by Luke Warner
Categories: Animals, Eats, Film/TV.


Let’s be clear from the get-go that I’m in no way suggesting that raising animals for food is okay, regardless of whether that process is made more “sustainable” or not. But I think the information below is valuable for people who are trying to make informed decision about their diet.

I’ve seen a lot of posts lately about Chipotle’s support for the new film Food, Inc. since they’ve been sponsoring screenings all over the country and promoting their food along the way.

Well, today I spotted an article by Carolynn Carreno from The Huffington Post. She began to question the reasons why, as advertised, only 35% of Chipotle’s beef is raised sustainably and the rest comes from places like those depicted in Food, Inc. Carreno found out from a Chipotle rep that “depending on what region you live in, you are either being served good meat, or bad.” Sounds like job half done to me.

Currently living in the Upper Midwest, I also hold a bit of a grudge about the insane serving size and caloric content of Chipotle’s food which, because of its attention to food origin, is perceived to be a better alternative to fast food.  But according to The Daily Plate, one Chipotle Chicken Burrito has 1179 calories, 47g of fat and 2989mg of sodium while a Big Mac only has 540 calories. Their “Food With Integrity” motto promotes food that’s “better tasting, coming from better sources, better for the environment, better for the animals, and better for the farmers who raise the animals and grow the produce.” But apparently not better for people who eat it. CEO Steve Ells has even said that the country “could be a lot healthier and happier if we just ate the right foods”…but that probably wouldn’t include Chipotle.

To top it all off, I was just apprised of some recent human rights concerns over the produce that it uses. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers writes, in a letter to CEO Steve Ells, “Your company has shown admirable leadership in working with – and incubating – meat suppliers willing to meet your higher standards. But your failure to do that same hard work in the Florida tomato industry – together with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) – threatens to render your announcement an empty gesture aimed more at public relations damage control than an effort to make real change.” Would like a little integrity to wash down your humble pie, Chipotle?

These guys might have remained under the radar if they hadn’t been siding themselves with a film that exposes the horrors of the food industry but you can’t have your 1000+ calorie burrito and eat it too.

  • Adriana

    Chipotle has done a whole lot more than any other [non-veg] chain restaurant to improve animal welfare. They source all their pork and now their chicken from the most humane sources available to them and are the ONLY CHAIN RESTAURANT to do so. Why are you picking on them instead of on Rubio’s (no welfare policies), La Salsa (no welfare policies), Green Burrito (no welfare policies), El Pollo Loco (no welfare policies), etc? Burger King has made some welfare improvements, but nothing like Chipotle.

  • Dani

    Chipotle is one of the only restaurants I can go as a vegetarian with my non-veg friends. They have great veg options. At least they try to do good; leave them alone!

  • erin raw foods

    I have a Chipolte here in my own town and have never set foot in the place (and always suggest to people to avoid chains… If you want to support LOCAL restaurants that might use LOCAL foods and LOCALLY owned) then don’t do chains.

    I will say though that at least Chipolte is trying (which is more than I can say about most chain restaurants)

    But it sounds like they need to try a lot harder. Thanks for the info on this Luke. Much appreciated..

    And Dani, I think it’s great you’re a fellow vegetarian but is that really one of the only places? I live in a town full of chain restaurants and have never even heard that place suggested for vegetarians. I would think Ruby Tuesdays (huge salad bar) or some local owned place that will make up some yummy veg dishes (most will) would be a better choice.



  • zeca

    “At least they try to do good.”


    Chipotle has had over 3 years to “do good” by the farmworkers who pick its tomatoes, where “doing good” would be very simple and cost them very little but contribute to improving the lives of many people. Apparently, chickens and pigs are more important to Chipotle than human beings.

  • Robert

    Just to clarify the letter to Chipotle which you reference was not written by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers but rather in support of them. The letter is actually from prominent sustainable food activists including none other than…wait for it…Food, Inc’s director Robert Kenner and co-producer Eric Schlosser! no joke

  • Dani

    They have terrific vegan burritos: black beans, cilantro lime rice, onions and peppers, salsa, lots of guacamole, and lettuce. Yum.

    And Zeca, would you please not rate the relative importance of animal welfare and human welfare policies? It’s annoying.

  • krissy

    Yeah when McDonalds came up with Chipotle, they were already well known as crappy food. So they tried to market the alternative they made look so good just by virtue of it being better than McDonalds. Now we find out its the eqivalent of a quarter pounder or more… They are lazy and greedy.

  • jill

    back off about the cals in the burrito… it takes me 2 sittings to get a bowl down and according to your “1,110″ cals in a chix one, i’m doing just fine between the two meals

  • AP

    You can get really healthful bowls and salads there, which isn’t mentioned in this poorly presented blog entry. Not your usual good work, Luke!

  • VeggieTart

    Chipotle is trying. And it is one of the few QSRs where you can get a decent vegan meal–heck, they seem to know the meaning of the word vegan.

    Erin: It’s so irritating to be told to just have a salad. When I go to places where a salad is the only veg option, it’s usually a plate of iceberg lettuce and some limp veggies–feh! Last time I was at Ruby Tuesdays, it was a tiny set-up with a minefield of non-vegan items.