Chipotle: Food With Integrity

If you heard of a business that was so successful that it was once owned by McDonalds, went from 20 to 300 outlets in five years and was profiled in Fast Company magazine, you might reasonably expect that enterprise was not necessarily brimming in scruples. But is seems the reverse might be the case. Chipotle restaurants serve freshly made burritos and other Mexican styled food and one of the reasons for their success is attributed to their 'Food With Integrity' manifesto(PDF). It's "as simple as better-tasting burritos, and no less ambitious than revolutionizing the way America grows, gathers, serves and eats its food. Doing all these things better, from start to finish, is our mission."

This mission soon found Chipotle being the first national restaurant chain to serve free-range pork, obtained from Niman Ranch. "These animals are not confined in stressful 'factories.' They live outdoors or in deeply bedded pens, so they are free to run, roam, root and socialize. They are not given hormones or antibiotics. Consequently the pork they produce has a natural, moist, delicious flavor." Other naturally-raised meats followed, such as chicken and beef. Their lead on free range meat has garnered the endorsement of famed ethicist, Peter Singer and the US Animal Welfare Institute.

They also provide a range of vegetarian dishes and use a vegetable-based rennet in their cheeses. There always seems to be an Achilles Heel, and in this case, unions would like Chipotle to extend their manifesto to include "Work With Dignity", so farm workers in tomato fields might earn a fair wage. ::Chipotle (Flash alert).