Few fast-casual chains are making the kind of strides in ethical practices like Chipotle. On the heels of their announcement that they'll be labeling ingredients with genetically modified organisms, the chain has unveiled plans to use 15 million pounds of locally grown produce this year -- up from 10 million pounds in 2012.
Local produce refers to that sourced within 350 miles of a restaurant. And to hit its proposed figure for this year, Chipotle will look to over 70 small farms to supply its staples -- red onions, oregano, bell peppers, romaine lettuce and jalapeños. Restaurants in Florida and California will benefit from access to the states' agriculture. Chipotle outlets in California, for example, will serve locally grown tomatoes, lemons and avocados. The chain started to serve locally grown produce in 2008.
The added practices of labeling GMOs and using more local produce are part of the chain's well-publicized commitment to serve "food with integrity." This has included using dairy made from cows free of rBGH hormone, organically grown oregano and cilantro, and antiobiotic-free meat.
Last October, Chipotle founder and CEO Steve Ells toyed with the idea of adding drive-thru windows and a breakfast menu. It appears these potential additions were shelved in favor of improving ingredient quality -- changes to which we can toast our Patrón margaritas.
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