Chipotle buys local – but is it safe?

At what point did the language of sustainability get co-opted by organo-local business types?

I ride my bike around town (which is a health hazard in Manhattan), we had a fabulous salad of greens grown in our own garden last night for dinner along with the tuna steak (which wasn’t grown in Kansas), yet when I speak at a local panel or read something, it’s all these folks falling over themselves to be declared green.

Chipotle Mexican Grill will expand its local produce program this summer, purchasing at least 35 percent of at least one bulk produce item in all of its restaurants from local farmers when it is seasonally available. This represents a 10 percent increase over last year’s program, the first of its kind for any national restaurant chain.

"Our commitment to cooking and preparing food with more sustainable ingredients has always been about doing the right thing; the right thing for better tasting food, the right thing for the environment, and the right thing for farmers," says Steve Ells, founder, chairman, and co-CEO of Chipotle.

As a lowly consumer, I can only hope that Chipotle holds its local suppliers to some sort of microbiological standards for food safety – maybe they cook the poop out of everything.

I don’t want to hear about how sustainable it is – unless Chipotle or anyone else is going to provide data on water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and microbiological loads on local produce versus the produce provided by the big ‘ole big guys. Do farmers get pissed that anyone thinks they can grow food to feed a bunch of people? Or do they just smirk, bemused?

Once again, Chipotle is the douchebag of fast food.

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time