I know I typically like to extol the wonders of our local independent restaurants, but today I wanted to give some props to a pretty big chain -- one with more than 900 restaurants. Can you guess which one? Chipotle Mexican Grill.
I'm giving the restaurant its due because it is making a real effort to serve meat that has not been industrially-raised. And for me, when a chain this size makes this commitment, it is noteworthy.
And Chipotle has actually been doing this for the better part of the last decade. Now you won't find that all its meats are coming from natural farms, but you can be sure that more and more chicken, pork and beef are coming from good farms. The company's CEO, Steve Ells, publicly supports stronger USDA standards for naturally-raised meats. In addition, Chipotle has worked with both Bill Niman, formerly of Niman Ranch (and now running BN Ranch) and one of our own local (and national) good farming heroes, Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm.
For us locally, if you dig into one of their burritos or tacos (like these I had for lunch today) and ask for chicken, you can be sure the chicken were humanely-raised by Bell & Evans, based just over 100 miles away from us in central, PA.
Now unfortunately I have yet to confirm the pork or beef they serve locally are coming from top-flight outfits. (However, in some other parts of the country you can find this.)
Chatting with the managers at the Bethesda and SS shops, neither could tell me exactly what farms or farms raise their cows and pigs. So at least for me, till I find out, I'll stick with the chicken and veggie options.
And beyond the meat, Chipotle has made sure its sour cream and all of its dairy products come free of artificial bovine growth hormones. And the company's local food initiative is making strides to source other products from local farms too.
Also, if you still think Chipotle is still owned by McDonald's, you are mistaken. Mickey D's fully divested their interest in 2006. Chipotle is now a publicly-traded company. They also appear to be doing quite well for their shareholders. A quick look sees their stock price has risen 167% since the start of the year. Wow! They're trading at over $235 per share. I would not have guessed this, that's for sure.
But I am glad to see it. While I do like my independent restaurants, when I see chains doing the right thing, I want to reward them with my business. But obviously for Chipotle, their support comes from people who really like their food and not just because of their sourcing policies. And I'm glad to see it.
On another completely unrelated topic, check out this black pasta (homemade with sepia ink) with a creamy cherry tomato sauce and shrimp I made the other night. I had a pic so I thought I'd share it. Yummy!
OK, go get yourself a burrito and feel good about it!