Chipotle Boards The Happy Exploitation Train
Is your restaurant business in decline? Do you need a new niche to attract more customers? Take a leaf out of Chipotle’s book and… encourage your suppliers to be more “humane.” That’s right. By 2024, you too could be selling chicken flesh from slow-growing chickens as opposed to fast-growing chickens. The revolution is upon us!
Jokes aside, Chipotle is attempting to regain its consumer base with “humane” marketing, having had a steady decline in consumers since the fall of 2015. Earlier this month, it was announced that it will require it’s chicken suppliers to switch to more “humane” practices by 2024. This will involve chicken farmers using “smaller birds” as opposed to “quick-growing” birds as the latter are said to be prone to more health problems on account of their size. Chipotle are also requiring “that the chickens have more living space, receive the benefits of better lighting and be slaughtered in a more humane manner.”
The Tex-Mex chain uses 140 million pounds of chicken flesh every year.
Aside from fact that these changes won’t be implemented for another 7 years – if ever – there is always the assumption with animal welfare measures that the animals will benefit in some way, or that the animals are the intended beneficiaries of the measure. As animals are chattel property, this is almost never the case. The beneficiaries of these measures are always the humans; you cannot equally balance the interests of a property owner against his or her property. The property owner always wins, otherwise that person cannot be said to own that piece of property in the first place. To be a property owner means to have absolute ownership and control over that which you own. The only time legislation will prevail in dictating how you can use your property is when there is an economic or social gain from that legislation. In this case, the beneficiary in the form of economic and social gain is Chipotle in its quest to raise its consumer base and sell more chicken.
As far as the the chickens are concerned – nothing will change. Indeed, if the measure is successful for Chipotle’s marketing, more chickens will be brought into existence and killed due to an increase in demand. A chicken is not going to care whether he/she is slow-growing or fast-growing whilst being subjected to “necessary suffering” in the form of routine and “legitimate” agriculture practices; he/she will not feel the “benefits of better lighting” whilst shut in an ammonia-filled broiler shed with thousands of other birds; he/she will not even notice “more living space” when it constitutes nothing for than a few square inches and where those extra square inches are taken up with his/her dying friends; and last but not least, the chicken will not give a damn whether he/she suffers death via asphyxiation in a gas chamber or whether he/she is hung upside down with a slit throat. Aside from both of those deaths being as horrific as the other, one cannot grant a “humane death” to a being who did not want to die.
The reality of the situation? Nothing will change for chickens, but due to Chipotle’s marketing, people will feel more comfortable about consuming animals and Chipotle will likely see an increase in trade. It’s also worth noting that any changes made by the suppliers will most likely result in an increase in efficiency for them too. That’s how these forms of legislation are passed – if there is no benefit for the supplier, there is no legislation. The supplier will either be able to pass on increased costs for greater profit or cut their costs through reduced veterinary bills, less carcass damage, etc.
Hypothetically I’d also like to point out, even if Chipotle’s chickens were going to be raised on some fantasy farm where there are 10 chickens per acre, for example – the chickens would still be seen as economic commodities with no inherent value. The beneficiary of such a system would still be the property owners from an increase in profitability – they would be passing on the increased costs of raising the chickens to the consumer.
But back to reality, animal welfare measures are nothing but a mix n’ match of various torture methods as far as the animals are concerned and where the marketing of those measures do nothing but make humans feel more comfortable about exploiting animals.