After watching “Food, Inc.”, and learning all the horrors of industrial agriculture, I want to focus on a restaurant that is making a difference.  Chipotle was founded by Steve Ells in 1993, near the University of Denver.  Steve was an aspiring chef, who had recently graduated from culinary school.  He wanted to produced “Food with Integrity”.  Today, there are over 950 Chipotles in the United States, famous for their burritos and other Mexican entrees.  In 1998, McDonald’s made its first investment in a restaurant chain that it did not itself develop.  This relationship with McDonald’s helped Chipotle spread nationally.  Chipotle is also known for their fresh, gourmet and organic ingredients.  In 2001, Chipotle switched to a free-range pork.  This meant it used meat from a farm that let “pigs be pigs”.  These pigs had never been injected with antibiotics because they didn’t have to stand around in cages, soaking in their own feces, waiting to be taken to the slaughter houses.  The pork has alot better taste and is alot healthier.  Chipotle sells organic white corn instead of yellow corn, which has genetically modified stock.  They have organic beans, organic chicken, and grain feed beef.

(This is a video about Polyface Farms, where Chipotle buys its meat)

Polyface Farms

Chipotle has also practiced sustainability by often re-using existing buildings, instead of building brand new restaurants.  They also open small stores in urban settings near public transportation.  Most Chipotle restaurants have stainless steel or galvanized steel, which is made up of recycled material.  Seventy-Five restaurants use solar power and in some restaurants they use local produce. 

Chipotle is a more expensive fast food joint because the food is a higher quality.  I personally don’t mind paying more for food that will benefit my health and environment in the long run.  I believe that if more people saw “Food, Inc.” they would feel the same way.  The treatment of these the animals and workers is absolutely awful, and if choosing between Chipotle and Burger King helps support sustainability, Chipotle has my vote! Chipotle is setting a great example for not only fast food restaurants, but any restaurant! 

Sources: http://www.austinenergy.com/energy%20efficiency/programs/green%20building/Resources/Case%20Studies/comm_chipotle.html

http://www.triplepundit.com/2009/10/75-chipotle-mexican-grill-restaurants-go-green-with-solar/