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The Great Green Hope: The Greenest Burrito

Posted by: Ryan Puckett
Posted: July 14, 2009
Categories: Uncategorized

Others may define things more narrowly, but in my opinion, how food is farmed and raised is very much about being eco-friendly, sustainable, environmentally conscious or green. Personally, I try to choose foods that are locally grown, naturally and humanely raised, and, if possible, organic. Not everything I want to eat is available this way, but I try.

Some filmmakers have a similar view about how food is grown and its environmental impact, among other issues. Food Inc. is slated to arrive at the Landmark Theatre’s Keystone Art Cinema on Friday, July 31. The ‘About the Film’ section of the official movie site describes the problem: “Our nation's food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment.”

I’m pretty eager to see this movie, and I’ve heard good things about it. Moviegoers reportedly are leaving the theatre thinking differently. Considering the importance of farming and agriculture on the state’s economy and that Indy sometimes seems like the apostrophe restaurant capital of the world (i.e., Chili’s, Don Pablo’s, Friday’s, McDonald’s, etc.) , it may be pretty interesting to see how Hoosiers react to it.

What I find particularly interesting about Food Inc. is that Chipotle Mexican Grill has partnered with the film’s producers to promote the documentary. According to a news release, the chain is bringing the “message about America's food practices to consumers… to showcase its eco-friendly ‘Food with integrity’ philosophy,”

I have always been smitten with Chipotle for a fast, fresh burrito. When I went to grad school, Chipotle was a weekly staple in my diet. I declared my love for Chipotle in 2002 when it started featuring naturally raised pork from Niman Ranch on their menu. Today, Chipotle features naturally raised chicken (and beef at Indiana locations!) organic beans, sustainably grown avocados, rGBH-free sour cream and the list goes on.

When I share about my affinity for Chipotle with friends and colleagues, I frequently hear that they favor the competition. They appreciate the variety of menu options and prefer the ingredients the other chains have to offer.

They often mistakenly believe that Chipotle is run by McDonald’s and is therefore evil. (Fact: McDonald’s became a minority stakeholder in Chipotle in 1998, majority holder in 2001 and completely divested its shares by the fall of 2006. The main thing Chipotle gained from McDonald’s was a lesson in building a national brand.)

The point is that not all chain restaurants are created equal. Chipotle is doing some fantastic things to offer its customers the greenest burrito in the greenest buildings with the greenest restaurant management processes. I’m not saying you won’t occasionally find me at one of Chipotle’s competitors, but when possible, Chipotle’s the choice of this Indyhub Spoke.

There are plenty of other eateries in town featuring local, sustainable ingredients such as the Loft Restaurant at Trader’s Point Creamery and the deli at Goose the Market. Let’s hope the trend continues. It’s up to you and me to support it!


Ryan Puckett is principal of two21 LLC, a communication firm with a focus on providing creative content, advocacy and communications strategy for all things pertaining to sustainability. Ryan is an Indiana University-Bloomington grad and alum of Northwestern University’s School of Journalism. He lives in Broad Ripple with his wife, son and dog, is a veteran of 160+ Phish shows and is a long-suffering Cubs fan. Contact Ryan at ryan@two-21.com or on Twitter @rmpuckett.


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