It happened. Some time in the last couple of weeks, Chick-Fil-A has made an appearance. As of May 28th, the American fast-food chain has quietly opened a branch at the Calgary Intentional Airport (Calgary Sun, 2014). I’m opposed to this move for a variety of reasons, and I’ll go over them here. I would ask that anyone who reads this post consider signing a petition against them (SumOfUs.org, ,2014). I’ll get that out in the open right from the start. The petition mentions one reason: I have bunches.
First there’s the homophobia. The fast-food chain is well known in the U.S. for being established and owned by a family of religious zealots, whose church perspective intertwines heavily with their business model. I wrote about this a couple of years ago (Bowles, 2012 & Bowles, 2012). One of the reasons I don’t eat at Chick-Fil-A when I visit the South, and I don’t want them in Canada, is that I don’t want any of my money, as their profits, going to fight same-sex marriage in my adopted state. They can believe what they want; but if they’re going to use their restaurant as a launch for proselytizing and indoctrination, they can keep it.
Now on the one hand will admit that I respect this very much, and I encourage anyone (everyone) to live out their beliefs as much as they can, in and outside if work. It’s one of the reasons I first came out when I was in Arkansas; in spite of negative reactions. These days, those conditions are changing. If Dan Cathy wants to make a point of his beliefs, he invites the ramifications, positive and negative. And the negative are growing. It’s not discrimination; it’s just a reaction.
Beyond that, there’s the cultural imperialism involved in this practise. Let’s face it, my fellow Canadians: we’ve been all but taken over by Americans in almost every sense, and that is a depressing fact. We’re one of many nations in the world that had volunteered to accept and has eagerly absorbed every aspect of American culture: good, bad or indifferent. We are effectively being exploited to support the American economy more than our own (ever wonder why prices are so much lower in the States?). We have Canadian content rules to our radio and television, yet there is no such requirement for invading institutions. Chick-Fil-A is not just chicken.
There’s the environmental concept of buying local. In this case, it refers less to the origin of the ingredients (which I hope will benefit local buyers) but to the ownership of the company. Why buy a chicken sandwich from a company based in Atlanta, thousands of miles away, when you could buy one owned by a local owner, and benefit your own economy? Indeed, why buy from a chain at all, when you can buy from a local restaurateur? Maybe not at the airport, of course, where you just want something easy (even if rarely cheap): though the Chick-Fil-A did move into the space once occupied by Harvey’s, a Canadian chain (Calgary Herald, 2014). The international, non-local shift is already evident.
Then there’s the healthiness of the food. Much though the Cathy family claims the food is healthy (Chick-Fil-A, 2014), there have been a lot of recent “tweaks” to improve the perception of its healthiness, in response to a variety of criticisms (Huffington Post, 2013). Certainly, sometimes, you just want something like “comfort food” that is tasty and fried and fattening: but just because you’re going to let slip your principles with regard to personal diet doesn’t mean you have to abandon them regarding other important principles regarding social interaction.
So please consider signing the petition. You never know what the effect will be until you try. (SumOfUs.org, 2014)