Archive | June, 2009

Getting Local Food, Locally Part II: Chipotle

20 Jun

Chipotle is a chain of Mexican Style fast food restaurants in the United States – and they don’t buy their pork from factory farms. That is only the start! While they are not 100% organic or sustainable yet, they have a fantastic “Food With Integrity” philosophy which includes “unprocessed, seasonal, family-farmed, sustainable, nutritious, naturally raised, added hormone free, organic, and artisanal” foods.

There is a great Nightline Segment from 6/16/09 all about this Chipotle philosophy with a cameo from Joel of Polyface Farms.

The craziest thing about all this is that I have not yet been to this restaurant! Fortunately, we have two in San Francisco. We sent an email to Chipotle asking about their produce and rice as this is not discussed on their website as much as their meat and beans. They sent us a great response!

“We have currently committed to buying 35 percent of one bulk produce item for all of our restaurants, when seasonally available, from local farmers. We’re looking to build on this program for the future. Last year, when we began the program, we sourced 25 percent of one bulk produce item used in each store from a local farm. This year we have upped our goals to 35 percent so we are making some progress.

We need a lot of ingredients. Unfortunately these better suppliers are more of a niche than a mainstream. Our plan is just to start small, just as we did with our naturally-raised meats, and to grow the program from there as supply increases to meet demand.

With our program, our produce is generally coming from within 200 miles or less of our restaurants. This might also be on a seasonal basis. As you might be able to imagine, it would be quite a challenge to buy certain items, such as romaine lettuce in Minneapolis, in the middle of the winter.

Unfortunately, I cannot give you specifics for rice, lettuce or tomatoes as different restaurant are focusing on different things that will work better for that region. However, we are really focused on making a difference. As part of our Food with Integrity initiative, we are trying to operate our restaurants in a manner which is better for the environment, better for the animals, and better for the farmers who raise the animals and grow the produce. We also happen to think fresh food tastes better. In this way, we hope it is also better for our customers.”