“Organic fast food” just doesn’t seem to go well together. This is because organic food is not cheap, it does not come by quickly, and it takes a lot of effort to grow organic food. All three factors go 100% against what a fast food chain is looking for.
Defining Organic Food
First of all, what exactly is organic food? Organic food is any type of food that was made without any synthetic processing, any inorganic/synthetic chemicals such as pesticides, no hormone injections, and chemical fertilizers. Crops are grown naturally as they would in the wild and animals, such as cattle, are raised on vegetation and completely chemical free. Nothing is chemically altered; pesticides and antibiotics are given to the plants and animals respectively. Everything is natural as they would be in the wild.
When you speak of organic fast food this therefore speaks of fast food chains relying on beef that came from cows raised on chemical-free vegetation, raised without antibiotics and other harmful drugs, and no hormone changes. All of the vegetations are free from chemical pesticides and fertilizers. You are eating burritos and burgers crafted from pure, 100% natural ingredients. This is safe for the animals, for the plants, and of course for the environment.
As mentioned above, the main problem is that organic food is expensive to make and sell. However you can find a few fast food companies that do cater to this system and one great example is Chipotle Mexican Grill.
Getting to Know Chipotle
Chipotle started out back in 1993 and was founded by Steve Ells. It initially opened in Denver, Colorado (which is also where the company HQ is located) close to the University of Denver. Steve Ells took notice of the growing popularity of Mexican food and decided to take advantage of this before it exploded into the phenomenon it is today. For the uninitiated, the fast food chain’s name is a reference to the chipotle, the Mexican-Spanish term for a dried and smoked jalapeño chili pepper. For several years McDonald’s was the company’s biggest investor until they divested in 2006. From 1998 to 2005, under McDonald’s investments, Chipotle grew from 16 branches to over 500, spread all across the country. To this date there is currently well over 1,400 Chipotle Mexican Grill locations, employing well over 37,000 employees.
The Quality of Chipotle
However the real reason Chipotle is famous isn’t because of their focus on Mexican food and it isn’t because of McDonald’s interference either. The real key to Chipotle’s success is their focus on high quality food and high quality service. As a matter of fact they only serve five main dishes: burrito, burrito bowl, fajita burrito, salads, and tacos. Steve Ells once said that by focusing on a short menu they can concentrate on these items and do them better than anybody else in the market.
Another key element is the fact that Chipotle focuses on organic fast food. This is a part of their Food with Integrity statement that they have been pushing forward in recent years. This whole campaign began in 2001.
Chipotle’s Organic Fast Food Campaign
Chipotle has declared that all of the animals they use are raised responsibly and fall under animal rights and conservation laws, they are free from chemical alterations and antibiotics, and they are free from added hormones. The only mix-up occurs during switches in supply chains where some non-organic meat could get served into the mix.
Chipotle does serve organic chicken, pork, and beef. As for the chicken, Chipotle only uses the meat coming from the thighs and legs of the chicken while the breast is then distributed to Panera Bread Company. Panera Bread is another great example of a healthy fast food company and as a matter of fact they show their nutritional facts for every item that they offer. The company is known to have served over 60 million pounds or 27 million kilograms of organically produced meat in a year, making it the company to have served the most organic meat.
Not everything in Chipotle is 100% organic. They are still struggling to get the beans to be organically raised. At least 40% of all the beans in Chipotle Mexican Grill are organic beans and about 5% come from conservation tilling methods.
Organic Fast Food is Good for the People
This Food with Integrity campaign is not just good for the animals and the environment. Organic fast food is also very good for the farmers. Chipotle has declared time and time again that they want to focus on giving more opportunities for local farmers. A good 35% of all their produce comes from local farms and ranches. This ensures that each local chain of Chipotle is supplied by their own farms instead of being purchased elsewhere. This is good for the farmers since it provides more income to them and it is good for Chipotle since they have more say on quality control.
Of course organic food is good for the customers. Without antibiotics, added hormones, pesticide, and other harmful chemicals you are sure that there is no health danger presented by their food. Everything is as they should be; 100% natural and safe for consumption. This doesn’t mean that you can just sit down and chomp on a dozen burritos per day though – fats, cholesterol, bad carbohydrates, and calories are still an issue. However, Chipotle is one of the few restaurants that serve as little calories as possible. A burrito bowl from Chipotle could serve around 360 calories compared to the 800+ calories of an average cheeseburger.
Putting Two and Two Together
Putting all that together you get one really good fast food chain that really knows how to serve quality food. They ensure that everything put on the table is safe, environment-friendly, and free from any harmful chemicals. Their organic campaign has also proved to be a good thing for the farmers that grow the vegetables and raise the animals. It has been mentioned that offering organic fast food is not exactly cheap or easy but Chipotle does it with dignified commitment, not only for profit but also for the benefit of all.