Local's no joke at Chipotle. The burrito purveyor is on track to serve 10 million pounds of local produce this year.
While taco trucks will always be the first stop for authentic tortilla-bound meals, fast food chain Chipotle does a respectable job bringing consistently tasty burritos to the masses. What's cool about Chipotle, as GOOD has noted before, is that it puts serving high-quality, fresh, and, more than ever, local food at the center of its business strategy. Just last week the chain announced plans to double the volume of locally grown produce served, from about 5 million pounds in 2010 to more than 10 million in 2011.
Chipotle has been using local food since 2008, when it sourced 25 percent of at least one produce item at each restaurant from farms less than 350 miles away. The local foods program is part of a larger vision to change "traditional 'fast food' culture" called Food with Integrity. Other achievements of this plan include using only rBGH-free dairy products, sourcing 40 percent organic beans, and using mostly naturally-raised meat. The company wants all of its dairy to come from pasture-raised cows within the year.
Of course big business's idea of what it means to be local tends to differ from that of the farmers' market set. Allowing a 350-mile radius for each restaurant means that a Chipotle in Manhattan could ship in "local" lettuce from Southern Virginia. However, sourcing local food on a large scale isn't easy, and it's encouraging to see a fast food company take this on in a serious way.
Does Chipotle's professed commitment to local food make you more likely to eat there? What else would you like to see Chipotle take on as part of its Food with Integrity program?