(Beyond Pesticides, April 15, 2010) As part of its “Food with Integrity” mission, Chipotle Mexican Grill, a national chain of about 1,000 restaurants, is making the commitment to support sustainable agriculture by increasing the percentage of organic ingredients, such as organic black and pinto beans on its food menu, and eventually
transitioning to a completely organic menu. Chipotle’s efforts to use ingredients from more sustainable sources have led to a direct reduction of chemical pesticide use on its ingredients of nearly 100,000 pounds since 2005.
In its position paper entitled, “Position on Pesticide Use,” posted in January 2010, Chipotle outlined its efforts to expand its commitment to sustainable foods aimed at bringing ”˜more positive change in the nation’s food supply.’ To date, Chipotle serves more naturally raised meat (from animals that are raised in a humane way, never given antibiotics or added hormones, and fed a pure vegetarian diet) than any other restaurant company, making them the only national restaurant company with a significant commitment to local and organic produce. The restaurant currently serves more than 70 million pounds of naturally raised meat — including 100% pork, 100% chicken, and more than 60% beef. Chipotle also serves dairy products (cheese and sour cream) made with milk from cows that are not treated with the synthetic hormone rBGH. The company said it will continue to increase the use of organically grown beans, with over 40 percent of all its beans coming from organic sources this year. This translates to 7.2 million pounds of organic beans, and a 36,466-pound reduction in chemical pesticide use. Chipotle has also contracted to purchase organically grown cilantro for more than 50 percent of all of its restaurants in 2010.
Chipotle’s founder and co-CEO, Steve Ells, testified to the U.S. Senate in March to support the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) which, if passed, would require a re-review of seven classes of antibiotics that are important to human medicine, but are use for livestock. Chipotle hopes its “Food with Integrity” mission would serve as an example to industry which often claims that it is too difficult or too costly to change to sustainable practices, and changes the way people think about and eat fast food.
Beyond Pesticides applauds Chipotle’s efforts to transition to organic and support sustainable agricultural practices. Organic food contributes to better health through reduced pesticide exposure for all and increased nutritional quality, and according to Chipotle, is in fact, better tasting. Organic farming and food systems are holistic, work with nature rather than relying on inputs such as chemical pesticides and fertilizers, exhibit higher standards for the welfare of animals, and do not allow routine use of antibiotics. Organic agriculture also protects the local environment, waterways, air quality, and farmworkers and their families from chemicals that have been shown to cause a myriad of chronic health effects, such as cancer, endocrine disruption and a series of degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease. For more information of the many benefits of organic food, please visit Beyond Pesticides’ Organic Food program page.