Recently on Twitter, I clicked on a link from the Economist baiting me with a tweet about which American fast-food company is both most profitable and most ecofriendly.
I knew before clicking that the answer was Chipotle, but wanted to confirm.
I was greeted by this opening sentence: "SUSTAINABILITY suffers from an image problem. Not with granola-crunching sandal-wearers, but with executives and the middle-of-the-road consumers to whom they want to sell their wares."
Something in me snapped. I'll skip over the sandal-wearing comment (I do like sandals, but my favorites are made by a man named Manolo). However, I'm not a fan of granola. No offense to people who like it, or companies that make it, but it's usually a bit sweet for my taste, and all that crunch in the morning is way too loud. And my distaste for the stuff has only grown based on all the stereotypical put-downs people like me get about being "crunchy granola."
Granola is now an ubiquitous breakfast food--you can find it at your local gas station, for lord's sake--eaten everywhere by "executives and middle-of-the-road consumers." It's no longer the food of just hippies, hikers, and New-Agers. Reading the implication that caring for the environment is only connecting with those original "granola-crunching" consumers gave me the same feeling that my romance-novelist daughter gets when people call romance novels "bodice rippers." Let's just say it makes us want to rip...never mind.
Categorizing those who care about the earth as granola crunchers shows disrespect and reveals ignorance. And it's not even funny! Believe me, if it were funny, I would be all for it.
And honestly, it's time to change the conversation. Generation after generation have dealt with terms like "crunchy granola" and "tofu eater." My grandparents, who founded the organic movement in America, were Not Hippies! My parents were Not Hippies. We did not eat granola, nor did we eat tofu (although, I do enjoy tofu now from time to time--only since I've been to Japan and tasted it prepared correctly...). My point is, these terms do not reflect the public consciousness.
- Middle-of-the-road consumers are demanding and expecting it--especially Millennials, who are now the biggest group of consumers in America. Currently, organic demand is much greater than the supply (hey, that's a business opportunity!).
- The organic industry is one of the fastest-growing segments of the market--even during the Great Recession! And that doesn't include businesses like Chipotle, which isn't technically altogether organic (yet) but had the beautiful courage to ban genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in its food.
Just don't call me anything having to do with granola...with no disrespect of course to all the people out there who do love granola.
By the way, Chipotle doesn't serve granola. Also, I have it on good authority that Steve Ells, founder and CEO of Chipotle, prefers eggs for breakfast, too.
For more from Maria Rodale, visit www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com