Chipotle Uses Video to Promote Local Sourcing

On August 30, 2011, in Food, by Chris Baccus
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My Bullshit Meter goes off when I see fast food chains trying to position themselves as being friendly and supportive of small farms. Some marketing of local food support is utter nonsense and downright missing the point. For example, we kept seeing billboards from McDonald’s stating how they use “Local Michigan Eggs” which left me wondering – And? And are those eggs from chickens treated humanly from non-factory farming operations without antibiotics and cramped miserable conditions?

I never took a picture of the McDonald’s local egg billboard, but they did other “localwashing” ads with products in the Northwest, “from here” campaign, looking to showcase local factory farms they source from.

The good news is Chipotle isn’t McDonald’s. They have quite a few initiatives ongoing around local food and improving the fast food supply chain. More here on the Haute Pasture blog: What is Food with Integrity?

And recently Chipotle announced they would double their efforts of sourcing locally from 5 million pounds to 10 million pounds of produce.

It’s also no coincidence the video features pigs instead of cows or chickens since Chipotle sources 100% of its pork from Niman Ranch, a company we buy from with a stellar reputation in the industry. Chipotle is trying to meet its “naturally raised” standards, but that has been more difficult to do.

In the end, I think Chipotle is serious and trying its best to demonstrate sustainable farming is possible as a source for fast food. I guess the video conveys this, but it is not very clear.

Basically, it’s nice imagery and music showing farm-to-Chipotle. There is no end message sharing what they are doing and I’m unsure others will get how focused Chipotle is on this topic. Perhaps their fans already know and this is simply a vehicle for their advocates to spread the more underlying message?

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Food Inc.’s Impact on Our Food Buying Decisions

On December 6, 2009, in Food, by Chris Baccus
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My wife and I watched a very interesting and, by seeing how my Sunday went, potentially life-changing film called “Food, Inc.” It’s basically a documentary that tries to cover the steps of where our food comes from. It’s not as graphic or gory as some documentaries I have watched on the subject of animal cruelty and factory farming. Sure it has a little of that and there are some tear-filled moments, but this film is less sensational and more informational.

After a long discussion with Stephanie about what changes we could make in our family’s diet we decided to do a bit of research. Fortunately, our diet is filled with a lot of home cooking with fresh meats, fruits and vegetables. Plus we buy a lot of organic products. Very little of our consumption is processed foods and we had already eliminated high-fructose corn syrup from our diets a few years ago after Stephanie watched an episode of Oprah featuring Doctor Oz.

What you learn in Food, Inc. is that “organic”, “natural”, “anti-biotic free” are labels that while good are simply scratching the surface and factory farming has bastardized many of the terms. So what do you look for?

Here is an article I highly recommend everyone to read: Avoiding Factory Farm Foods.

Read it and then come back to this article if you care to see what changes we did.

A few easy decisions involved changing our diary choices. We bought a lot of Organic but only milk from the Organic Valley brand. They are very well respected and a very easy decision when buying diary products so we are now exclusively using their products. Sure there are some other labels out there that are just as good, but Organic Valley is pretty much everywhere we shop.

We eat a lot of meat, mainly boneless, skinless chicken which is probably 70-80% of our meat choice. Stephanie doesn’t eat seafood and I eat very little of it. The other 20-30% is mainly beef and a little pork.

Our beef and pork are all bought from Costco. Well, I should say WERE bought from Costco. We’ve decided to go exclusively with a farm that we bought some meat from at last summer’s Birmingham Farmer’s Market – John Henry’s. It’s a local farm that raises pasture beef and pork. They do home delivery in our area. I used to bulk buy from Costco and individually freeze the meat with our Food Saver. Now I’ll just buy bulk from John Henry’s Farm and freeze.

Chicken can also be purchased from John Henry’s but I wanted to see if we could find it more easily since it’s a larger, more frequent part of our diet.

Organic Valley’s meat brand is Organic Prairie that sells prairie raised animals. Problem is it’s very hard to find (Whole Foods Rochester Hills and a Co-op in Ann Arbor) and the cost is exorbitant. For example, frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts run about $5 per chicken breast. Trader Joe’s frozen all-natural boneless, skinless chicken breasts I used to buy are about $2.75 per chicken breast. Of course the Trader Joe’s chicken is not free-range raised. The best route to buy free-range chicken is to buy from a local farm like my local farmer’s market meat seller, John Henry’s, which charges only $5.29 a pound (or about $3.50 per chicken breast.)

Fortunately, I went back to Trader Joe’s this evening and bought some of their individually wrapped packaged Organic Chicken. It’s about $4 per chicken breast ($7.49/lb.) The difference between the All-Natural I used to buy and the Organic is tremendous. Here is how the label reads on the Organic package:

“These certified organic birds eat organic feed their entire lives – their corn and soy based diet is free of antibiotics and animal by-products. They’re free range, raised in spacious, naturally lit houses and large, fenced outdoor pens, where they are free to roam.”

If you read the article I mentioned above, you’ll know the last sentence is very important and major difference from other suppliers. For instance, I went to Whole Foods’ website and it says nothing of the sort, only the following is mentioned:

Poultry

* No antibiotics — ever
* No animal byproducts in feed
* No beak trimming for broiler chickens and game hens
* Appropriate beak trimming for turkeys allowed when necessary*
* Appropriate litter provided for comfort and to satisfy natural foraging instincts

So there you have it, our changes after a day of research. I’m sure we’ll do some more looking into things with other products, but this at least gives us some good information to ‘vote with our dollars.’

Please share any brands, products, farms, etc. that you do to improve how and what you eat.

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