Fast food company Chipotle Mexican Grill announced plans this week to buy at least a quarter of its produce from local small and mid-size farms. The California-based company, with 730 units nationwide, hopes to incorporate romaine lettuce, green bell peppers, jalapenos and red onions from local farms ‘when seasonably available.’
“This is another way we are changing the way the world thinks about and eats fast food,” said Steve Ells, founder, chairman and chief executive of Chipotle. “Great chefs like Alice Waters [of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif.] and Dan Barber [of Blue Hill in New York City] pioneered the idea of serving locally sourced food. Now we are taking it to a much larger scale so everyone can eat better.”
Grower Holthouse Farms will be providing peppers and lettuce to restaurants in the Midwest region. The move is part of Chipotle’s “Food With Integrity” initiative that also includes hormone-free, vegetarian-fed meats and organically grown beans.
“Chipotle is the first national restaurant that has made a conscious effort to support the local economy where their restaurants are located,” Kirk Holthouse said. “My hat is off to them, and we are hoping the program is a boost to the local farming economy and our bottom line.”