What do burritos and Willie Nelson have in common?
Next Wednesday, Aug. 29, Chipotle Mexican Grill will donate proceeds from sales of items made with naturally raised pork, beef and chicken to Farm Aid, a nonprofit organization that supports and promotes family farming and sustainable agriculture. Chipotle will contribute up to $50,000 to Farm Aid.
Since the early 1980s, family farms have been disappearing from America's rural landscape, often replaced by factory farms or CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) that house animals in high density in tiny pens where copious amounts of antibiotics are needed to prevent disease. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, pork producers alone use three times the amount of antibiotics as are used to treat human illness to keep confined hogs from getting sick.
In contrast, family farms usually promote more sustainable farming practices, such as providing ample pasture on which to graze, disallowing the use of antibiotics and added hormones, and favoring vegetarian feed for livestock.
"We decided long ago that we didn't want Chipotle's success to be tied to the exploitation of animals, farmers, or the environment," said Chipotle Founder, Chairman, and CEO Steve Ells. "Family farms tend to preserve more traditional ways of farming, and produce better food because of it. Like Farm Aid, Chipotle understands the important role of family farmers and that helps guide the decisions we make in sourcing food."
Chipotle began its quest to serve better food in 2000, when it became the first restaurant chain to buy only naturally raised pork - pork that comes from pigs that are raised in a humane way, on open pastures or in deeply bedded barns; that are never given antibiotics or added hormones; and fed a pure vegetarian diet - from a network of family owned farms.