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One Company Thinks They've Created Fast Food With a Conscience -- Are They Right?

Chipotle has a great record when it comes to buying more sustainable ingredients, but it has done one thing that has human rights activists howling.

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To make matters worse, Sellers says Chipotle has publicly slighted the accomplishments of CIW and real efforts for change in labor conditions for farm workers. He quotes Ells in a talk given to the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business last fall: "I mean, they just don't see the bigger picture," Ells said. "To change the fast-food paradigm is huge. We're trying to do the right thing."

CIW member Leonel Perez disagrees. "Steve Ells says that our campaign will not change agriculture. But seven giant food retailers and three Florida tomato growers -- including the third largest in the state and two specialty growers -- are now working with us to improve thousands of farm workers' wages and working conditions. If Chipotle is serious about improving farm workers' lives, they will follow the lead of Whole Foods, McDonald's and others in signing a binding agreement with the CIW."

Whether Chipotle will be willing to team up with CIW in an effort to improve labor conditions is yet to be seen. Sellers has invited Ells to a public debate about the issue, but Ells has yet to take him up on the offer. Still, it's not too late for Ells to be consistent about changing the fast-food paradigm.

Tara Lohan is a senior editor at AlterNet. You can follow her on Twitter @TaraLohan.