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Chipotle Pledges to Serve More Than 15 Million Pounds of Locally Grown Produce in 2013

Image credit: Chipotle

Chipotle Mexican Grill says it plans to serve more than 15 million pounds of locally grown produce in its restaurants this year, up from its 2012 goal of 10 million pounds.

As one of the few national restaurant companies with a significant commitment to using local produce on a large scale, Chipotle has steadily increased its locally sourced produce supply since beginning the program in 2008.

The Mexican food chain says it will work with a network of more than 70 local, family-owned farms to provide bell peppers, red onions, jalapenos, oregano, and romaine lettuce for its restaurants. Chipotle claims restaurants in Florida and California also serve locally grown tomatoes, as well as lemons and avocados in California.

Chipotle claims to serve more “Responsibly Raised” meat than any other restaurant company in the United States — more than 120 million pounds in 2012. The company is careful only to purchase meat from animals raised in a humane way and free of sub-therapeutic antibiotics or added hormones.

Additionally, all dairy products Chipotle serves, such as cheese and sour cream, are made with milk from cows never given the synthetic hormone rBGH, and more than 34 million pounds of all of its dairy is made with milk from pasture-raised cows. The company also currently uses organically grown oregano and cilantro and plans to serve 8.5 million pounds of organically grown black and pinto beans this year.

“We are changing the way people think about and eat fast food,” said Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle. “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 way that is accessible and affordable.”

With many people paying more attention to food and where it comes from, locally grown produce is on the rise. A 2012 Mintel survey of 2,000 adults found that more than half of U.S. consumers say it’s more important to buy local produce than organic options. Most produce travels some 1,500 miles from where it is grown to where it is consumed.

Chipotle says all its locally grown produce comes from within 350 miles of the restaurants where it will be served.

Mike Hower is Marketing Communications Manager at Carbon Lighthouse. With a background on both sides of the communications podium — as a journalist and strategic communicator — he is committed to helping organizations address climate change through sustainability innovation. Previously,… [Read more about Mike Hower]

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