Quick, name your Top Five favorite fast food restaurants? If you didn’t name Chipotle then either you don’t have one close by to you, or you don’t consider Chipotle “fast food”
While we are still waiting for our first Chipotle in Jupiter, FL (Steve Ells are you listening?), I ate at the Chipotles in Orlando very frequently when I was in college.
“A health blog is recommending Chipotle! A health blog is recommending Chipotle!”
I am not recommending Chipotle as an everyday meal. I do think Chipotle makes one hell of a cheat meal and a great alternative to most fast food choices.
With the right menu choices, Chipotle could be a restaurant more frequented than most, but don’t worry, I’m not going to recommend a “Chipotle diet.”
Should Reason #1 be TASTE. OF COURSE!
Chipotle isn’t exactly a Paleo dining experience, but I’ve always been amazed how you can literally taste the freshness there.
Wait! I must be brainwashed by all the Chipotle commercials to think I’m tasting freshness.
Wait! Have I ever seen a Chipotle commercial on TV?
That brings me right to Reason #2: I love the way Chipotle spends their money. Chipotle doesn’t spend on slick marketing to kids, instead it reinvests in the quality of its ingredients. Something ALL restaurants should do.
Chipotle has had amazing growth over the past decade. Its philosophies force it to reinvest in REAL FOOD sources in order to keep up with their growth. A new Chipotle opens almost every day!!!
Every time two Chipotle restaurants open, another farmer whose pigs are naturally raised can join the Niman Ranch network and become a supplier to the chain. When Chipotle started there were only about 50 to 60 of these farmers, now there is between 600 and 700.
Reason #3: Chipotle has food related goals! Most restaurants can only see one thing, dollar signs $$. They search for the lowest bids on ingredients, regardless of where they actually come from.
Chipotle not only wants to know where their ingredients come from. They want to have a hand in their production.
They have plans to build their own dairy cooperative in order to get cheese and sour cream from pasture raised cows. They already don’t use cows with any synthetic hormones and 30% of their cows are pasture raised.
65% of American corn is from genetically modified crops. Chipotle uses 0% GM crops.
All cilantro is locally grown, 40% of all their beans are organically grown, and they shoot for 10% of their avocados to be organic.
Their lettuce is sourced from local farms.
They are also undergoing a project with Good Shepherd Poultry Range to resurrect heritage breeds of chicken that can survive on pastures.
Reason #4: Chipotle is trying to change the world for the better! As Chipotle’s chief marketing officer puts it, “Typically, fast-food marketing is a game of trying to obscure the truth. The more people know about most fast-food companies, the less likely they’d want to be a customer.”
If you are un-impressed so far and don’t think Chipotle deserves to be on Fast Company’s List of the Most Innovative Companies at #34, let’s remember what this company is…
This is not a non-profit trying to save the rainforests, this is a publicly traded company that must produce growing profits quarter after quarter in order to please investors.
They are in an industry known for unethical and unhealthy food practices. An industry that has spent more money fighting off government regulation, then actually enforcing their own safe and healthy practices.
As Steve Ells tells it, “There have been many opportunities over the years to take all that away and introduce highly processed foods, but we’ve done just the opposite.”
I applaud them for doing this and putting care behind their ingredients.
Reason #5: Chipotle is debunking the myth that REAL FOOD has to be expensive!
In 2011 total annual revenue reached $2.2 billion. And despite higher food costs than traditional fast food stores, they still operated at an amazing 25.9% margin.
Chipotle owes its profit growth to a very simple concept known as economies of scale. For those of you out there who were not Economics Majors, it simply means, the more something is in demand and the more it is produced, the more the per unit cost will go down.
Just five years ago, there were very few “farmer’s markets” and the ones you could find had exorbitant prices on their foods. Now with higher demand for organic vegetables and fruits, there are more markets available with lower prices for foods. This is economies of scale at its finest. Local farmers can grow more food and pass on the savings to customers.
As we demand more organic fruits and vegetables, they will not only become easier to access but cheaper as well (not taking into account the U.S. Government deflating our paper currency value).
This is one of my long term goals in my life. I want to encourage people to VOTE everyday with their food choices. Vote for REAL FOODS and those companies and farmers looking to make a profit will listen.
Although not optimal in a Paleo diet, if you’re going to eat out, eat at restaurants that truly care about their ingredients. Also, make wise choices when eating out. Don’t load up on everything that isn’t “Paleo approved”, like chips, rice, corn, beans, and cheese.
And as always, we love seeing your “paleo-fied recipes” of restaurant meals cooked at home. Check out my brother’s latest Zinger-esque recipe that will remind you of the Ale House staple. I think a Chipotle bowl of goodness will be on the list now of “to-makes”.
As Chipotle’s founder and co-CEO Steve Ells says, “This is a journey. It’s not like you can flip a switch and have 100% free-ranging beef, and chicken, and pork on the menu at every restaurant in the United States. It just doesn’t happen like that. This is something that’s going to take time. But I think the movement is gaining steam now.”
You’re damn right it is Steve!
Here’s the one and only piece of marketing I’ve ever seen from Chipotle and its message is truly awesome and inspiring. It might even make you cry just a little bit.