoming irrelevant. If businesses are pressured by the public to provide non-GMO products, they are going to comply. This beginning move by Chipotle’s could very well be the bellwether of the anti-GMO movement, and Monsanto certainly sees this very clearly. The business decision of Carl’s Jr. to provide a “clean” burger requires an importation of cattle from Australia, which most certainly will force the U.S. beef industry to reconsider its practices. If Chipotle’s can survive the media assault, and it will, other companies will follow in their footsteps. As more people become educated about the potential dangers of GMOs to their health and the real dangers of GMOs to the environment, the cost to food companies of ignoring the growing consumer demand for non-GMO products will be dire. The threat posed by Chipotle’s to agribusiness is that if it can gain market share and admiration from their decision to ban GMOs from their food, and give consumers what they want, it puts sellers of fast and processed foods in a negative light.
Kraft, Nestle, et al. are not going to sit back and allow their market shares to sink. They have no particular allegiance to agribusiness, and exist only to make money. If the public wants non-GMO foods and are willing to pay for them, then that’s the trend of the future. It certainly won’t happen overnight, but the overwrought media response indicates, perhaps, the beginning of the end of GMOs. Capitalism saves the world, yet again.
Recipe of the Week
Summer is fast approaching and the grill will be more often employed to provide dinner. This sandwich is fast and easy and tastes wonderful. Best to use charcoal for the flavor.
Faux Gryos with Yogurt Cucumber Sauce
1 lb. ground lamb
1 tbls. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
Mix all of the above and form into four patties. Chill until the grill is ready.
1.5 cups plain yogurt
1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbls. chopped fresh mint (optional)
Mix all of the above.
Grill the patties over a hot grill for about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Make the sandwiches with pita, adding the sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion.