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In Defense of Chipotle

by jenny sansouci on September 3, 2009

I love Chipotle.

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for this place. I’m not ashamed of it.  In fact, I’m proud of it.

Although I eat at Chipotle much less often now than I did in college (back when we got those highly-coveted “free burrito coupons” with our meal plans), I have a newfound respect for it.

When you think of Chipotle, you may automatically think “high in calories” or “owned by McDonald’s” – therefore giving it a negative stigma.  So why, you may ask, am I writing about Chipotle on a health blog?

I’ll tell you why, my friends.  A little thing I like to call integrity. “Food With Integrity” is Chipotle’s slogan, and for a reason.

First of all, I should mention that McDonald’s no longer has anything to do with Chipotle. In 1999, McDonald’s bought a controlling share in the business. They sold it all in 2006. McDonald’s has no hand in Chipotle’s food or the way the company is run.

As far as the calories go, sure, there are a lot of calories in a burrito. But there’s much more to a food’s integrity than calorie content.

So what does “Food With Integrity” mean, exactly? According to Chipotle’s founder, Steve Ells, it means including “things like unprocessed, seasonal, family-farmed, sustainable, nutritious, naturally raised, added hormone free, organic, and artisanal” products.  After learning about the horrors of the conventional meat industry, Steve made the commitment and goal of only serving naturally-raised meat (“humanely raised, without antibiotics“) at Chipotle. Currently, all of their chicken and pork is raised this way, and most of the beef.  They use organic produce and dairy without added hormones – all cheese and sour cream is rBGH free! Since the initiative began in 2001, they’ve been making these changes to every item on the menu. They also make an effort to buy local produce, which of course we love.


Chipotle Ingredients

The goal of the Food With Integrity plan is this: “encouraging growers to pursue humane and healthy practices, and rewarding farmers who eschew mass production in favor of quality. It means new and higher expectations from all of us about what we consume every day.”

As of now, Chipotle is serving more naturally-raised meat than any other restaurant in the country, and encouraging farmers to eliminate the use of hormones altogether.

As an added bonus, they’ve been building all of their new restaurants with sustainable architecture – producing certified green Chipotles. They also assisted with the marketing of Food, Inc (a film documenting the harmful practices of industrial food production) by giving away free screenings.

I could not be happier to learn that my all-time favorite burrito joint is a fast-food pioneer. I’m lovin’ it! 🙂


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

rebecca September 4, 2009 at 8:35 am

Jenny, you know I share your deep love for the chipotle burrito. you turned me on the their salads when we went veggie a few years ago, and I still love those salads – amazing – but I feel good knowing that their meat and dairy is in good faith. I would consider adding some of my forbidden items back into my meal!


kawan September 9, 2009 at 7:00 am

chipotle! i remember when you and becc couldn’t believe that i had never tried chipotle and i remeber thinking it was not that big of a deal. lifechanging. epic, even, as zach would say. i love my new york family.


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