Behold, the infamous quinoa burger (pictured here in all its non-vegan glory). PHOTO: IZABELLA BALCERZAK

Photo: Izabella Balcerzak

The quinoa burger: A ballad of fucking up and owning it

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By Nicole Schmidt

Last week, The Eyeopener ran a story condemning our beloved campus pub, The Ram in the Rye, for falsely labeling its quinoa burger as vegan.

When our issue was published on Wednesday, The Ram made a Facebook post claiming that we printed false information, used offensive imagery and painted them in a bad light. Not long after that, our newspapers disappeared from all three of our stands in the SCC (several times), and I have it on good authority that it was a Ram employee.

As journalists, it’s our job to ask questions and find answers. We’re expected to hold ourselves accountable and, above all else, ensure accuracy. The past few days have been riddled with conflict and back and forth emails. Now, here we are, almost a week later and we have yet to arrive at a definitive conclusion. In times like these, the best solution is transparency. So I’m here to tell you, dear reader, everything we know.

The story came to fruition after our reporter interviewed two separate staff members, who both work with kitchen ingredients, and was told that The Ram uses one supplier for all of its buns. The aforementioned bakery later confirmed that none of their products are completely dairy or egg free due to cross-contamination—this fact alone turned into the crux of our story.

Post-publication, The Ram claimed that they use a different gluten, dairy and egg free supplier for their vegan buns. Contrary to popular belief, not all journalists are soulless, apathetic beings: if we were in the wrong, we wanted to make it right.

I requested an invoice from the beginning of the school year to confirm that they’d been using vegan products all along. Two documents were sent my way: one from Sept. 23, after we published our story, and another from July 5, when the pub was closed for the summer.

The explanation for the early order, according to Michael Verticchio, general manager of the Student Center, is that the supplies were pre-ordered and frozen two months prior to the kitchen’s re-opening. We later confirmed with the vegan-bakery that The Ram has been ordering from them since 2013, but no one was able to provide an invoice aligning with the 2016 school-year hours.

There are a few possible explanations: the first being that this was a communication error, courtesy of a clueless employee, the second being that this was a band aid solution to a problem.

What we do know, with certainty, is that the week we published our story, The Ram quietly changed the wording on their menu to specify that the quinoa burger could be ordered as vegetarian, ft. mayo and standard bun, or vegan, sans mayo with a gluten-free bun. The default option was a non-vegan product—despite it being labeled as the opposite.

No one is immune to fucking up (ourselves included), but how those mistakes are dealt with says a lot about our integrity.

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