Chipotle Mexican Grill has announced that effective this month, 100 percent of the fast casual chain's sour cream and 65 percent of the chain's cheese will come from milk made exclusively by pasture-raised cows. To qualify as pasture-raised, every cow has daily access to outdoor pastures, and is never fed any hormones, just a vegetarian, plant-based diet, according to the company.
Calling it an important milestone for Chipotle and the fast-food industry, founder Steve Ells said in a statement, "We are constantly looking at every ingredient we use to make our food and how we can get them from better, more sustainable sources," adding, "For too long, food made with more sustainably raised ingredients has been out of reach to many consumers, but we are changing that. It's one of the ways we are changing the way people think about and eat fast food. Food made with these great ingredients should be available and affordable to everyone."
Chipotle has a long-standing commitment to animal welfare; the chain already serves naturally raised meats that do not contain hormones or antibiotics. And the chain says that cows are often portrayed in food packaging and advertising as living in bucolic farmlands with access to fresh grass and clean water, when the reality is that 75 percent of the nation's dairy cows never set food in a pasture, and are fed diets high in added hormones, antibiotics and unnatural ingredients. The company says that, not only is pasture-raised dairy better for the cows and for human health, but it's also the responsible choice for the environment: "According to a study conducted by the USDA, cows raised with regular access to the outdoors emitted fewer greenhouse gases and contributed less to phosphorous runoff, which is responsible for soil erosion and depletion of natural resources."
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A longstanding commitment to sustainability, Chipotle also buys most of its produce from farms located within 250 miles of each location. And last year, they announced The Chipotle Cultivate Foundation--a non-profit that supports family farms and ranchers in developing sustainable practices and youth-targeted education programs focused on food and healthy eating.
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