June 20, 2009

Battle of the Burrito!
Fair food activists confront Chipotle at actions across the country!

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

The backstory: Last week, Chipotle and its crack PR department seized on a golden opportunity to promote the company’s brand by hitching its wagon to the hit new documentary “Food, Inc.” Chipotle sponsored screenings across the country that were made free to the public — a nice little targeted advertising coup for the company, really, when you consider the less precise and more pricey option of network commercial time.

That, at least, was the plan… But Chipotle hadn’t figured on the CIW and the vast network of Fair Food activists across the country, who were more than ready to splash a bit of cold reality on the overheated PR party.

Here, above, CIW representatives (including one of the CIW’s newest members) crossed Alligator Alley to join allies at the Ft. Lauderdale screening…

… for an action that resulted in dozens of new signatures in support of last month’s public letter from food justice leaders to Chipotle CEO Steve Ells demanding that Chipotle enter into a true partnership with the CIW for farm labor justice. [“Food, Inc.” director Robert Kenner and co-producer Eric Schlosser were among the original signers of the letter, which reads, in part, “We view the CIW’s struggle for dignity as a non-negotiable part of the struggle for a sustainable food system.”]

Here’s a report: “…. People were definitely interested, many signed the Open Letter, and some even put on CIW pins. We even met some folks who are already allies. One woman told us that she had been to Immokalee with her church, has petitioned, and has a CIW cap. Other people had never heard of the Campaign but wanted to learn more.”

Berkeley, CA

In Berkeley, Immokalee native and third-generation farmworker Max Perez (on left) joined Bay Area Fair Food allies for some very successful bannering and flyering.

They spoke to well over 100 people, quickly running out of flyers and ending up walking the line with the banner, talking to people one-on-one.

Atlanta, GA

Fair Food activists hit theaters and talked to moviegoers across the country, building awareness…

Orlando, FL

… collecting signatures…

Baltimore, MD

… and raising the Fair Food banner…

Houston, TX

… anywhere and everywhere Chipotle sponsored screenings.

Kansas City, MO

Philadelphia, PA

Chicago, IL

In Chicago, longtime activists showed their organizing mettle, catching audience members coming and going. Here they staked out a high visibility position inside the theater for the banner before the show…

… and later flyered moviegoers as they left the show, “getting a letter into everybody’s hand.”

Denver, CO

But the Denver Fair Food crew was not to be outdone. Denver is home to Chipotle corporate headquarters, and Denver Fair Food activists have done an admirable job taking the fight all the way to the top. Here, part of the Denver crew deploys its color (yes, color!) banner outside the theater….

… while still more Denver Fair Food members engage the crowd in dialouge about farm labor exploitation.

As it turns out, the Denver crew had an interesting experience that evening, which they are blogging about as we speak. Check back soon for more on their eventful action, and for more pictures as reports continue to make their way in from cities across the country where Fair Food activists squared up with Chipotle in a battle for the truth.