Chipotle is one of the handful of places I can eat out without any guilt. 100% of the pork carnitas they serve in their 870+ restaurants come from free-range pigs, like the ones Joel Salatin raises. Over the last decade, they’ve also worked hard to incorporate more grass-fed cows and pastured poultry.
Last night, ABC’s Nightline aired a piece interviewing Chipotle’s founder, Steve Ells, and Joel Salatin (the self-described Christian, Libertarian, Environmentalist, Lunatic farmer and hero of The Omnivore’s Dilemma who recently wrote a guest post here on Why Local Food is More Expensive).
You’ve gotta watch this story.
Remember how excited I was to see Alice Waters on 60 Minutes? My one complaint was that Lesley Stahl painted Alice in an elitist, slightly eccentric light.
But you can’t make elitist burritos. (Well, maybe you can, but you’d be hard pressed to call Chipotle — a nationwide fast food chain — elitist.)
The Highlights of The Story
- Joel Salatin’s idea that a happy pig is one that gets to fully express its “pigness.” In our culture, Joel says, we don’t ask, “how do we make a pig happy?” We ask, “how do we grow them faster, fatter, bigger, cheaper? That’s not a noble goal.” The concept of the “pigness of the pig” became the Nightline story’s over-arching mantra, the theme that tied it all together. I’ve got a feeling this would make Joel happy, as many other reporters picking and choosing sound bites of Joel’s words have often ignored this key concept.
- When asked why he doesn’t buy pork from factory farms, Steve Ells doesn’t hesitate. “First of all, you can breathe here,” he says, taking in a deep breath of verdant savanna surrounded by wallowing pigs. What a classic moment!
- Steve Ells originally started Chipotle because he wanted to show that just because you were serving food quickly didn’t mean you had to sacrifice quality. “Just because it’s fast doesn’t mean it has to be a typical fast food experience. You can cook great pork, like the pork from Joel’s farm, and you can spend hours braising it to perfection, but then it only takes seconds to serve.”
- Even though Steve’s food costs are slightly more expensive, he’s built a business model that allows for that added expense. In other words, the only reason he’s not serving 100% humanely raised, grass-fed, and pastured meats is because of a supply issue, not a cost issue.
Watch The Video
If the above player doesn’t work, you can go watch the video on ABCs site!
This post is part of today’s Real Food Wednesday carnival, hosted by Cheeseslave. After you’re done watching the video, you should hop over to Cheeseslave’s blog and see what other folks are saying today about Real Food!
(photo courtesy of ABC News)