Why Chipotle Chooses Grass-Fed Meat

grass fed cows photo

Image credit: macieklew/Flickr

Since TreeHugger Best of Green winner Chipotle Mexican Grill cut ties with McDonald's in 2006, it has embraced "food with integrity" as a guiding principle.

As Chipotle Founder Steve Ells recently told smartplanet, its as much about changing the way people think about "fast food" as it is about creating the tastiest, most humane, burrito possible.Ells explains that from the earliest days of the first Chipotle in Denver, Colorado, he knew that using fresh ingredients was important. Along the way, however, he realized that fresh wasn't enough. "We need to understand," Ells told smartplanet, "where [our food] comes from and how it was raised."

When he visited the farm raising the pork for his restaurants, it was immediately clear that industrial meat was neither sustainable nor humane. Ells said:

I saw an environment where the animals were suffering, raised in giant buildings with no access to the outside, no fresh air, giant waste lagoons outside that create an awful stench and all sorts of environmental problems associated with these large scale operations, including polluted water and air.

There is simply no comparison to the life of the grass-fed animals the company now sources. Living on a farm where they are allowed to roam—to live the life pigs and cows have evolved to live—allows Chipotle to serve a burrito that is better for the mind, body, and planet.

Sure, some people have questioned the emissions benefits of grass-fed beef, and thanks to a lifetime of conditioning, many people might prefer the taste of corn-fed and CAFO-raised meat. For Steve Ells, overcoming these hesitations is about charting a new course for his restaurants—and changing the way we think about "fast food."

Read more about Chipotle:
Chipotle: Food With Integrity
75 Chipotle Restaurants Get Solar Panels - Chain Becomes Largest Solar Power Producer in Industry
Chipotle Institutes Local Produce Program
Chipotle Mexican Grill Opens With On-Site Wind Turbine

Related Content on Treehugger.com