For better or for worse, arguments over major burrito chains can make or break friendships these days. (For better, for sure.) So today is one of those days where I really love having a blog; I get to vent to my fullest and nobody can stop me. Plenty of people will disagree with me, but maybe some will agree. Either way, I don’t really care. I just want to explain my reasoning without being interrupted for once.
I have been a Qdoba fan since the moment it entered my life. I can’t remember the exact day, or month, or year, probably because I blacked out from pure bliss after my first bite. Maybe it was in college? No, scratch that. Some of my best friendships in college were initiated and/or solidified because of our pre-existing affinity for the at-the-time-still-growing-chain.
Brand loyalty does not come easily to me. There are only two brands that I can think of to which I’ve remained loyal for years: Qdoba and Jeep. (Those who know me are probably wondering “what about Adidas and Lancome?!” but the truth is my shoe-drobe and my beauty routine have both been forced to recognize that other products are better suited to my needs — read foot shape and skin tone). Still, Qdoba’s got me, and it’s got me good.
A moment for full disclosure: Since the beginning of August this year, I’ve had the pleasure to work on a PR team whose client list includes the NCBA. Whatever my viewpoints are about beef (they are very, very good), this post in no way reflects those views of my client or my employer.
Now, if you’ve been following the food news lately, you can probably put two together… This post is about to become a major rant against Chipotle lovers. Ready? … Set?… GO!
For YEARS I’ve put up with nonsensical blabbering and frankly downright aggressive questioning from Chipotle lovers about how I can possibly love Qdoba more. STOP IT.
I love Qdoba, plain and simple. You really want to know why? Because they don’t talk at me. They don’t try to convince me to love them. They don’t try to rebrand themselves as a cultural movement or position themselves as something they’re not. They let their food speak for them, and it works. It freaking WORKS.
Have you ever even had Qdoba? Have you tried a blind taste test to compare it to Chipotle? Well I have. Hands down I loved Qdoba more. And so did these authentic Mexican-food chefs when they did one too. I’m not even going to get into the consistently awful customer service I’ve experienced on the rare occasion that I have settled for Chipotle. This is all about the food.
OK, wait, no it’s not. It’s about more than that. Even if Chipotle’s food was on par with Qdoba (which it’s not), I still wouldn’t be a fan. Why? Because I don’t like being lied to and manipulated. (Let the accusations of irony and hypocrisy begin!)
Chipotle is obviously positioning itself as an all-natural, anti-mass-farming entity to set apart its brand. If they were honest about their real standings though — honest meaning upfront — they might actually have a shot getting me to believe them.
But take a look at this article from Mother Jones and see for yourself how all you Chipotle lovers have been so manipulated by your irreproachable burrito czar:
CLAIM / IMPLICATION
|Chipotle’s meat and products are natural.||“Natural” is not defined the USDA. (“Organic” is.)|
|Chipotle doesn’t support or use Genetically Modified Organisms||Most of Chipotle’s products use GMOs, including all of their soybean oil and corn products. One or both of these can be found in their chicken, steak, fajita veggies, rice, tortilla chips and tortillas. Even their protein sources may be fed GMOs.|
|Chipotle sources “naturally raised meat” from producers who use big, open, grassy fields.||The animals Chipotle uses come from producers who are not required to give their pigs and cows access to the outdoors. Some are relegated to as little as 5 to 14 sq. ft. in their hoop buildings. Some cows finish eating in feedlots, which means they are not 100% grass-fed.|
|Chipotle relies on locally sourced foods.||The only locally sourced ingredients that Chipotle uses – and mixes in with non-local – are onions, avocados, peppers, tomatoes, jalapeños and cilantro. They do not have year-round access to local produce.|
|Chipotle is against the use of antibiotics in meat production.||The company is considering allowing animals that have been treated with antibiotics to return to the general supply. Right now 80% of Chipotle beef is raised without antibiotics or growth hormones due to supply shortages.|
|Chipotle uses organic ingredients.||Only Chipotle’s beans, oregano, avocado and cilantro are USDA-certified organic. Some ingredients (especially the beans) may not even be 100% organic.|
So, my love for Qdoba is still solidly about its taste. It’s not about how “good” it is as a company, or how healthy the ingredients are. I load those bad boys up with sour cream, queso and guac anyway. (They are comfort food and treats, not an every day pleasure)
The entire Qdoba Story is centered on fresh ingredients, full flavors and the mealtime experience. That’s what I connect with when it comes to food. Sure, sustainability is important to me. But organic or not, there are ways to find and support sustainable farming. Pitting “all natural”, “all organic” or “more sustainable” against flavorful and fresh doesn’t make any sense to me. They are not mutually exclusive… except in Chipotle’s case. And even then, they’re not as fully the former as they’d have you believe.
So next time you think it’s your new mission in life to convince me why Chipotle is “so much better” than Qdoba, please stop. Reassess your life. If you are really about to just spew a bunch of their corporate messages at me, then have fun with that breathing exercise. And thanks for the burrito craving; you can find me at the nearest Qdoba when you’re done.