The first Chipotle restaurant opened in 1993 in Denver, Colorado. Now there are over 1,000 restaurants in this chain and it is was owned by McDonalds Corporation from 1998-2006. Each location is company-owned, and not franchised. The original owner never dreamed his restaurant would expand beyond his first 880 square foot restaurant, but Chipotle restaurants are now located in 36 states in the United States and one location each in Canada and London. Chipotle is the largest purchaser of natural meats in the US.
Food with Integrity
There is a growing effort to introduce delicious, healthier food alternatives into America’s busy lifestyles. This is seen in the efforts of the natural meats used at the Chipotle restaurant chain. What does the “Food with Integrity” motto mean at Chipotle? The animals raised for the meats used at Chipotle restaurants are naturally and sustainably raised by local farmers and ranchers, not in factory farms like most of the animals used for meat consumption in the United States. The conventionally raised chickens, pigs and cows are raised in confined quarters. To have more animals live to be slaughtered and enter the food supply quicker, antibiotics and hormones are used in the conventional animal feed. This prevents animal mortality and quickens the growth cycle of the animal so that more animal meat is available quicker for food in the US. Did you know that the animals on factory farms consume over three times the amount of antibiotics as people in the United States each year?
So, what does it mean to raise animals humanely without added antibiotics and hormones?
This is from the Chipotle website: “These are ranchers whose pigs are raised outside or in deeply bedded pens, are never given antibiotics and are fed a vegetarian diet. It’s the way animals were raised 50 years ago before huge factory farms changed the industry. We believe animals that are cared for in this way enjoy happier, healthier lives and produce the best pork we’ve ever tasted. We call this style of ranching naturally raised, and since 2001, we have sourced 100% of our pork from producers who follow these guidelines.”
The other animals raised for Chipotle restaurants are also raised on family farms or ranches, not in factory farms. The chickens used in Chipotle restaurants are 100% naturally raised which means no antibiotics are given. Nationally, no added hormones are allowed for any chickens grown in the United States. In addition, no arsenic is used with the chicken food. Some chicken growers think arsenic causes the chickens to grow faster.
The beef in Chipotle restaurants is 85% naturally raised with the goal to be 100% natural. There are not enough suppliers yet to provide this type of superior meat for this restaurant chain. The goal is to have all beef, pork and chickens to be pasture fed and 100% naturally raised for all Chipotle outlets within a couple of years.
Another product commonly used with cows is Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH). This is used to increase milk production eight times the normal for cows given this hormone. The milk, sour cream and cheese are free of rBGH for Chipotle. Thirty-five percent of the dairy cattle are pasture fed. The black beans are 40% organic with an initiative to increase this amount with organic suppliers.
The Chipotle Dining Experience
So, are you ready to enjoy a meal at your local Chipotle? This restaurant offer a wonderful gourmet menu: Burritos, Burrito bowls, Tacos, salads, guacamole and chips. It is a casual dining experience. There are no waitresses. To place an order, people must stand in line (which is often out the door at noon and evening time) but don’t worry as this line moves very quickly. When placing the food order, the food is prepared right in front of the customer at the counter behind clear glass. Rice is offered first, then the choice of beans (black or pinto). Next, it is time to select the choice of meat which has each been braised several hours with special herbs and spices. What is the meat of choice for you today? Will it be barbacoa (beef), carnitas (pork), steak or chicken today? My favorite is the carnitas as I enjoy this wonderful taste. The Cheese, sour cream, guacamole and lettuce are offered next. Next, the choice of sauce for the burrito, salad or taco is offered: mild tomato relish, medium corn relish, medium salsa or hot salsa.
There are also vegetarian items offered for the burritos and tacos for the vegetarians who eat here. The burrito bowl can also be ordered instead of the tortilla for carbohydrate conscious diners. The burrito is then wrapped in foil and is ready to go or the burrito bowl is covered with foil. This meal is a hearty meal and locally costs $6.25 before tax for the carnitas burrito or burrito bowl.
After the order is paid for, it is time to find a table to sit down and enjoy this outstanding food. Dining at the local Olathe Chipotle offers the choice of indoor dining or on an outdoor covered patio. Our family members have been regular customers at the local Olathe, KS Chipotle restaurant for several years. All the meat at our local Olathe restaurant is natural, the beans are organic and much of the produce is local. We enjoy this wonderful food a couple of times each month. We especially like knowing that this food is farmer or rancher raised with attention to no antibiotics and no hormone additives in the meat.
Future Fast Food Dream
The health conscious person who does eat meat deserves to have wonderful natural meats when eating out at a fast food restaurant. Customer demand is the key for the other fast food restaurant chains to follow suit and offer naturally grown meats. With restaurant demand, farmers and ranchers may be more willing to forego the antibiotics and hormones use in the normal cattle feed. Wouldn’t it be great if McDonalds Corporation, the former corporate owner of Chipotle, would follow suit and offer naturally raised meats at their fast food restaurants also?
Natural beef is sold at O’Naturals in the North east US, Colorado has Good Times burgers, and Florida has EVOS chain. On the west coast, Burgerville and Burgermeister chains serve naturally raised beef for their burgers. Besides Chipotle, natural chicken is sold at Arby’s, Panera Bread, Chick-fil-A, Chicken Out, and Au Bon Pain national chains. Not all of these chains are available across the US.
My wish is that other fast food restaurant chains will soon follow suit for these naturally raised meats and foods to be offered in an affordable manner at their restaurants. I wonder how many of the regular customers really know how special the naturally raised meat is at the local Chipotle restaurant.
Hormone free and antibiotic free meats are readily available in the super markets in our area. The cost is always more than conventionally grown meat that has added antibiotics and hormones. The taste is outstanding with no additives in the natural meat and I feel it is a healthier choice for our family. For people seeking natural meat and local produce when eating outside of the home, Chipotle has wonderful options for natural meat that is not available at most fast food restaurants. If you haven’t tried it before, check out your local Chipotle restaurant soon.
Animal Haven and Chipotle
This Saturday, September 4th, the Chipotle restaurants in the Kansas City area will donate 50% of the proceeds from your purchase, up to $5000 to benefit Animal Haven. Animal Haven sponsors pet adoptions, provides lost pet reunions, and is the largest no kill animal shelter in the Kansas City area.