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Chipotle: A More Responsible Fast-Food Choice

February 27, 2012
Chipotle tacos

photo - Robyn Lee

Chipotle’s newest ad, an animated story featuring Willie Nelson’s cover of a famous Coldplay hit, aired two weeks ago at the Grammy Awards. Since then, the video has stirred up quite a controversy. For organic eaters like myself, the video represented a step in the right direction, towards sustainable and organic farming. For some American food companies, however, the video represented an attack on modern food practices, without which the world would be plunged into devastating famine. (For anyone who didn’t catch the Grammy Awards, you can watch the video below.)


How true is it? Here’s the skinny on Chipotle’s practices.

Although Chipotle promises to “cultivate a better world “, there’s really nothing in the video to tell you whether Chipotle is following up on their promise to promote sustainable farm production. According to the company’s founder and CEO, Steve Ells , Chipotle “now serves only rBGH-free dairy products, and all of its pork meets its standards for hormone- and antibiotic-free, humanely raised meat, as does 100% of its chicken and 60% of its beef.” Additionally, the restaurant is known for its lack of freezers, microwaves and can openers, as most of its food (with the exception of the beans and the carnitas) is made in house.

Chipotle World Headquarters

Photo - Atomic Taco

But is it enough? Although Chipotle’s commitment to the environment marks a departure from the business-as-usual mass-production of other fast food restaurants, Chipotle’s policies still have a lot of room for improvement. The company’s website boasts that 40% of their beans are organically grown and that Chipotle plans to serve at least 50% of at least one produce item from local farms when it is seasonally available – though that leaves a lot of wiggle room. And the company also states that although they are in favor of organic produce, it is “not always appropriate” for the food which they serve.

Where does this leave Chipotle? Yes, they are making considerable strides — more so than any other fast food restaurant — to consistently serve fresh, organic (when possible), locally-grown (when possible), hormone-free food.  But it can be said that Chipotle is not yet the environmental champion which it claims to be. So, yes – it’s a responsible choice to pick Chipotle over McDonald’s, but ultimately, Chipotle could be doing more to live up to its newly-forming reputation.

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