Chipotle, Whole Foods struggle after GMO food demonization campaigns

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Four months ago, I wrote a piece for the Genetic Literacy Project about why I stopped eating at Chipotle and shopping at Whole Foods. The reason was pretty simple; I strongly objected to their anti-GMO marketeering that misleads consumers and vilifies genetic engineering. I also didn’t like their smug air of superiority.

So you can imagine my own smugness this week as both companies struggle with bad publicity. As a devout capitalist who wants businesses to prosper, employees to succeed and investors to profit, I’m trying to be magnanimous about their problems. But I can only come up with three words:

Karma’s a bitch.

With another round of food-borne illness traced to Chipotle (the third this year) and poor earnings results from Whole Foods this week, it’s hard for me not to gloat. I feel bad for sick people and employees whose jobs are now in jeopardy. Yet I can’t help but think their sanctimonious executives and marketing departments are getting exactly what they deserve.

Chipotle: Food poisoning with integrity?

Let’s back up a little. Chipotle’s motto is Food With Integrity, which allows the company to boast and brag about how great they are. It’s worked because the company has become the darling of elite foodies who often cite Chipotle, which is essentially a fast food company, as the anti-McDonald’s. In an effort to further boost its elitist food cred, Chipotle unveiled a massive marketing campaign earlier this year entitled G-M-Over It:

Chipotle is on a never-ending journey to source the highest quality ingredients we can find. Over the years, as we have learned more about GMOs, we’ve decided that using them in our food doesn’t align with that vision.

Sadly, the website posts a litany of unscientific and irresponsible talking points straight from the anti-GMO playbook such as GMOs are not proven safe and they damage the environment. It also alludes to organic-industry supported economist Chuck Benbrook and his widely disputed study that GMOs increase the use of highly toxic pesticides (it doesn’t). Chipotle’s message essentially boils down to anti-GMO propaganda intended to scare consumers into buying more of their high-priced, high-calorie burritos.

But its advertising slogan, if Chipotle truly had integrity, should’ve been “G-M-Only kinda.” Its claim, “when it comes to our food, genetically modified ingredients don’t make the cut,” was not true. Shortly after the campaign announcement, lots of smart people (i.e., actual scientists) made Chipotle eat some of their non-GMO words. Turns out that items like cheese and the chain’s biggest money-maker – soft drinks – are produced using genetically engineered ingredients. The company was forced to backtrack:

The meat and dairy products we buy come from animals that are not genetically modified. But it is important to note that most animal feed in the U.S. is genetically modified, which means that the meat and dairy served at Chipotle are likely to come from animals given at least some GMO feed. Many of the beverages sold in our restaurants contain genetically modified ingredients, including those containing high fructose corn syrup, which is almost always made from GMO corn.

Sooooo….according to Chipotle, it’s ok for animals (the same animals that produce the dairy and meat we eventually consume) to eat genetically modified food that are potentially unsafe and pollute the environment but it’s not ok for Chipotle’s human customers to eat genetically modified food? If you can figure out that way of thinking, you win a burrito bowl.

After Chipotle announced it was ditching GMOs, I decided we would ditch Chipotle. My daughters were not thrilled with the decision, but I wanted to show them that sometimes you have to stand up for principle – and sometimes that principle costs you your weekly barbacoa taco with chips and guacamole.

The G-M-Over It campaign seemed to launch a slippery slope of bad news for Chipotle. Editorial boards across the political spectrum, from the New York Times to my piece in National Review, excoriated the company for its anti-science marketing and fear mongering. A few weeks later, Chipotle managed to insult nearly every American pig farmer by contracting with a British pork supplier and smearing conventional American farming in the process:

In the United States, around 95% of pigs are raised “conventionally.” Raising pigs in this conventional system can be particularly brutal for the animals. They are raised indoors, in densely crowded conditions with little or no bedding. Most live on slatted metal floors that allow their waste to collect beneath them in liquefied pools. Mother pigs are often kept for months at a time in metal crates so tiny that they cannot turn around.

American pig farmers blasted back. Minnesota Pork Producer Council President Lori Stevermer wrote an open letter, “Chipotle, what do you have against U.S. pig farmers?” She asked Chipotle not to “insinuate that the farmers who use a different production practice aren’t treating their animals humanely.”

In late summer, a class-action lawsuit filed in California accused Chipotle of deceptive marketing about its G-M-Over It marketing. “Consumers today are very concerned about what they eat, and restaurants know that consumers place a premium on food that is considered to be healthy or natural,” said Laurence D. King, an attorney for the proposed class, in a statement. “As a result, Chipotle’s advertising in its stores should have accurately informed customers about the source and quality of its ingredients and should not mislead consumers that they are serving food without GMOs when in fact they are.”

The financial news hasn’t been rosy for Chipotle this year, either. It’s stock is down more than 15% over the past month alone. Same store sales have plummeted from a year ago and it’s days as a high flying momentum stock appear to be over. It seemed like 2015 would be one big headache after another for Chipotle. Now, the company only wishes that was its only woe. Soon that headache was accompanied by stomach cramps, high fever and vomiting.

In August, about 80 customers and 18 restaurant employees in California were sickened by norovirus that was traced to a Chipotle restaurant in Simi Valley. A month later, a salmonella outbreak in 17 Chipotle restaurants in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area sickened nearly 70 people, nine of whom were hospitalized. And last week, an E. Coli outbreak forced the company to shut down more than 40 restaurants in Washington and Oregon. So far, at least 37 people are reported ill, with many hospitalized, and that number is expected to rise as more people are tested.

 Whole Paycheck

Giving up Whole Foods was a little tougher than giving up Chipotle. As a cooking teacher and someone who cooks daily for my own family, I shopped often at Whole Foods because it was convenient and offered selections I couldn’t find anywhere else. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how long I would keep my promise not to shop there. It was easier than I thought. And apparently other shoppers have discovered they can live without Whole Foods, too.

Much like Chipotle, the news about Whole Foods has been mostly dismal this year. Shares were already down 37 percent on the year and fell another 11 percent earlier this week when the company announced same-store sales declined in the fourth quarter. Its shares recovered somewhat when it announced a 5.8 percent jump in quarterly earnings, but its growth rate is at its lowest in four years.

In September, the company said it would lay-off 1,500 employees. The job cuts were “part of an evolution the company is going through to free up some more money to invest in lower prices, marketing communication and technology upgrades,” CEO Walter Robb said in an interview the day after the lay-off announcement.

Admittedly, some of the slump is outside its control. Once the mothership of the organic industry, Whole Foods now faces more competition from local stores as well as huge retailers like Costco and Wal-Mart; at the same time, some indicators show consumer interest in organic products might have plateaued. Nationwide, incomes remain stagnant. With some food prices on the rise, cash-strapped consumers are hesitant to spend $6 for asparagus water. Whole Food’s nickname as “Whole Paycheck” won’t be easy to shake.

What is not outside of their control is price-gouging. Over the summer, New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs announced an investigation into Whole Foods for “systemic overcharging for pre-packaged foods.” The agency tested 80 different kinds of prepackaged products at New York Whole Foods outlets and found all had mislabeled weights. “Our inspectors tell me this is the worst case of mislabeling they have seen in their careers, which DCA and New Yorkers will not tolerate,” said a statement by the agency.

Whole Foods has also dealt with some of its own stomach-turning recalls. In 2015 alone, the company has recalled 44 products including Curry Chicken Salad and Classic Deli Pasta Salad sold at several East Coast locations over concerns about listeria contamination. Unlike the safe GMOs the company shuns, listeria can pose serious health problems including high fever, severe headaches, nausea and diarrhea. It can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths, and can be potentially fatal to young children and elderly people.

Time to eat some GMO crow?

Which brings me back to GMOs. Like Chipotle, I stopped shopping at Whole Foods because of its anti-GMO marketeering. They are major funders of labeling initiatives under the guise of a “right to know” what’s in your food (but perhaps they should worry about their own food ingredients considering the previous paragraph). By 2018, the store says it will label all of its products either GMO or non-GMO. This is designed to steer consumers toward non-GMO organic products sold by Whole Foods, almost always at higher prices.

Whenever I read about so-called earnest GMO labeling efforts, I’m reminded of the best article written this year about GMOs by Slate’s Will Saletan:

The people who push GMO labels and GMO-free shopping aren’t informing you or protecting you. They’re using you. They use your anxiety to justify GMO labels, and then they use GMO labels to justify your anxiety. Keeping you scared is the key to their political and business strategy. And companies like Chipotle, with their non-GMO marketing campaigns, are playing along.

Whole Foods and Chipotle  secured their lucrative market niches by selling commodity goods at higher prices, which consumers willingly paid based on their belief that they were getting a superior product — ethically and sustainably. It was the model pioneered by The Body Shop cosmetic company in the 1980s and early 90s. It profited on what the GLP’s Jon Entine called an “integrity premium” in numerous investigative reports about Body Shop and its founder, Anita Roddick; she was “exploiting idealism,” another phrase that he coined. When the public learned that Body Shop was just another beauty company selling commodity cosmetics at higher prices and that its “high ethics” were a marketing creation, the company’s financial bubble burst — permanently. It began losing money year and year, going from one of London City’s high fliers to a stock doormat that was eventually sold off to L’Oreal.

Now that consumers are coming to see Chipotle and Whole Foods as more marketing than sustainability and substance, will they suffer the same fate? Their integrity premiums are already shrinking. I don’t hope for the companies to fail although they certainly deserve some measure of comeuppance. But they employ a lot of good people who need those jobs and generate tax revenues for governments who need that money. So perhaps Chipotle and Whole Foods need to take a step back and eat some GMO crow. Their demonization of a safe, useful technology that has tremendous potential on a global scale in a crass move to either look trendy or sell more of their products is simply unacceptable. And given some of the problems they’ve encountered this year, perhaps focusing on their own safe food supply should be their priority.

Julie Kelly is a mom of two, a cooking teacher, food writer and ex-customer of Chipotle and Whole Foods. You can spar with her on Twitter @julie_kelly2.

 

  • Goody FANFan

    Right on, on all counts. The only thing missing was mention of Whole Foods Markets’ deciding it will stop selling a couple products made using prison labor. Trying to compete on price by sourcing products made by prisoners is a repugnant strategy. They’ve promised to stop selling the products–in about five months.
    https://news.vice.com/article/whole-foods-expensive-cheese-and-the-dilemma-of-cheap-prison-labor

    The current Chipotle outbreak story is a local one for me so I’m following it closely. While food-borne contamination is a serious matter, the Center for Consumer Freedom’s “You can’t spell Chipotle without E. coli” is very clever. An anti-GMO poster on a Disqus thread made the mistake of typing Chipotlie, Chipot-lie works for me.

    • Julie Kelly

      Oh that’s good. Wish I would’ve thought of it! I’ll have to use it in a future piece.
      Thanks for commenting!

    • agscienceliterate

      It’s a local issue for me, too. I vote with my wallet, and do not shop at Whole Foods or eat at Chipotle. Their respective corporate failures are entirely their own, based on the hubris of management that perceives it can sell snake oil at high prices, and that the public will consistently support them. Aggressively promoting ostensibly superior and “healthy” food, that makes many people sick, while absolutely zero people have every been harmed or been sickened by GE foods (despite many unscientific correlation errors), is the hubris that is leading to their stumbling.

      You can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

  • WeGotta

    “I really don’t want people to suffer but I’m glad they are.”
    You put your ideology before people and facts. It’s clear in your thinly veiled spiteful tone. It gives me the “chicken skin” to read your words.

    Companies try and capitalize on emerging trends. That’s all. They need to make money to survive. There’s no difference between what these two companies are doing and what any other company does. They try and convince us to buy their stuff. That’s it.

    The trend is that people want to eat healthy food. This doesn’t change with the rise and fall of quarterly profits for whole foods.
    If it were as you say you are being dishonest and incomplete because you left out an analysis of monsanto’s stock and The crash GM sugar beet crops.

    But again, it’s not about any of that stuff.
    People want to eat healthy food.
    GM food is not healthy food.

    • Eco-Sustainable

      “GM food is not healthy food.”

      More baseless opinions.

      • WeGotta

        List 10 foods made from GM crops in order of most eaten and we will see how “baseless” is my opinion.

        • Eco-Sustainable

          https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/burden-of-proof

          Looks like someone is not paying attention to his Logic classes.

          • WeGotta

            Oh boy. Your argument is a link? How lazy.

            GM crops are turned into chemicals such as sweeteners and oils (like even Robert Wager admits). These are then used to manufacture stuff that resembles food.

            You can believe these are healthy foods if you want. Eat up!

          • First Officer

            So your saying, organic crops are not turned into oils, sweeteners and chemicals ?

          • WeGotta

            Better go back and check out eco’s link to that logic site. Then try again.

            We are talking about GMO and whether or not those foods are healthy.

          • First Officer

            It’s a simple question. Are you saying there are no oils, sweeteners and chemicals derived from organic crops?

          • WeGotta

            It is a simple question and the answer is yes. You can make junk food out of “organic” stuff too. This still is not an argument that nullifies my statement.

            If you are human and you eat GMO, you are most likely eating junk food. Eat too much of this junk food and you will join the swelling ranks of Americans who are getting sick and dying from eating too much of this crap.

            Eating GMO is bad for you.

          • JP

            Congratulations on completely conflating issues.

          • WeGotta

            I think you meant to respond to first officer with that comment since that was what he/she was trying to do right after accusing me of faulty logic.

            It’s not a conflation to say that if you eat GM food you are most likely eating unhealthy food.

          • Marionetta

            You keep saying it’s unhealthy as though it’ll somehow become true.

          • WeGotta

            It is or it isn’t.
            I say don’t listen to me. Learn about it then eat what you want. Research what are the GMO crops and what foods are made from them.

            I comment to counter the other point of view from people who say “Eat what we tell you to eat. You are stupid if you don’t want to eat GMO.”
            These kind of people are dishonest and greedy.

          • Goody FANFan

            Who has ever said “Eat what we tell you to eat…” This is a fabrication.

          • WeGotta

            Isn’t that exactly what you are saying when you hide things related to our food?
            You don’t need to know, just eat it.

          • Goody FANFan

            How am “I” hiding anything? I don’t work in the agriculture/food production/food retail sector.
            Anti-GMO activist organization have threatened grocery manufacturers–we’re going to make you pay at the check stand if you label. Then they turn around and use the results of their threats–resistance to labeling in the face of threats–to whip up people like you. Fortunately, the market has responded and people who are needlessly afraid of GMOs can do their shopping GMO-free.
            Using the regulatory powers of government to pick marketplace winners and losers is very poor public policy.

          • gmoeater

            Goody, it is like when we were babies, and our mothers decided what went into our mouths. We just opened up like baby birds, and in it went. As you point out, as adults we can easily make our own decisions and no one is “forcing” us to eat anything, or keeping us in the dark. It takes less than a minute to look up what is GE and what is organic. Any mature person who has an interest can do that. And, as you point out, using the government to mandate what gets labeled based on activism rather than science, would result in poor public policy. (which voters have agreed with, in voting down the most recent ballot initiatives for labeling)

            When activists whine that we are “hiding” things “in” their food, they abdicate all responsibility for researching and deciding what they put into their mouths, and revert to whiney little babies expecting their mommies to make decisions for them. Or the government, when their mommies get tired of their petulant whining.

            The burden of proof is on the activists to take one minute to look up and decide what they want to eat, and then to eat that. All the rest is just immature posturing.

          • Goody FANFan

            You are absolutely right.The “Right to Know” strategy is to cast consumers as victims. Fortunately, most people don’t feel victimized by the status quo. Consumers are interested in a label that would tell them GMO content, but become much less interested when they find out it’ll cost them at the check stand.

            Anti-GMO activists use “Right to Know” very cleverly, by first telling manufacturers that if they label their products as containing GMOs the activists will campaign to scare people (see Ronnie Cummins’ reflexive use of “skull and crossbones” rhetoric) and then they tell consumers “They won’t disclose GMO content. They must be hiding something.”

            A primary reason for my being in this argument is that I saw very negative effects of fear-mongering used to defeat community water fluoridation (CWF) in Portland, Oregon, in 2013. The “anti” campaign’s slogan–“No fluoride chemicals in our water”–caused some residents to see CWF as an existential threat, leading to acts of vandalism. There was NO effort to engage the public in an honest discussion of pros and cons of CWF.

            I think Razorjack’s and Ken’s effort (on other threads) to pee all over anyone who supports genetic engineering is both a symptom of, and a tool for perpetuating, activism fed by fear-mongering. It’s also puerile.

          • agscienceliterate

            Puerile – I love it! great description.

            These guys totally ignore the fact that voters disagree with them on their labeling witch-hunts. The “93% support labeling” they always tout certainly did not hold in Oregon and Colorado, which tromped the very badly written ballot measures. And totally ignored the costs to farmers (for 100% field, harvest, storage, and shipment segregation) and consumers (for manufacturing segregation), and try to pretend it is merely the cost of the paper label on the jar.

            I for one would totally support process labeling if these guys would step up to the plate and insist on process labeling for irradiation and chemical blasting, which describe mutagenesis for thousands of foods we eat, with far less predictable results than with GE, and with zero oversight, and zero labeling, When they successfully lobby for labeling mutagenic foods, then I will support them on GE labeling. (well, not really, because it’s all nuts to focus on a process, rather on the end product)

            Their non-gmo label also means nothing (gmo salt? gmo water? oh, really), but if that makes them happy, that’s what they have. And they get their wish for a more expensive product, as well, going this route.

            I also agree we need to spoon feed these guys information (which is erroneous, deceptive, and misleading anyway) that they can clearly look up for themselves if they really want to. Unless, as gmoeater states, they really still do need their mothers to tell them what to eat.

            And less and less of us are being conned by this asinine fearmongering, as time goes on.

          • Goody FANFan

            Right on! I’m a big fan of supporting my arguments with links to in-depth articles or opinion pieces as well as scientific studies.

            During the Portland CWF debacle, it became very evident, however, that building arguments on science is a loser with the public. Too much work for them and is completely ineffective against fear-mongering. I posted hot and heavy during Oregon’s Measure 92 battle last year–mostly to point out the financial interests of organizations pushing labeling–Mercola, Clif Bar, David Bronner and, of course the Organic Consumers Association. The Center for Food Safety has a somewhat different but equally problematic agenda.

            The fact that labeling will increase costs to consumers is, whether we like it or not, the single most compelling argument for the average consumer, who really doesn’t find the status quo threatening at all.

          • Goody FANFan

            Your argument commits the ecological fallacy (technical term) by asserting that because genetically-engineered products are used in manufacturing junk food, that all genetically-engineered foods are “bad for you.” This is demonstrably not true. Imagine a diet rich in zucchini and papayas…

          • WeGotta

            I never said that all GE foods are bad for you.
            Just the most common ones we all eat right now.
            Corn and soy.
            These are used to make mostly junk food.

            So when supposedly educated people talk up the technology but refuse to acknowledge the huge failures in our food system (of which GMO is a big part), I have no choice but to view those opinions as suspect.

            Other uses are just stupid. Like non-browning apples.

          • Goody FANFan

            Your post above: “What is relevant is what constitutes “healthy” food?
            Its definitely NOT any food from current GM crops.”
            I note your statement that “not any” GM crops constitute “healthy” food. As well as your statement “Eating GMO is bad for you.”
            Ecological fallacy, over and out.

          • WeGotta

            You should note all the words of a sentence. Specifically, note the word “current” in that sentence.

            Current application of this technology is to aid the production of junk food.

            Same for our food regulations. Favors junk food.
            Same for our taxes. Favors junk food.

            Isn’t stupid to have a system set up to favor over saturation of a society by junk food?

          • Goody FANFan

            There is nothing about genetically engineered crops that makes them worse for health than eating it’s conventional counterpart.
            Your problem is with junk food, not GMOs.
            Doritos made with conventionally-grown corn would be no more healthful than Doritos made with GE corn.

          • crush davis

            So it’s not really about transgenic corn and soy. It’s about the junk food people eat, made from corn and soy (presumably of ANY derivation). Which means it’s not really an agronomic issue at all. It’s a societal, dietary issue with you people. So, in other words, we can infer that YOU don’t like junk food, and YOU don’t think people should eat it, even though it’s really none of your business WHAT they do. Not surprising. Typical activist. You say you don’t care if companies make money…just as long as they’re companies you support. Isn’t that right, “WeGotta”? As in, “WeGotta make sure WeTalk trash about anybody WeDon’t like?” Sure it is.

          • WeGotta

            Oh crush, your’e not listening. Stop trying to pigeonhole me.

            It is partly about transgenic corn and soy. Why spend millions of dollars developing a way to increase the availability of, and decrease costs for, junk food?
            This is a societal and dietary issue. Why would a “smart”, “logical” or “scientifically inclined” society literally spend tax dollars and literally expend resources to find a way to increase the amount of food that is literally the number one cause of sickness, death and bankruptcy in the US?
            Why the hell would I support such a stupid thing for my country?
            Why would I not speak up when some people put love of money over our health, human compassion, common sense, decency, ethics and science?

            It is partly about an agronomic thing too.
            Why the hell would I support growing bad food in ways that wreck the environment when there are easier, less expensive and better ways of growing food?
            Why is it a smart thing to have our food production and food delivery systems so dependent on oil? How many lives are destroyed by the pursuit of oil? How much money have we wasted to get more and more of it?

            Of course I support companies “I like” over companies I don’t.
            What kind of insane contrived accusation is that?

            Everyone is an “activist”, so watch who you are calling black oh fellow commentor with obvious bias towards GMO.

          • crush davis

            Blah, blah, blah. You can say whatever you want, and try to paint me as “insane” or unpatriotic, and inhumane, or whatever else. Fine. But yes, I did pigeonhole you–and correctly. I’ve read your posts on GLP, time and time again, and they’re always the same. You are like dozens of other people I’ve seen and heard at the Acres conference, or at some biological farming meeting, or some ecological farming field walk. You have answers for everything, and solutions for nothing. I’ve already wasted enough time on replying to you and have gained nothing. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I am so, so glad I dropped people like you from my customer book. I’m a CCA, certified by the American Society of Agronomy, and an independent consultant with a good track record of helping my clients. I don’t support using transgenic crops. I don’t not support using them. I DO support my clients’ having a choice about what works best for them. You don’t want them to have that choice–for all the reasons I stated above. It’s really that simple. I’m done with you.

          • WeGotta

            Okay, bye.

          • gmoeater

            Crush, he’s a narcissist who feeds on responses from people with legitimate credentials — makes him feel very, very important to get people with your knowledge to respond to him. It just feeds his twisted ego, whether your responses are either positive or, in his case, negative responses to his ignorant blathering.
            Being done with him is smart. I was done with him long ago — a waste of time.

          • crush davis

            How is the glucose from transgenic sugar beets “worse” than the glucose from non-transgenic sugar beets? Why is it less healthy for people?

          • WeGotta

            I never said highly processed sweeteners from GMO is “worse” than highly processed sweeteners from non-gmo.
            They are both bad for you if you eat too much. So why would I support a technology that makes growing sugar beets so much easier and cheaper?

            But that’s just one of many differences between the two techniques.

          • Goody FANFan

            Ah, so your are the rare anti-GMO apostate that admits the utility of agricultural technology.

          • WeGotta

            I’m not “anti” any technology. That would be an insane worldview since things like cooking and sunglasses are types of technologies.

            I am anti-stupid though.
            And there’s a lot of that going around.

            Especially when it comes to how we choose to use and not use our technology and knowledge.

          • Stuart M.

            Let’s see. Eating too much of junk food made from organic “stuff” is okay. But eating junk food made of GMOs will make you die. Are you mentally disabled?

          • WeGotta

            Your comment makes me think you aren’t comprehending.
            I know its complicated but read with more concentration and really try hard to follow.

            I never said eating highly processed sweeteners from non-GMO is any better than eating highly processed sweeteners from GMO.

            I did say that highly processed sweeteners are known to cause disease and contribute to most of the top ten reasons Americans get sick, die and go bankrupt.

            I did say that its incredibly stupid and scientifically inept to waste time and resources developing technology that makes highly processed sweeteners more abundant and cheaper.
            Then, if you add doing it for money, it turns from stupid to criminal in my opinion. I just said that too, just now.

            I did say that most people who are eating GMO are eating GMO in the form of chemicals that are known to cause our worst diseases which manifest in expensive and temporally drawn out ways.

    • Julie Kelly

      Why did you put the first sentence in quotes, like I said that? If you can’t make your case without making something up, don’t bother.
      Chipotle’s food isn’t healthier, and neither is Whole Foods’ by the way. Unless you have evidence to prove it?
      McDonald’s would NEVER be allowed to get away with the blatant false advertising and misleading information disseminated by Chipotle. Never. Every state Attorney General would be investigating their marketing campaigns and force them to halt any reference that their restaurants are GMO-free because they are not. Chipotle gets away with it because they’ve been (up until now) the darling of elite foodies and the media.
      I’m glad my piece made your skin crawl.

      • WeGotta

        It’s in quotes because it sums up your whole wordy article in one sentence.
        It’s an example of how you are a liar and you are mean spirited.
        You say that you don’t want people to suffer but then go on to delight in it. Multiple times that’s what you say.
        Hence, you are a liar.
        You seem to revel in the fact that people were sickened because it furthers your misguided campaign. As long as “your side”wins you couldn’t care less about actual people. They are just casualties in your war.

        Whole foods and chipotle sell all kinds of food, some healthy and some not.
        What difference does this make? Same can be said for most supermarkets. It’s irrelevant.

        What is relevant is what constitutes “healthy” food?
        Its definitely NOT any food from current GM crops.

        • Julie Kelly

          You seriously need something else to do besides troll on my pieces, write ad hominem attacks and make dumb statements about GMOs.

          • gmoeater

            Julie, this guy gets off on rabble rousing and blathering. Even the very fact that he got you, the author, to actually respond to him, is a turn-on to him. He knows nothing, and engages in what my mother used to call “diarrhea of the mouth.”

            Actually, I am going to report his last comment as abuse, because he has flat-out called you a liar, which goes even beyond his own usual meaningless, ego-driven drivel.

          • Julie Kelly

            Thank you!

          • gmoeater

            Any time, Julie! Thanks for writing your truth. It is very appreciated.

          • WeGotta

            I called her mean spirited also. I stand by my opinions.
            The whole article is about how she’s happy that other people are getting sick and losing their jobs because in her twisted mind this means “her side” is winning. “Karma is a bitch” and all.

            It’s karma that people get a dangerous pathogen in some produce they ate at some restaurant????
            Its karma that people lose their jobs???

            This isn’t some war between GMO and organic. This is real people trying to figure out what to eat to be as healthy as possible.

            “Liar” is barely able to describe the despicable peolple who would actively try to misinform us when so many people are dying from preventable diseases and going bankrupt from medical bills.

            Lies:
            GMO makes healthy food.
            GMO is cheap.
            GMO is environmentally friendly.
            GMO is good science.
            GMO is needed to feed the hungry.

          • WeGotta

            You’re gonna wish away a tenth of your readers?

            It’s not “ad hominem” to evaluate the words you use and critique your point of view in a public article you published to try and persuade people to like what you like.

            GMO is mostly eaten by humans as ingredients in junk food. Sweeteners and oils used to make all the junk food that’s in the supermarket.
            Even though it seems like there are many different products to choose from, it’s all made of the same crap and it’s nearly all sold by a handful of huge corporations.
            The same ones who pay you, your husband, Folta and the same ones who bribe our government and advertise their junk to us nonstop.
            These are factual statements.

          • Stuart M.

            Absolutely no where did Ms. Kelly say that she was glad people got sick. You are the liar. LIAR! LIAR! PANTS ON FIRE!

          • WeGotta

            “So you can imagine my own smugness”
            Smug: having or showing an excessive pride in oneself or one’s achievements. Example: “he was feeling smug after his win”. Synonyms: self-satisfied, self-congratulatory, complacent, superior, pleased with oneself, conceited

            “I can only come up with three words: Karma’s a bitch.”

            “it’s hard for me not to gloat”

            “are getting exactly what they deserve”

            “they certainly deserve some measure of comeuppance”

            Which other emotion or feeling would better describe such a tone? I think “glad” fits the best out of the available choices.

        • Sater Felix K.

          WeGotta or whatever this person wants to be called by is someone who has been drinking the anti-GMO kool aid, and hard at that. Ad-hominem, opinion based attacks and absolutely no facts to back up any of it. Sound familiar? Oh yeah, like the ENTIRE ANTI-GMO movement. They spout the same overplayed rhetoric in an effort to illicit an emotional response, instead of leading with facts because quite frankly, they’re not on their side. It’s kind of like politics, you play to the emotions instead of the facts because that’s what keeps your lies real in the eyes of your constituents/customers. People and movements like this will be forgotten as time will prove their position as being on the wrong side of history and science. Embracing the naturalistic fallacy (amongst many others) seems to be a leading trend with people these days who don’t bother to double check anything said to them by any of their hipster friends. #ShillArmy

          • WeGotta

            Okay.

  • kenroseboro

    The headline/angle on this story is that Whole Foods and Chipotle are struggling because of their non-GMO commitments and that’s BS.

    • agscienceliterate

      Incorrect. The story clearly states that they are struggling because their stated philosophies of purity, cleanliness, and “organic is better” hype is failing them. The story clearly focuses on the hypocrisy that is being exposed by companies such as Whole Foods and Chipotle who sell overpriced products based on fear and on false marketing.

      • kenroseboro

        Whole Foods is struggling because they are getting competition from larger retailers like Costco and Kroger’s which sold $11 billion worth of natural and organic foods last year, demonstrating that more and more Americans want those types of foods. Chipotle is having trouble because of the E coli problem. But they’ll be fine because more people want the type of foods they are selling, particularly Millenials. One could also say that Monsanto is struggling because of their commitment to GMOs.

        • First Officer

          Yup, sales are 4-5% of all retail sales but actual food is only about 1%. That alone is a good measure that Organic cannot feed us all.

        • agscienceliterate

          You did not know that Monsanto sells conventional and organic seeds, obviously. Also, many other seed companies sell GE seeds. Focusing on Monsanto is a blindfold that will not serve you well in learning more about biotechnology.

          Millenials are actually among the many who are taking a closer scrutinizing look at the hype behind organic foods, and the misleading hype about GE foods.

        • Michael McCarthy

          ” Chipotle is having trouble because of the E coli problem”
          Nope, their problems precede that.
          http://money.cnn.com/2015/10/20/investing/mcdonalds-comeback-earnings/

        • agscienceliterate

          Your point, that WF and Chip aren’t struggling because of their “non-gmo commitments” is irrelevant. And your point that Costco and Kroger’s are doing well by selling more organic does not help you make your point.

          Your speculation that “Monsanto is struggling because of their commitment to GMOs” shows your unawareness of how many other seed companies there are, how many more farmers are buying GE seeds every year, and that Monsanto does not sell just GE seeds. Your speculation is based on narrow, and erroneous, presumptions.

          Whole Foods and Chipotle are doing badly because people are seeing through the pro-organic industry heavy duty lobbying based on falsehoods of “clean, green, healthy,” at significantly higher prices.

          My Kroger store guys know that many of us want non-organic alternatives, and they are providing them. I have told them I do not want to be risking e.coli contamination from organic kale, and they have started offering conventional (and cheaper, and poop-free) alternatives.

          If you really believe people will go back to Chipotle in droves, without thinking twice about e.coli contamination, just because Chipotle hypes “ethical food” (while it lies about its GE ingredients and is making people sick), then you really think people are stupider and more brand-loyal than I think. I think people are gonna bolt, and strt patronizing their local Mexican restaurants again, where there is better food, less posturing, and certainly less sickness than Chipotle has dealt with — 3 episodes in the past few months.

      • WeGotta

        All marketing is essentially false.

  • First Officer

  • Schratboy

    Whole foods is losing business to lower priced competition where savvy consumers seek out similar organic foods at better prices. And the lines at Chipotle are longer than ever, while service and quality improves.

    • Goody FANFan

      Except in the Pacific Northwest where over 40 Chipotle restaurants are closed due to a large E. coli outbreak. Poisoned consumers are just starting to lawyer up.

      http://www.oregonlive.com/health/index.ssf/2015/11/oregon_lawsuit_filed_in_chipot.html

    • crush davis

      Haha. OK. My wife likes Chipotle and I only eat it bc I’m a savvy consumer who doesn’t want to pay when I can share with her. But I don’t go there without her. I can’t stand their sanctimonious posturing. But she drags me there about 2x per month, and every time we go in, the clientele is about 90% high school kids. It’s not because they’re “savvy.” It’s because they’re gullible, idealistic and uninformed.

  • H. Miller
    • WeGotta

      So says the fake journalist who profits from misinformation and lies. Yes, this article is right up your alley.
      You are complicit in the destruction of journalism which was once regarded as a critical part of democracy.

      Your links:
      1. “Whole Foods Caught With Their Thumb On The Scale And Their Hand In Your Pocket”.

      The GMO industry has a bigger thumb and more hands.
      If you were really appalled by such a thing you should write an expose on the tipped scales which promote junk foods even though most people die from eating too much of it.

      2. “Chipotle: The Strangest Restaurant Menu Ever”

      That’s obviously not true and not newsworthy unless you are trying to promote the GMO agenda.

      Just like this whole article is just a promotion of an agenda. This one is done in extremely poor taste.

      • Warren Lauzon

        And of course junk food did not exist prior to GMO’s…

        • joejohnson

          OK so the tomato story is bogus. The phony case of a person dying from GMO tomatoes that contained a fish protein – the guy supposedly died as a result of anaphylaxis from fish allergen. He had no idea the tomato was really part fish..

          Ha ha, just the type of red herring stuff used to throw people off a potentially real problem with GMOs:. food allergy is going up and up. Shills working for the industry have been exposed. I don’t think that tomato story is too far from what could actually be happening in some people with bt toxin or another actually real protein that cause sensitive people to suffer. I don’t want my rice to give me botox. The issue for me is that I don’t want to eat glysophate soaked food. Glysophate is the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine made toxic with the addition of a phosphono on the Nitrogen. Looks kinda like a neurotransmiter and in fact is an acetylcholinesterace inhibitor.

          • Good4U

            I guess you failed chemistry, huh? Your stressed analogy is evidence. It’s like saying a Lamborghini does the same thing as an F22 Raptor…they both look sleek, have wheels that roll fast across the ground, and a steering mechanism… so by your simple inspection they must accomplish the same thing. Tell me the truth now, do you wake up in the morning intentionally dreaming up foolish things to whack out on your computer keyboard?

  • GMO vendors tend to provide better products & service. They (+ employees) care more than the average vendor about quality of product, and they charge for that. I don’t believe they can provide non-GMO food, CONSISTENTLY. This is an example of that failure. ​

    ​I like all the vendors named, but the author is an ARROGANT fool to gloat, and make his own claims. Almost enough to make me ignore his comments… Seems everything gets polarized nowadays – lol

    • Goody FANFan

      Chipotle currently has over 40 stores in the Northwest closed due to an E. coli outbreak. The 40 or so customers poisoned by eating there would definitely disagree with the idea that they provide better products–and they’re hiring lawyers to help them make that case.

      As the company’s critics say, you can’t spell Chipotle without E. coli.

      • Michael McCarthy

        As the company’s critics say, you can’t spell Chipotle without E. coli.”

        this just in, more e coli and another stock drop, poor Chipotlie

        • hyperzombie

          It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of folks.

          • Michael McCarthy

            guess that whole “natural and healthy” isn’t really working out so well for them. Guess it isn’t worth the 40 mile trip for Ted these days.

          • Where have you been, buddy? Hope everything is ok.

          • Where has our Disqus friend, Michael been?

  • LafayetteCoboll

    Wanting to use non-GMO food or wanting GMO labeling did not contribute to a decline in profits at Whole Foods or the problems Chipotle had with it’s food. Misleading title by a biased author pushing GMO food.

    GMO corn and soybeans (and maybe other products) can be sprayed with herbicides like Roundup. Raise your hand if you are happy that your food is now sprayed with a herbicide which the WHO said last spring “probably causes cancer”.

    • hyperzombie

      All crops are sprayed with pesticides even organic ones, learn something about agriculture so you don’t look like an idi0t on the internet.

      • LafayetteCoboll

        I said “herbicides” you said “pesticides”. Read more carefully.

        Please provide a link to a reputable source that backs up your incredible claim that “all crops are sprayed with pesticides, even organic ones”.