9 Organic Fast-Food Restaurants

The concepts of fast food and organic food may seem incompatible, but there's no reason why they can't overlap. Organic food is safer, healthier, and more sustainable than many other options, yet that doesn't mean it has to be slower. And while fast food typically prioritizes quickness over quality, it is possible to incorporate organic ingredients without sacrificing speed.

In fact, some fast food restaurants are now embracing organic food, helping diversify a crowded industry in need of fresh ideas. Here are a few examples, all working to provide food that's speedy, satisfying, and sustainable.

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Chipotle

Photo: Gregglesworth [CC BY-SA 2.0]/Flickr

Chipotle Mexican Grill was started in Denver in 1993 by Steve Ells and is known for its guacamole and burritos — its large (organic) burritos. The folks at Chipotle believe food should come packed with integrity. That means free range meats that are mostly antibiotic-free and vegetarian-fed. Not all their beans are organic yet, but the percentage is rising quickly.

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Evos

Courtesy Evos.

Evos is where old-school fast-food fans go when they're jonesing for a burger and fries. Evos burgers are free of antibiotics and slow roasted in an oven. The shakes avoid the standard fast-food syrups and are made with organic milk and sugar, fresh fruit and juice. Instead of deep frying its fries, it blasts them with hot air in a process it calls air baking. It also uses organic ingredients whenever it can.

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GustOrganic

Courtesy GustOrganic.

GustOrganic is a New York City restaurant that servers 100-percent organic food. It was started by Buenos Aires native Alberto Gonzalez, who first had the idea 10 years ago while traveling to NYC and finding a lack of the good, fresh food he ate growing up. He was working as a sustainable business consultant and naturally fused his vision for a sustainable future into the day-to-day flow of running a great restaurant.

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O'Naturals

Courtesy Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce.

Started in Portland, Maine, by Stonyfield Farm founder Gary Hirshburg and his wife, Meg, O'Naturals offers quick dishes that are tasty and healthy, using locally grown ingredients whenever possible. I'm a fan of the chicken TMB (tomato, mozzarella, basil) sandwich and love the ginger carrot soup. My kids always order the mac-n-cheese and can't stop eating the brick oven flatbread made by the O'Naturals staff.

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Burgerville

Photo: Melissa&Shane; [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0]/Flickr

Burgerville has 39 restaurants spread around Washington state and Oregon and has been in business since 1961, when George Propstra opened up shop in Vancouver, Washington. Burgerville was serving fresh, locally made foods decades before it was the hip thing to do. The restaurant has a solid fast-food foundation of burgers made with antibiotic- and hormone-free beef.

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Sellers Markets

Courtesy Black's Farmwood.

Sellers Markets is a small chain with three restaurants in San Francisco, as friendly a city for a green fast-food chain to launch as you can find. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and has a wide variety of egg scrambles, salads, sandwiches (both cold and hot), pizza, lasagna, chicken, and even meatloaf, as well as healthy wine and beer.

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Pizza Fusion

Courtesy Pizza Fusion.

Pizza Fusion uses a fleet of hybrid cars to deliver their pizza, buys wind credits to offset 100 percent of its energy usage, uses only eco-friendly cleaning supplies, stocks spudwear utensils (100-percent potato) that biodegrade in 50 days, serves its food in corn-based biodegradable plastics, and all Pizza Fusion restaurants are LEED-certified.

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Pret a Manger

Photo: Michael_Lehet [CC BY-ND 2.0]/Flickr

Pret a Manger was brought to life in London in 1968, and starts its online menu off with "Pret operates a bit like a restaurant." It gets all its ingredients fresh in the morning and gives anything left over at the end of the day to charity. Its food is free of any chemical preservatives and additives and includes a wide range of sandwiches, soups, hot wraps, sushi, salads, baked goods, cakes and sweets.