On the heels of the announcement that Chipotle is taking tangible steps to be completely GMO-free, they’ve now announced that they’re going to be serving 100% grass-fed beef nationwide.
Unfortunately, the grass-fed cattle won’t be coming from the United States. According to Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold, there simply isn’t a consistent enough supply of grass-fed, antibiotic-free, hormone-free beef in the U.S. to meet the restaurant’s large demand.
In response to this revelation, the Texas Commissioner of Agriculture took offense and issued a statement lambasting the restaurant chain.
But I thought Chipotle already used grass-fed beef!
Until last year, the restaurant chain served antibiotic-free beef, but the beef was only grass-fed in certain locations where the local supply of grass-fed cattle could meet a restaurant’s demand.
Then, in the wake of a nationwide drought that decimated the U.S. cattle population, Chipotle was forced to start using conventionally raised beef in the summer of 2013 in order to meet customer demand.
Is Chipotle misguided?
That’s what Texas Ag Commissioner Todd Staples said in a letter dated this past Monday, June 16th.
He called the restaurant chain “misguided” and “irresponsible” for believing that Australian cattle is raised any more responsibly than Texan cattle.
“We have a wide variety of producers and processors,” he wrote. “It seems foolish to discount these immense, local resources when making decisions about where to source your beef.”
While I agree with the sentiment that the more local a food is, the better it is, that’s not Chipotle’s primary concern.
“The restaurant chain doesn’t want beef that’s been shot up full of hormones and antibiotics; instead it’s looking for true grass-fed beef that are free from those foreign substances, and Australia is a leader in that field.”
In fact, Chipotle director Steve Ells defended his decision to use beef sourced from Southern Australia in a recent Huffington Post article using that exact justification:
The meat produced by these ranchers is “grass-fed” in the truest sense of the term: The cattle spend their entire lives grazing on pastures or rangelands, eating only grass or forages (by definition, forages are hay and grass–corn is not forage). It meets or exceeds the husbandry standards set forth by the American Grassfed Association, not to mention all of the protocols we apply to our domestic Responsibly Raised beef. The cattle are raised without added hormones, antibiotics or growth promotants by ranchers committed to humane animal husbandry.
Will Chipotle still serve local grass-fed beef?
In fact, it sounds like it’s their goal to serve entirely U.S. raised grass-fed beef in the future. However, at this point in time, it’s just not possible. Steve Ellis wrote:
While we’re purchasing small amounts of grass-fed beef from American producers like Missouri’s Rain Crow Ranch, most of the U.S. grass-fed beef that meets our standards is simply not produced in sufficient quantities to meet our demand.
Chipotle is under fire from natural food enthusiasts, too.
In a Facebook comment left on Steve Ellis’ Huffington Post announcement about the company’s move to sourcing Australian beef, a representative of Riven Rock Farm wrote:
“We walked into a Chipotle an hour from our mountain farm and saw a sign that stated that Chipotle had to serve conventionally raised beef for awhile until they could find local suppliers. Our phone has not rang. My other grass finishing friends phones have not rang. No emails either. We are a growing operation- with higher standards than Chipotle. I fear Chipotle has outgrown their ability to stay true to their roots. Australia- really?? That’s not a local, sustainable food supply model. The reason is dollars. Big corporations in Australia peddling industrial grass fed beef. Low price points- big margins.”
And another fan of grass-fed beef complained about sourcing from Australia:
“I am ALL for grass-fed beef! I LOVE Chipotle. My problem with sourcing beef from Australia is the fact that is has to be transported in the most environmentally unfriendly way. This stuff can’t go by ocean, right? And even if it does, that means millions of gallons of fuel and refrigeration liquid. That meat won’t be fresh. I would so love to see American farmers go back to the good ol’ days, where animals weren’t hopped up on drugs and hormones. I just don’t see this as an advantageous endeavor for anyone except Chipotle.”
What do you think? Is this a positive move for Chipotle? Or a step backwards?
(photo by futursonic)
I support Chipotle’s decision. We need access to grass-fed beef and if we’re relying on a growing restaurant chain, then we should not be expecting perfection. People are complaining, but it does not seem that they can provide alternatives.
Danielle Stone says
Really? How about the solution of not eating beef or meat for just one day? How about not eating it for just one meal of the day? If we only realized that as a possibility, then overconsumption, the real issue here , would not likely exist.
Violet Weed says
First of all, there’s no such thing as a ‘good’ bottle of ANYTHING made of ALCOHOL, a POISON, so I consider you NOT to be that much of a ‘food renegade’. Also, you eat fast food, I don’t care where you buy it, if it wasn’t cooked ‘at home’ it is restaurant fare and NOT to be trusted. What do I think if Chipotle buying cattle from AUSTRALIA?????! What do you think? They ship in CATTLE (or possibly frozen meat) from a foreign country halfway round the world and we are to believe that it is ‘grass fed’ ‘healthy’ cattle meat? Hardly. If they ship in live cattle, those animals have been tortured by imprisonment on a shifting vessel on that long journey. If they ship in meat, who knows, really, how it was maintained / handled during that journey? At any rate, there is plenty of grassfed cattle to be bought in the USA, no reason to buy it in, what is effectively, a socialist country. Better yet, don’t eat ANY processed food, grow your own vegetables, I do, and cook your own meals, I do. Then if you are really really lucky you’ll look 45 at the age of 66 which I do. I also have never drunk alcohol, done any kind of drug including aspirin, never smoked, and always walk 4-7 miles EVERY day, so that when people meet me for the first time and find out how old I am (either ‘close to their age’ or ‘close to their mom’s age’) they are VISIBLY shocked. You can lead a happy, great life and yet NEVER have had a soda, or a McDonalds/BurgerKing/Wendys/CHIPOTLE ‘restaurant’ ANYTHING. You’ll also have a fully functioning brain and a body that can still bound down stairs without holding onto a handrail and have a 20 years marriage to a man 22 years younger like me (i.e. PLENTY of non-Viagra-related SEX).
Wow! It must be nice to be so perfect. Are you needing a little pat on the back?
Just curious, Violet, how many children did you birth? You sound quite a bit like my mother, except that my mother does drink wine, occasionally eat “fast food” (as defined by you)and at 73, looks and acts like a woman 20 years younger.
Me in AUSSIE LAND!!! says
TOO MUCH INFO.. thanks for sharing your rant with us, we now think your really great. (and in need of praise and admiration)
Is there anything else you are fabulous at that you can tell us about? how about you make a blog about how awesomely beautiful you life is and share your message with the world!!! yeay!
If Violet thinks Australia is a socialist country then the USA must be a communist one by that reckoning. I have lived in both Australia and the US.
Like New Zealand Australia does not need to barn raise their animals. It has warm temperatures all year round and a land mass about three quarters the size of the US. You just put them out and let them grow. Harvest them when they get big enough. Violet obviously doesn’t know that all meat has to be aged before it is at its best.On its way to the US it is in chillers and under goes controlled aging on the voyage. They are also slaughtered in some of the worlds most hygienic facilities. Violet, because of her “Importing attitudes” obviously has no cell phone, TV, car or owns any thing imported from any other country. She needs to look among her things and see how much of it has come out of Asia.How does she think the US survives..it is by exporting their goods all over the world, but I understand that she is saying that it is OK for the US to export all over the world but not to import. Rather a selfish attitude I feel. Violet dear, it is called trade and has been going on since way before you were born. It is also called freedom of choice in America, the country that is built on freedom.Violet is saying that Chipotle isn’t allowed those freedoms. Suggest she tell that to all the US Soldiers who have died Defending those freedoms in other countries all around the world.
Chipotle has the right to use what it likes just as you have the right not to go there. End of story.
Violet Weed’s comment is so hilariously self-righteous that it’s hard for me to believe it was not written as a joke.
Ellen Tresidder says
Whew, that’s for sure!
Wayne Rivali says
So I have to ask, Violet. Do you have children, and if so, are they as healthy as you claim to be? I’m the first of the “latch-key” generation. My first meal was a bottle full of Similac. My growing bones were sustained on TV dinners and other similar processed foods. Margarine was the in thing and iodine was replaced by bromine in that white supermarket bread that we constantly ate. I don’t know if you were a working mom like my mom was as I grew up, but I got off to a very rough start. Now I have to work twice as hard to catch up to your state of health. Think about that, and then take it easy on my (your children’s) generation.
sounds fantastic to me I am 60 still do zumba and walk grown my own vegetables when I can we live in Ohio You have motivated me to more thank you
Graham, you are spot on mate. As an Australian who has visited the USA and insists on grass-fed meat here for my young family, I can assure you that the quality and ethical treatment of meat is some of the finest in the world. Sure, local would be your first choice but please research before you scoff at what is available abroad. You may even be surprised if you can see past your own biased attitudes.
Actually Violet, alcoholic beverages have not only been regarded an essential form of sustenance for the young and old since ancient times, they are also a modern daily health component for many people.
During times of mass sickness, beer and wine were consumed by the general populace as an alternative to potentially tainted water. Despite how obvious it seems to us today, it was not apparent to everyone in the plague-ridden 1300’s that merely boiling water could kill fatal pathogens. Without these spirits, there’s a good chance your ancestors would have died due to their lack of scientific knowledge, and obviously you would not have been born as a result.
Naturally occurring phenols in wine and beer can lower your heart’s vulnerability to disease, and may lower the risk of hypertension. Red wine in particular is generally thought to increase one’s lifespan, and contains antioxidants that reduce the signs of aging. Can you gain the same benefits from eating fruits and vegetables? The short answer is yes, and then some. The important thing is that those who do drink, choose to do so for their health.
Having said all that, is it not a good idea to seek the most natural food and drink? Of course! It’s also a good idea to trace your heritage and family’s medical history to take stock of potential risks for disease and other complications inherent in your genes. Even in moderation, health concerns are always present when consuming alcohol, just as there will always be potential for cancers and other unsavory conditions elsewhere with or without moderation! We are a weak species with remarkable potential within our short lifespans, given lots of nourishment and good favor. Sometimes it is best to simply enjoy life such as it is, and let your happiness be your message.
joe splunk says
i dont care how healthy and perfect you are, you will still die in the end just like everyone else.
Violet you may look youthful and be healthy, but you sound very angry.
Here are my thoughts:
1. Chipotle may be trying to source at the local level, but they probably have a corporate team doing the work. So while there is a Chipotle in the area near that farm that was mentioned, that doesn’t mean that the farm advertised enough to get the attention of Chipotle corporate team halfway across the country. Natural farms that raise beef to the standards Chipotle seems to have set forth, probably don’t make that much of a profit, and can’t advertise much more than local farmers markets or word of mouth, right? We always hear about how the organic farms’ costs far exceed commercial farms. And, they don’t get government subsidies.
2. Chipotle is a business. Above and beyond, the first rule of thumb in any business is to increase shareholder wealth. The fact that Chipotle seems to be doing that and living up to their standard of trying to source grassfed beef that is hormone and anti-biotic free, and found a source, is applaudable.
That they can make it profitable for them is even better. It is affordable to me, as a consumer, and I commend them for what they are doing.
Last of all, I MISS Chipotle. I crave it! I live in a 3rd world country where we don’t have Chipotle — and the foods we have here are super bland to begin with so no luck in getting my “fix”.
Each time I fly back to the states, I honestly plan my trip around going to Chipotle… it is an addiction, guys!!
Fajita burrito bowl, barbacoa with extra extra mild salsa (pico de gallo), loads of cheese, sour cream and guacamole.
What is “your” dish?
Kelly the Kitchen Kop says
I’ll bet it was not so much that the local farm hadn’t advertised much to get their name out there (because Chipotle could’ve gone through the WAPF or other local groups to find local farms), but instead it was probably just that they knew there were no local farms that produced meat on the scale they needed. And since they are a big business, they can’t go around sourcing from 100 different farms; or they *wouldn’t* do that I should say, that would probably take up too much time.
Like another commenter said, I’m just thankful that they are TRYING and also that they’re getting dialogue going on these issues, that is HUGE! The more it’s discussed, the more it will become mainstream, and then our access to better foods will grow.
Our real food movement IS growing, slowly but surely! 🙂
Really it is all about the margin, every business has to pay attention or they won’t be a business for long. Chipotle can purchase beef more cheaply from Australia even considering the shipping by sea giving them a much greater ROI. The bottom line is that Chipotle does not want to pay American producers what amounts to a living wage. There is plenty of grass fed beef in the US. It simply can’t be sourced in the massive numbers in one place at rock bottom prices. That is the motive behind Chipotle’s move to foreign beef
I applaud Chipotle too at least they are trying and caring about what the American people eat. Reach out 100% grass fed farmers to “Chipotle and let them know you are there.” We the people are starting to open our eyes to the corporations that only want to put down the companies that care about the people and what we are eating.
Kathleen Cleary-James says
You cannot please all of the people all of the time…and I give Chipotle an A+ for trying…I cannot say the same for 98.9% of the rest of the restaurants out there…
Come on Folks…get real….support those that try to do their best even if they fall short a little bit…
That positive support will sway others to do the same!
I’m glad that they are going in the right direction and creation momentum in the food industry. Can they do better? of course. However in the midst of an industry that is full of GMO toxins, HFCS, Chemicals, pesticides… They are going against the flow and should be commended, not heavily criticized. You can always recommend improvements, but they are for the most part on our side. Don’t stab them in the back.
Tom Albrecht says
I still will make #Chipotle my first choice for fast food. To me it’s more important how my food is produced than where it’s from. Having said that I love my local farmer I buy fresh produce from during the warmer months here, he uses no chemicals on his crops.
Suzanne Landry says
I am a fresh food chef, author of “The Passionate Vegetable’ and cooking teacher. I too love Chipotle and what I thought to be their higher standards of business practices.
HOWEVER, the last time I ate there (always get the salad bowl) I got a horrendous migraine reaction from the dressing. It is the same reaction I get from most soy and especially GMO soy. I returned and an employee showed me the bottle of oil they use for the dressing. Not containing soy oil. Could the chicken have been cooked in soy oil? Anyway, I’m now more leary of going there as my only acceptable occasionally ‘fast food’ restaurant. I had the same reaction to TJ Organic Popcorn because it was processed in a plant that also processes soy (no doubt GMO).
Suzanne, I have heard that cilantro gives some people terrible headaches. Maybe look into that, too?
nikki denning says
I Love your book, Its awesome. I too had a headache after, i believe Its msg, Which has aka if at least 50 diff names; soy protein isolate, carraggenan, natural flavorings, etc. Its in everything prepared/ processed
My family are all vegetarians. We LOVE Chipotle! We just skip all meat selections. Amazing how delicious a vegetarian burrito or salad bowl can be. And completely healthy!
Elisabeth Gibson says
Although I commend Chipotle for working to make locally-sourced, and sustainably-raised meat standard (if not their current reality)in the industry, I won’t be going back for two reasons: the price is higher than what I’m willing to pay, and my family’s last visit there was a poor experience. To add, I complained about the restaurant’s excessively dirty state and the fact that the staff appeared to be dragging from overwork (too many hours), which resulted in poorly-made food. I never heard back from Chipotle, which tells me that ignoring complaints from patrons is likely standard procedure. Chipotle’s niche is a good one, but a restaurant really has to be doing all that makes a customer feel as though he’d gotten his money’s worth.
I’m curious….when the Riven Rock Farm rancher commented on the fact he and his neighbors haven’t heard from Chipotle, did they make any effort to contact the company? Have they made any effort to form any kind of an alliance or even a corporation that can provide their “healthier” products with a reliable inventory to a larger customer, or group of customers? Everyone wants “Buy local” but if all you do is sit around, ride the range, and bitch about “big corporations” you’re not the solution, you’re just another problem. Grow some gonads and grab a brain. Oh, and, hire a qualified Marketing Director to get your product in front of the right people. If there truly is enough inventory in the US, then cattle growers have a marketing problem. Duh!
To me the biggest disappointment is not with chipotle. It is with the lack of beef raised the way it was meant to be raised in this country. I have also resorted to buying Australian beef for home use. I would rather eat that than beef from a cow that was disgustingly nurtured I. A manure pit with a thousand others snacking on candy corn all day.
couldn’t agree more…the local grocer just started carrying meat(lamb) from Australia and I had no reservations purchasing it. great that there’s is an option for those of who don’t want to consume gmo-corn and soy , gmo or not.
It seems like a company that needs a quantity of grass fed beef that is greater than supply would either acquire some cattle ranches or if that was more investment than wanted they could subcontract some ranches to produce exactly the type of beef they need and save costs by cutting out middlemen. Think Perdue but in a positive slant contracting grass fed beef ranchers.
That would be grass-fed beef ranches.
Ranchers tend to be more beef-fed than grass-fed! 🙂
Ideal? No. But an important step. It shows the American consumer, and top corporations, won’t SETTLE. We have been fed a line. Now there is a line in the sand. Either meet the high food standards other countries enjoy, or we’ll go around you, to those other countries. I used to hear it wasn’t worth it to farm organic, not enough demand. Times are changing. I hope Chipotle will seek out as many local beef sources as possible that meet the 100% grass fed criteria (not grass finished), but I’d rather see them demand better beef than cave to the beef lobby like so many others. Let’s make factory raised beef the exception, not the rule. And I’m getting my family Chipotle for lunch!
Renegade Wellbeing says
Here I live in Colorado and have never had the pleasure of eating at a Chipotle, there are non on the western slope ;-( I commend them, for a big corporate Biz they are trying to do right, and are defiantly a minority! Many of the ingredients in the product we deal in are also outsourced from this country, which is more of the sorry state and standards of this country then the wanting to be disloyal to our countrymen. In this case the cost is also not our issue but the quality. One example is the colagen, that we have imported from Cattle in Argentina for the same reason, pure diet and natural life styles. Sure Chipotle is not perfect, but for its size it is trying. Wish more fast food would follow their example!
Kathleen Graas says
It is great about the beef…but what about the chicken?
In any organization, there are going to be confusions blowing up while things are being changed or re-organized. The “trick” is to ignore the confusions (and any other distractions) while continuing to focus on the goal or purpose. Chipotle’s actions and compliance to their mission statement should be judged on a long-term basis and not item by item. The point is, are they getting closer to their goal/purpose?
I totally applaud Chipotle. They seem to be the ONLY fast food chain even remotely interested in serving quality food not ladened with hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and GMOs. The fact that there isn’t enough quality supply locally isn’t Chipotle’s fault. The brunt of the complaints should go towards the factory farms here in America not at Chipotle who is trying to have high standards. They should be applauded not nit picked by whiners who can find fault no matter what Chipotle does.
Not true. You’re missing out on Elevation Burger’s organic, grassfed, freshly ground beef burgers. 🙂
Marc A says
Not enough restaurants to be considered the “rule”, but tragically still the “exception”. Until more people demand their food the way it’s supposed to be, without the toxins, along with the corporate lies to justify them, don’t expect any changes from McDonalds, Burger King, or any other chain that cares more about profit and greed than about food the way God created it.
That’s wonderful that Chipotle is trying to do right by the animals, the oils they use and their customers – by posting that sometimes they use CAFO animals. Some humane cattle/beef companies said they had not been called by Chipotle. Well, I hope they will do the calling now. Hopefully, CAFO operations will start to reflect on the damage they do.
Jennifer G says
Perhaps if there are so many free-range ranchers upset with Chipotle going to Australia to fill their meat gap, instead of complaining about not getting a call, why don’t they just offer their services? If they really do meet Chipotle’s food standards then maybe they’ll start a regular order.
Kathy Vimont says
As a grass-fed and -finished, no-artificial -anything beef producer, this seems like a logistical nightmare for Chipotle. Riven Rock Farm seems to think that each individual Chipotle store sources its own meat. I would be surprised to find that this is so. If it is true, their store managers will need a raise as they would be procurement managers as well as store managers. I doubt that McDonald’s managers source their own beef or anything else that comes in to their stores. Corporations have procurement managers for this purpose. Sourcing enough beef to satisfy Chipote customer demand would entail a whole lot more logistics and time than just ordering your beef patties from a huge industrial processor like the big chains do. This is all going to mean more dollars at the cash register.
We have 90 families that consume our raw milk, and there is no way that we can produce enough beef to satisfy even that number of people. Raising beef in this high-quality way that Chipotle is striving for takes a whole lot more land than conventional beef. I applaud them for their efforts, and I hope the consumers will educate themselves about how this all pencils out, and the enormous effort it is going to take. Like Phil in the comments above, I also hope that many, many more people start producing their own food plus much more for others, and that we return to our old ways of clean food raised in more personal ways. The result will be that we will all be healthier, have used less energy, be more secure in our food availability, and Chipotle will not have to go out of country to source food for us.
Loved your comments Kathy! Very well thought out.
We, too, raise in the same manner as you do. Our cattle from start to finish are out on pasture and hay for the winter months. There is NO way that even we could supply everyone that is interested in our beef. We’ve had waiting lists for two years! It takes two years to finish our beef. For Chipotle to go all grass-fed, would take an enormous undertaking to keep it in America without long term planning involved. I think it could be done, just needs more time. Bravo, Chipotle.
All I can say is at least they are not going to China to get the need. Nothing wrong with Australia.
Well I commend Chipotle for knowing the great benefits of truly grass-fes beef and not just “finished”. I also commend them for shedding light on the fact that as a whole, America’s corporate farming practices are far under par and need overhauling, so that the consumer’s health is more important than their bottom line…which I’m pretty sure would improve when people’s knowledge of their concern for our health improves.
Our food producers have become complacent and beholden to corporate greed, so the old idea of growing nutritious food for our citizens has taken a back seat to profit. America’s arrogance makes them blind sometimes to the fact that there are others in this big world who are willing to do the good they are not and produce the food that is actually meant to be eaten and nourish the population. So when this competition grows and begins to cut into their careless profits, all of a sudden the people should be more loyal because it’s homegrown, regardless of the fact it’s lessening their health and increasing their medical bills. The same scramble happened in the auto industry when they became complacent and unafraid that outside competition would be able to take first place because they appealed greater to the customer.
All I can say is thank you Chipotle and wake up American food producers.
Ron Raco via Facebook says
Hope they can find more American beef. 1) Not a great use of resources shipping from around the world. 2) Need to get back to our Agricultural roots.
Tiffany Seale via Facebook says
I am not understanding why it is coming from austraila… there are MANY american farms they could support! 🙁
Wendy Fisher Anderson via Facebook says
I’m sure the price of American Grass Feed beef makes purchase here a negative. Maybe the beef industry can get the message and pick up the pace to change that. That would only be a win for us the consumer.
Ah yes Let’s get cheaper beef so that even the organic/grass fed producers can go broke too. There is a complete disconnect in your comment–while most farm managers are in the business because they love it and the life–they still have to pay bills and feed their families thus farms tend to get larger so that they can survive on what corporations i.e. Chipotle pay for their product.
Eilish Foley via Facebook says
easy to understand – they do NOT want to support AMERICAN
Food Renegade via Facebook says
Tiffany Seale I think they’re arguing that the US supply is too inconsistent to be manageable (or from ranchers who are so small they don’t come anywhere near meeting the demand) .
Tiffany Seale via Facebook says
that makes sense.
Eilish Foley via Facebook says
Eilish Foley via Facebook says
Eilish Foley via Facebook says
Mary Light via Facebook says
Eventually it can come from here if people catch up and produce more. HOWever- Is there a specific defnition for grass fed? As in the % of the feed, for how long, measured against any other feed? Because otherwise it means very little as a term.
Tonya Cardwell via Facebook says
Eilish, there are thousands of chipotle restaurants that use tons of beef. The expense and inconsistency of honest beef in america makes it impossible for the entire chain to maintain their stand on quality ingredients without outsourcing *for now*.
Food Renegade via Facebook says
Mary Light For Chipotle, it means grass-fed and finished. They also claim that Australian grass-fed standards exceed those of the American Grassfed Association.
Eilish Foley via Facebook says
Tonya Cardwell given their attack on American farming in general I do NOT believe this for a minute
they do NOT want to work with American farmers
Eilish Foley via Facebook says
as long as it is grass fed, what does it matter where it comes from. if we don’t have enough in this country then we should start having a more abundant supply since there is a need for it.
Jane Elizabeth via Facebook says
I’m not super proud of it because chipotle is a big corporate a** despite their “natural” appearance, but since February when I found out I was pregnant, I’ve been eating a lot of chipotle for convenience. It’s the cheapest, most natural thing on the go. I have been paying attention to what is and isn’t gmo!
Let’s get real about something here people. Most of the supply of grass-fed beef in America is, frankly, crap. It’s tough; it’s stringy; it’s hard to cook; it tastes gamey. Suppliers who produce grass-fed beef really well, are few and far between. Teton Waters out of Idaho is my favorite producer. They go to major lengths to plant and raise forage and grasses on their lands that have a high fatty acid and protein profiles–producing tender, sweeter tasting meat with a higher fat content that makes cooking much easier. It’s delicious, but most grass-fed producers just don’t go that far. I also like a local producer here in Colorado that raises on free forage and then finishes the cattle for 4 weeks on whole flax plants–very succulent meat.
There’s also the problem that those producers who are producing consistently high quality, tender, grass-fed beef with minimal gameyness, just cannot physically produce enough beef to meet Chipotle’s demands, so outsourcing is a must.
I’m just happy that Chipotle is taking steps to ensure a consistent supply for all their stores. Maybe the U.S. will catch up, maybe it won’t.
TAKE NOTE. Chipotle is privately owned. They are not a corporation. The company does not have stock holders; they do not have a presence on any stock exchange.
I support Chipolte, maybe this will push the US to increase the supply, it’s not just Chipolte. Even many grocery stores that would like to serve grass fed beef have a supply issue. It’s the scale/ amount that is required that is the problem. If Australia can do it, then that tells me the US can too if it so chooses. Maybe this will progress this forward. Demand drives everything in the end!
Darcie Mayo via Facebook says
That is the issue isn’t it? Price.. while “regular” farmers get subsidies, organic and “natural” ie other beef farms pay extra to be certified
Peter Bocchieri via Facebook says
Supermarkets are selling a lot of grass fed beef from Australia. And it’s cheaper. How can that be?
Teresa Barr-Jones via Facebook says
Supply is driven by demand. If the demand by American consumers and companies is for grass fed AND finished beef, farmers will find it profitable to move that direction; they won’t be able to afford not too. Chipotle clearly states they want to use American beef and plan to in the future when it is available. When you find yourself in the position to eat at Chipotle, maybe consider it a way to send a message to America’s large scale farmers who are missing out by producing fed lot beef. On a side note, I truly hope Chipotle is dedicated to working on finding ways to buy from the multitude of small American farms with grass fed and finished beef available; realizing the nightmare of handling so many small accounts and insuring consistent quality.
Jamie Farrington via Facebook says
Eilish, you have no idea what you are talking about. As someone who helped keep track of inventory, I can tell you that Chipotle works with plenty of local farms to source their food.
Peter Niepel via Facebook says
I absolute understand Chipotle. I am a baker in New Zealand. When I started my business my vision was to use organic local ingredients. Unfortunately we do not have a milling industry here which can provide me with organic wheat flour. I could get organic flour from Turkey or Italy and Germany. So I abandoned the idea to be 100% organic. I still use as much as possible organic New Zealand flour in my bread. Now I have many customers who don’t like this. In discussions they do tell me that they get organic flour from New Zealand, so why can’t I? I try to explain them that I need several different types of flour for my artisan breads. And that I need a consistent quality and that the small New Zealand growers can’t provide this. As I said, we don’t have a milling industry except the foreign owned mills which provide commercial non organic flour. The organic flour I can source here is milled by growers not by millers. They know how to grow but not how to blend a flour to produce consistent results and different types. I could imagine Chipotle is in a similar position.
Matthew Shaffer via Facebook says
I’ll take grass-fed Australian over local grain fed anytime. Perhaps we need to stop financing the corn and soy industry here so that more farms will devote resources to raising beef the way they were meant to be and then the price of local grass-fed beef would come down.
I would rather have healthy meats than local. If it is both healthy and local, great.
I think Chipotle is sending a loud message to the cattle ranchers since they are making a fuss. The more people/companies that do that the sooner they will get the message.
I love Chipotle. They are a way better option health wise than any other chain.
Good for them!
Thanks for the info. I think Chipotle is fine using Aussi beef if it meets the standards. The comments from local ranchers saying their phone didn’t ring, I have to ask, “Did you ever contact them?” Too often Americans have a Hollywood delusional mindset of build it and they will come. Selling is a major part of all free market business models, and big corporate takes a lot of work to get and hold.
Me in AUSSIE LAND!!! says
I live in aus, am australian and eat organic grass fed beef and lamb. I live here and it is soooo hard to find it… because all most of our gorgeous meat is exported. We are the number one meat exporter of the world from Saudi, Japan and to the states! Aus does halal grass fed organic (a very lucrative niche which supply most of america with halal meat) and everything in between.
I have nooo idea about this fast food outlet, nor the ones here in aus – but what I can say is YESSSS!!!! This is a wake up call the meat industry worldwide needs… Aus just happened to answer the call first… but whats stopping you guys in usa to answer that call and ACTUALLY shake up your meat industry by starting to produce beef by the same standards? If the US doesn’t want to be outdone by O/S suppliers then the answer is SIMPLE… step up your meat industry’s game! Boohoo to mr texas! He should pay heed and think about the current meat producing standards and set the bar higher… all of those who doubt the quality of Aus beef/lamb… I’m dreadfully, terribly sorry, but its frikin delicious… I don’t know how you guys get it, but its what a cow/lamb should taste like. This should be the political/economical pressure that is needed to give the us meat industry a boost in the right direction… If a few more big companies decide to do the sam MAYBE america will start to produce beef/lamb thats on par with the world leaders here in aus.
And to the commenter who put down how our beef is raised … seriously get your facts right… I live rural in the midst of dairy and beef country and I see thousands of stock all being raised to the best of standards. Our processing plants are among the best in the world too so stop being sour!!!
I live in New Zealand and we NEVER support the Aussies, NEVER, but in this case every thing “Me in Aussie Land” is saying is 100 percent true.But please don’t tell my friends that i did this.
New Zealand also has the same beef methods as Australia, all grass fed.Problem is we only have a very small supply.
What isn’t consumed locally is snapped up by the super rich Arab states and the well heeled Chinese.
I also was disappointed at the quality of meat that they serve up in the USA.
Really quite bad to what we are used to here in New Zealand. “Off to Aussie in few weeks”
Cindy Shook via Facebook says
No its not. If there is not enough organic beef in the US for a food chain than I don’t blame them.
Mary Turner via Facebook says
Well if USA doesn’t have enough grassfed beef to supply Chipotle then the USA beef farmers should start raising healthier meat. Thanks Chipotle for finding a source of healthier food and supplying it to your customers. I prefer grassfed clean beef any day.
Christine Taylor via Facebook says
Copied from Mary Turner: “Well if USA doesn’t have enough grassfed beef to supply Chipotle then the USA beef farmers should start raising healthier meat. Thanks Chipotle for finding a source of healthier food and supplying it to your customers. I prefer grassfed clean beef any day.” I completely agree with this statement. Maybe the American farmers will see that there is a demand and start raising their cattle in a better way!
Daniel Dessinger says
I don’t know which values top the list held by the Chipotle execs. If healthy food is top, then they’re making a great move. If it’s to conserve or replenish the earth’s natural resources, they still have plenty of room for improvement.
I would LIKE to see them leverage this move to grass-fed only cattle into American-grazed animals. When a professional athlete enters free agency, he entertains offers from teams he may not even want to play for. He does this so he can get a better offer somewhere else in order to prove his value to the teams he wants to play for. When they inquire, he tells them how much he’s been offered already, and they either match or exceed the offer.
Chipotle could take their new numbers to Texas cattle ranchers and offer to switch suppliers in five years IF they can prove their operation has demonstrated several years of grass-fed only production.
Chipotle’s a pretty big brand. I can only imagine many ranchers would be proud to say that their cattle supply Chipotle restaurants everywhere.
Kristen Michaelis says
That’s exactly what I hope they’ll do, too, Daniel.
The Texas Ag Commissioner has asked for a meeting with Steve Ellis and some prominent Texas ranchers. Wouldn’t it be great if Steve Ellis accepted the meeting and used it to pressure Texas into raising more grass-fed beef???
I ordered at Chipotle for the first time recently, a steak burrito. Problem, the steak was so tough I couldn’t eat it. I was reading reviews on Yelp and one person commented that she avoided their steak because it was usually too chewy. So looks like this may be a continuing problem. Steak burritos are my choice when I crave Mexican food so I don’t foresee I’ll order there again.
Try the barbacoa (braised beef)! It is delicious. I usually get a burrito bowl with black and pinto beans, veggies, and half barbacoa and half carnitas.
Peter Niepel via Facebook says
And please don’t blame businesses for making a profit. This is the purpose of a business but it shouldn’t be the only one.
Greg Richey via Facebook says
I believe in supporting local farmers but I have to side with Chipotle on this one. There is zero question on whether grass fed beef is better for you than commercial feed operation beef. It is clearly a no brainer for any one with any knowledge on the topic. Maybe if this trend continues we will do away with our frankenstein meat production system due to pressure from competing countries like Australia.
Crystal Robichaud Martz via Facebook says
Way to go Chipotle for looking for a way to bring healthier food to their customers! Now, if they’d just reverse their ban on handguns in their restaurants I might consider eating there.
Beth King via Facebook says
It is a simple supply issue. Eventually there will be more grass fed/finished beef available in the US to meet demand.
Jennifer Anaya via Facebook says
From speaking with butchers, Australia has much higher beef standards.
I have never believed for one second that Chipotles chicken was ever grass-fed! It’s a fortune to keep this kind of meat in our own home. There is no way a entire chain can charge the prices they do and have grass-fed chicken. Local maybe. Grass-fed. No way. If it’s not organic how could they ever track that?
Kristen Michaelis says
I don’t think they’ve ever claimed to have grass-fed chicken, just chicken raised without antibiotics or hormones.
I was just going off what the above article stated. It says it serves grass fed in certain areas.
Amanda Mason via Facebook says
No matter what someone will be unhappy….
Leila Pisheh via Facebook says
If you’re getting it in such large quantities, it isn’t so bad environmentally speaking to have it shipped. The ships are there regardless. Watch out US beef industry, if you want our business, you better raise your standards.
What she said…. Leila Pisheh. Chipotle is acting with integrity and sourcing where they can find real food, humanely raised for optimal human health. They may have missed some small local sources; they are a national chain!
Consumers need to ASK at ALL restaurants: Is this fish wild caught? Is this product a GMO or is it real food my body can process normally? What kind of oil do you use? Is this beef grass-fed? Are these yard eggs or cage eggs? Is this local lettuce? Is this factory farmed milk? Is this cosmetic cruelty free, or were beagles and kittens blinded to produce it? Etc. Etc. Etc. When we stop buying products based on inhumane practices, that destroy our health, that demolish the environment, that are the products of a corrupt system – then the system will change. And not until then. Exercise your power by closing your purse.
I’m just super happy that they are taking any stand on quality of food. If all the fast food restaurants in the US got their beef from Australia so that they could get large amounts of grass fed meat, Big Ag in the US would have to change up its game….for the better! Isn’t this what we’ve all been waiting for?
Kerry Bonnie Greer via Facebook says
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! (Sorry, had to do it.) 🙂
Kerry Bonnie Greer via Facebook says
I think this could eventually be a good turn of events for American consumers – hopefully the US market will listen to what US consumers are wanting more and more. As an Aussie living in the US, I have to say I had a lot more peace of mind eating in Australia – particularly when eating out.
Peter Niepel via Facebook says
Donna Smith Girard via Facebook says
I will bring my business to Chipolte. A chain needs large quantities, at affordable prices. At least they are making an effort to serve better food!
Jenny Rocco via Facebook says
I told chipotle to work with organic valley as OV has done a great job with fostering and increasing small dairy farms across the US…working together they could bring the US grass fed standards and supply up to where they need it to be..wouldn’t it be nice to see cattle on pasture again? The Aussies have a couple of decades more experience with the art and science of grass fed livestock..both the “grass” or forage and the beef genetics..
Jim Pasterczyk via Facebook says
Texas, whining again.
Greg O'Donohue via Facebook says
As far as I know Chipotle endeavours to use local ingredients wherever possible. That is, as long as suitable food is reliably available Chipotle will use a local supplier first and only go further afield if they have to. I am sure that if Texas ranchers would produce quality grass fed and grass finished beef Chipotle would buy it.
Rachel Gilks via Facebook says
It doesn’t matter what their ingredients are if they are still wrapping the ingredients in GMO corn and hydrogenated oils. This is from the chipotle page.
Lynnette S. Giles via Facebook says
Maybe this will steer the US beef industry in the right direction now that the demand is getting bigger
Carol Federoff says
I don’t expect any fast food chain to be perfect. I think Chipotle is the best available and on the rare occasion that we eat out due to traveling and strong wanting of convenience at that time, I will certainly support their efforts. It certainly beats the other places.
Food Renegade via Facebook says
Rachel Gilks They are removing all the GMOs one by one this year. They made a pledge to do so, and have been very public with their updates about what foods no longer contain GMOs.
As for hydrogenated oils, those are only in the tortillas, which I have never eaten because they’re made of improperly treated grains. I just buy a bowl instead of the burrito.
Jenny Rocco via Facebook says
Rachel Gilks, I understand your concern with the oils, but I bet it will take some time to find alternatives as the Hydrogenated oils pretty much took over the lard/tallow markets. Sadly many of the breeds that supplied those oils are gone or are very rare now.
lololol at Miss Precious Little Snowflake up above. climb down off yer throne, dearie.
as for Chipotle, good for them!! I would love to see American production of grass-fed, grass-finished beef expanded. where I live, my local butcher can order from Prather Ranch, which is not too far away. it is from a herd which is also a source for clean medical collagen, they guarantee no hormones, antibiotics, or CAFO at any stage. the meat is delicious, far better than supermarket meat. I applaud Chipotle for not only switching like this, but for making a big announcement. this is the only way to change our disgusting domestic meat industry. if they grow this, we will eat it. *grin*
Rachel Gilks via Facebook says
Oh Wow! That’s good to know! Yes, I’ve only gotten the bowls, as well. But isn’t even the sunflower oil still considered only a low/no heat oil? I read that it becomes rancid with high heat… unless they are using high oleic sunflower oil… Otherwise the polyunsaturate content is still really high. I’m glad they are moving in the right direction though. It’s more than we can say for most other chains.
PS: I have no idea why all commercial tortillas are made with hydrogenated oils, but suspect it is both shelf-life-related and cheaper to do so. we can get organic tortillas here, but I bet a lot of areas don’t carry them. they do cost more, but taste a lot closer to home-made. I imagine Chipotle will be looking for organic bakers in order to make this switch, as they intend to do.
and again, *Good for them*!!!
Food Renegade via Facebook says
Jenny — Yep. Nobody uses lard or tallow anymore. I would expect they’ll have to find a supplier that uses palm/coconut oil, and then everyone will be in a tizzy because they’re killing orangutans. Chipotle’s in a hard place.
I totally understand Chipotle buying from Australia. Imagine you had to buy 100 of something, would you prefer to buy it from 100 different sources, or one? Which one do you think is cheaper to get it all to you? I imagine they spend less on shipping and refrigeration and on the meat itself being able to buy in bulk then it would cost them to buy from individual farms and to have it all shipped to wherever they distribute their product to the stores.
It is sad that no one in the US is doing this on the scale that they can do elsewhere, and hopefully the more companies that continue to source elsewhere and say so, the more relevant it is going to be to US companies / farms.
Mommy Adventures says
I don’t actually like the taste of beef, so I don’t eat it, but I’m so glad Australia’s beef industry is mainly of the grass/pasture raised variety, rather than the concentrated animal feeding operations of the U.S. I hope more farms over there in the U.S. turn their backs on unhealthy practices and go back to natural farming practices, not only in beef production, but also with other animals, and crops.
Diane S says
I agree that any large corporation like Chipotle should be supported in their decision to use grass fed beef in their restaurants. Since their goal is to use all American beef, I would not gripe too much about going elsewhere for a while. The fact that they are trying to provide food that we Renegades what to eat is what is important. There success will determine if more restaurants adopt the same policy. Change takes time so there is considerably more awareness of good food today than 10 years ago. All you local grass fed beef farmers contact Chipotle and work with them. Don’t be shy. If you want the business, go after it. If they work with you, get the word out. If they don’t let us know why. God Bless all you wonderful farmers who are working so hard to produce good food. With time we can win this fight.
We must have faith.
Carol Easterly via Facebook says
This is great news! While i think it is beyond sad that there isn’t enough supply of healthy grass fed American cattle for Chipotle to use local beef I would far prefer the health benefits of grass fed beef, even shipped across the world. I wish there was one close enough to go tonight!
I love that they are taking steps to use non-GMO. I hope you all realize that Australia is beginning to make GMO grass! I wonder if they’re taking that into consideration while choosing the best place to purchase their grass fed beef. ..
I support Chipolte. I buy my 100% grass fed ground beef from sprouts and trader joes that is sourced from Australia or New Zealand I hope the US cattle industry recognizes the market needs and makes changes. I vote with my limited income dollars as best I can. Thanks Food Babe!
Goddess in the Groove via Facebook says
Chipotle is in a hard place. I think about the time, resources, fuel, etc it takes to ship the meat from Australia all around the U.S., and really think it outweighs a big chunk of the benefit. I can’t believe the price point of buying/shipping the beef is better than sourcing beef here. I personally do not buy meat that is from other countries because I want to support local. But, I am also a family of four, not a food chain. I wonder how diligent Chipotle was about sourcing beef? The article stated that farmers close to stores were not contacted. It would be such a positive push both for conscious farmers and Chipotle to serve local beef.
““I am ALL for grass-fed beef! I LOVE Chipotle. My problem with sourcing beef from Australia is the fact that is has to be transported in the most environmentally unfriendly way. This stuff can’t go by ocean, right? And even if it does, that means millions of gallons of fuel and refrigeration liquid. That meat won’t be fresh. I would so love to see American farmers go back to the good ol’ days, where animals weren’t hopped up on drugs and hormones. I just don’t see this as an advantageous endeavor for anyone except Chipotle.””
Shut up. Just. Shut. Up. There are a lot of people on this planet and they need to EAT. If anyone else this same attitude as the crybaby quoted in the above article, do us all a fa or and volunteer to remedy the situation by jumping right outside the flight path of our planet in the solar system. See ya. There are plenty of problems, and if you can do naught but fuss about them without offering solutions, then just LEAVE.
I don’t eat out much at all…rarely these days. But now that I’ve heard all this, I am definitely headed for Chipotle next time I do eat out.
Heather Chilton Wormsley via Facebook says
From another angle… instead of outcry, TX cattle farmers should step up and raise cattle that is not CAFO.
Heather W. says
From another angle… instead of outcry, TX cattle farmers should step up and raise cattle that is not CAFO.
Joan Smith says
For those of us who have been aware of our foods for many years, 40 in my case, it’s the long term trends that are the most encouraging. I can buy kefir and Kombucha and a huge selection of organic produce from my local grocery chain, HEB. They are putting a big emphasis on organics, and have a choice of 2 brands of grass feed beef, for example. I always shop my local farmers and farmer’s markets first, but the choices are there.
This thrills me because it means more people are making informed, healthy choices.
I’m putting my money where my mouth is. I have never eaten at Chipotle before, but I have just downloaded their app to my phone so it will be convenient to do so from now on.
M. Davis says
Of course I’m all for less cruelty to animals! Also, if you MUST eat meat, grass fed is much healthier. As for it coming from Australia, all America has to do is grow their own in the same healthy way instead of those dreadful,dirty,polluted factory farms the producers seem to love. Such farms have no regard for the animals eating the meat, nor for the animals providing it.
I think Chipotle is moving in the right direction. Sure, it’s not the “perfect” solution, but no matter what, someone is going to have an issue with the way they decide to do something. Plus, it’s still fast food and probably still the best you can find. I know when I eat out, it’s probably lower quality than what I cook at home, but eating out is about the experience for me (and avoiding dishes!)
I’d rather buy grass-fed beef from across the world than conventional beef from my neighbor because it gives money and support to grass-fed farmers. Hopefully more beef farmers notice that there is a large demand for grass-fed beef and can eventually move towards feeding their cows grass. And maybe someday our grass-fed beef supply will dominate the conventional model. I applaud Chipotle for moving in this direction.
Stephanie Berry says
Good for Chipotle! Go get that responsibly raised clean non cancer causing beef and too bad for American cattle men who have made these dastardly compromises. Perhaps they will rethink their horrible agreement to ignore what is healthy for human beings for the sake of profit. IT pays to have the courage and integrity to do what is right.
I applaud Chipotle for not giving in to the lowest common denominator and serving sub-standard (IMHO)US. “grass-fed” beef. IF more ranchers would move back to the proven Managed Intensive Grazing methods that are known to rehabilitate the prairies and improve the climate by reducing pesticide and nitrogen usage we would all be better off. The fact that Australia is the only country in the world to do so in sufficient quantity is to their foresight. The movement of food by large ocean freighters is the most efficient means of transport and more efficient that transportation by train or truck. Support your local small-volume TRUE grass-fed beef ranchers by helping them increase demand and you WILL see the prices go down.
Americans eat meat at least 3 meals a day. In order to keep up with the demand and make grass fed affordable for EVERYONE americans would have to give up eating so much meat. It is truly very hard to feed our entire population healthy grassfed beef. I do have an idea that might help. Instead of growing tobacco and wasting precious land on such a horrible product that kills so many people, we can instead use that land to grow organically and raise cattle humanely.
I think that Chipotle should start their own farms. That way they can be sure of the source and support the local(US) economy. I’m glad they serve grass-fed beef even if it is from Australia.
At least Chipotle is putting the traditional ranchers on notice that maybe they should change their practices. Many still do not get it no antibiotics growth hormones or finished on corn. The consumer is also making a choice along with the countries who refuse GMOs
Caryl Elzinga says
To be upfront, I’ll preface this comment by saying that we’ve been raising grass fed organic beef for nearly 2 decades, at a large enough scale that is our primary living. We’re passionate about growing grassfed organic. We’ve watched the grass fed market grow through the dedication of true believers, become trendy, and now become co-opted by industrial agriculture. I am surprised how many people assume that Chipotle is virtuous- they have had a very effective marketing campaign. There have been many offers by existing American grass fed producers to supply grass fed beef to Chipotle, but not at a price point that Chipotle finds favorable. If Chipotle truly wanted to increase the amount of grassfed beef raised in this country, they could offer a market premium to producers, and U.S. producers would respond (it would only take a few months to convert if there were market rewards). It is not a supply issue; it is a price issue. In other words, it is cheaper for Chipotle to import grass fed beef from Australia than to cultivate a supply in the U.S by paying a premium (even a small one) over commercial cattle prices. Why is that?? We really know nothing about where the beef actually comes from in Australia, how it raised, and, most importantly, where and how it was slaughtered. My big question is, why is the Australian beef so cheap?
Joseph Croft says
Good for Chipotle! If more U.S. restaurants choose to serve grass-fed beef, then more U.S. beef producers will be forced by supply and demand to raise grass-fed beef. Lets plow the corn fields and grow grass instead!