The Denver-cased "Mexican" chain, which has a growing presence in SoCal, has announced plans to strengthen its commitment to buying locally grown produce, promising that by this summer it will be "purchasing at least 35 percent of at least one bulk produce item in all of its restaurants from local farmers when it is seasonally available". This represents a 10 per cent increase over Chipotle's 2008 program.
Chipotle (motto: "Food with Integrity") is already known for its commitment to sustainable food and naturally raised meat, but this news is laudable, especially in these recessionary times, as locally grown produce can be more expensive and the increase is often passed on directly to the consumer.
According to a survey commissioned by the company, more than half of adults say they prefer to eat at restaurants that buy produce from local farms.
As Bill Niman (yes, he of Niman Ranch fame, and Chipotle's "sustainable agriculture advisor") explains: "We hope that by getting more people to eat food that was grown in essentially their back yard, we will help generate more interest in eating locally."
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The fact that the chain supports the Slow Food Movement is ironic, considering the speed at which combos (more than 60,000 of 'em!) are created. The slightest hesitation and you're trampled underfoot. As a friend of mine put it: "You come out feeling like you've been mugged... They've taken your money, and you have this thing in your hand, but you can't even remember what you ordered."