I've always liked Chipotle better than any other fast-food restaurant, and now I've learned that they are leaders in supporting sustainable, humane, organic food production methods -- going against the grain of our industrial food system and accepting lower profits as the cost of taking this stand.
From Time Magazine's cover story dated 8/31/09 ("The Real Cost of Cheap Food") --
"[T]he Mexican fast-food chain Chipotle...now sources its pork from Niman Ranch*and gets its other meats and much of its beans from natural and organic sources. It's part of a commitment that Chipotle founder Steve Ells made years ago, not just because sustainable ingredients were better for the planet but because they tasted better too--a philosophy he calls food with integrity. It's not cheap for Chipotle--food makes up more than 32% of its costs, the highest in the fast-food industry. But to Ells, the taste more than compensates....'We put a lot of energy into finding farmers who are committed to raising better food,' says Ells."
Bravo and three cheers, Chipotle!
By the way, early in this decade McDonald's was a majority owner of Chipotle, but it pulled out in 2006. The company has thrived since then and now has more than 500 locations, including more than 15 in metro Cincinnati.
* Niman Ranch "has knitted together hundreds of small-scale farmers into a network that sells all-natural pork, beef and lamb to retailers and restaurants. In doing so, it leverages economies of scale while letting the farmers take proper care of their land and animals."