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Chipotle in hot salsa over tomato pickers' rights

By Films For Action / grist.org
Sep 26, 2012
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It’s a long drive from Florida to Denver, but Leonel Perez and his colleagues at theCoalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) don’t mind. In fact, they arrived in the Mile High City three weeks early for Cultivate, a food, beer, and music festival sponsored by Chipotle Mexican Grill.

They were not drawn by a love of burritos. In the days leading up to Cultivate, Perez, Jake Ratner, an organizer forJust Harvest USA, and several other CIW organizers will hold dozens of community events, speak at many churches, and give classroom presentations at all Denver’s major universities. Then, on Oct. 6, the day of the festival, Perez will build a giant stack of tomato buckets just outside the festival to represent the daily toil of 30,000 impoverished tomato workers.

Over the last decade, Perez and others at CIW have pressured major food companies like McDonald’s, Whole Foods, and Sodexho to join something called the Fair Food Program. Now, they’re ratcheting up pressure on the burrito giant in hopes of a similar deal.

“We’ll continue these demonstrations until Chipotle signs,” says Ratner.

Ordering at Chipotle is famously simple: Select one of four meats, then black beans or pinto, then salsas. The company’s politics, on the other hand, are maddeningly complex. Why won’t Chipotle — a company that has gone to great lengths to broadcast its high-quality, “ethical” food — shake hands with tomato workers?

Just as important, why aren’t more people upset with Chipotle’s intransigence?

What the Ells is going on?

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