When it comes to eating well, most people agree that cooking at home, with whole food ingredients, is the healthiest option. But in these busy times, it can be challenging to meet that ideal, and that’s when fast food comes into play.
Of course, not all fast food is created equal, and savvy consumers who do their research know that some chains are healthier than others. With so many restaurants offering ingredient lists and nutritional information, choosing the “best of the bad” should be fairly easy. But that’s not always the case, as we recently discovered.
Take, for instance, Chipotle Mexican Grill. The restaurant prides itself on offering “Food With Integrity,” but it turns out that the chain isn’t so willing to disclose exactly what “integrity” is composed of.
The situation came to our attention via health food blogger Vani Hari, aka Food Babe. Hari is on a mission to avoid processed foods, and is particularly concerned with unhealthy additives and GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in food.
This led her to research exactly what’s in some of the country’s most popular fast foods, particularly those that are perceived to be on the “healthier” end of the spectrum. Looking to satisfy her craving for healthy burritos, she set out to investigate the ingredients used at Chipotle, as well as those by its competitor Moe’s. And while it was challenging to get info from Moe’s, Chipotle was even worse.
“With marketing phrases like ‘Food with Integrity’ … you’d think their messages would easily be backed by ingredients they would be willing to share,” Hari writes. “Unfortunately, this is not the case at all and it took extreme perseverance to get quality information about their ingredients. Perseverance the average consumer would likely never have.
“When I emailed Chipotle asking for the ingredients in certain products they downright refused. They in turn asked if I was concerned about a specific ingredient or had an allergy. Really? Why do I have to be concerned about a specific ingredient or have an allergy to want to know what I am eating and what’s in my food? When I tried to call them, there was no way for me to leave a message or get a person on the phone to answer my questions.”
Ultimately, Hari found an employee who was willing to covertly share some ingredients with her, and the findings are a bit disheartening. According to Hari, Chipotle’s burrito shells are made with hydrogenated oil (aka trans fat), and most of their products contain genetically modified corn and soy, but she still doesn’t have a complete list of ingredients.
And that’s where we’ve stepped in. We’ve started a petition at Care2.com, asking Chipotle to fully disclose their ingredients list. Our goal is to reach 1,000 signatures, and we need your help. If you want to know exactly what’s in the food at Chipotle, please take a moment to add your name.
For more on Hari’s findings, including details on dangerous ingredients and GMO information, check out 100 Days of Real Food.