Chipotle raises local produce goal

by Monica Watrous    View Me on Google+
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DENVER — Chipotle Mexican Grill said it plans to serve more than 20 million lbs of locally grown produce in its restaurants this year, up from its 2013 goal of 15 million lbs.

The burrito chain will source bell peppers, cilantro, red onions, jalapeños, oregano, romaine and tomatoes when seasonally available from more than 45 local farms around the country, as well as avocados and lemons from local growers in select cities.

“We are changing the way people think about and eat fast-food,” said Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-chief executive officer. “That means pushing ourselves to find the best quality ingredients – ingredients that have traditionally been available only in high-end restaurants and specialty food markets – and making them available in a way that is accessible to really mainstream customers.”

In addition to supporting small- and mid-sized farms in rural communities around the country, Chipotle said locally grown produce tastes better because it arrives at restaurants closer to harvest. All of Chipotle’s local produce is grown within 350 miles of the restaurants where it is served, according to the company.

Additionally, the chain said last year it served more than 135 million lbs of meat from animals raised humanely and without antibiotics or added hormones, and more than 46 million lbs of dairy products made with milk from pasture-based cows.

Chipotle also has committed to using organic ingredients when possible, with plans to source more than 7 million lbs of organic black beans and 1.2 million lbs of organic wheat this year.
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