So what does the word integrity really mean?
This weekend I participated in two Chicago food events that from their titles sounded similar but ended up being very different.
The first event, Cultivate, was sponsored by Chipotle to market their Foodwith Integrity program with family activities, a live band, interesting food and well designed exhibits. There were thousands of people in attendance and at any given time there were perhaps a hundred people standing in line to see an exhibit of Chipotle’s sustainable agriculture and animal welfare programs. I thought it a bit odd that people would get so excited about the living conditions of pigs, but then I realized that the people standing in line had a little motivational nudge because after walking through the exhibit a stamp would be awarded that would eventually lead to a free burrito.
The second event that I attended was a rally put on by the Coalition ofImmokalee Workers (CIW) that used music and theatre to bring awareness to the human rights issues of agricultural workers in Florida. I learned about the CIW’s Fair Food Program to solicit corporations to sign an agreement to ensure fair pay and humane working conditions for tomato pickers.
Sounds like food with integrity, right? Well, it just so happens that CIW was holding their rally right outside of the entrance to the Chipotle event to raise awareness to the fact that Chipotle has not signed the agreement (Subway, McDonalds, Taco Bell, Whole Foods and Trader Joes have all signed). The purpose of the CIW rally was to raise public awareness and to encourage Chipotle to further their leadership in the sustainable food movement by signing the agreement that would provide transparency and accountability to wages and working conditions.
Chipotle’s Cultivate event was fun, easy and comfortable. It assured me that by eating at Chipotle I was doing my part and no further action or sacrifice was needed. But the CIW event was different. I shook hands with people that work in near slave like conditions so that I can pay a little bit less for my tomatoes. I was presented with information on the working conditions of agricultural workers in the US that made me uncomfortable with the source of my food.
And although I actually had more fun at the CIW event because it was so intimate and authentic, I left with much more than a fun experience. I left with a connection to a new group of people and with a conviction to pay more attention to the integrity of my food choices.
For more info about the CIW rally see the Just Harvest blog post about the event (I borrowed their pic to help spread the word)