It’s summer, and if you’re like us, that means more moving around than usual. Most of what’s involved in this is good – we get to see different things, learn from new surroundings, expand our notions of the world beyond ourselves. But there’s an underbelly to travel, whether local or distant, and that’s the challenge of feeding yourselves well. At home, we take pains to eat and cook mostly at home, because that’s where we can best get the healthy, delicious, whole foods that we know we thrive on. Not so much when we venture into the unknown.
Last weekend, my husband and I took our kids for an overnight stay at a hotel in a neighbouring city. Again, this was mostly fun, but on the morning we were to leave, our youngest couldn’t get out of bed due to fever. And on the drive home, our middle son threw up in the car (he doesn’t get carsick).
The culprit, we knew, what what we had been eating. Although I had packed fruit and water, we were relying on restaurant meals. We were avoiding fast food, but our more expensive restaurant meals weren’t much better in the end. There were no other causes for their illness, and they recovered as soon as we got home: I think that we let our children eat themselves sick.
What if there were fast options for on the go that were actually healthful? When Chipotle sent us some grow books and invited us to try out some of their food, I knew that maybe such a goal could be achieved. With tag lines like “Whole or Nothing”, Chipotle is leading the charge on responsibly sourcing high quality, local and organic foods in the fast casual industry. Thinking back to our crappy feeding experience while away, I was more than eager to find a better alternative and take my boys on a Chipotle outing.
Chipotle was downright busy at lunchtime, but the line moved quickly. It has a simple, rustic decor, but otherwise looked like a bustling eatery. It distinguishes itself quickly enough though, with the following statement prominently posted right next to the menu: “Food With Integrity: We serve ingredients that are raised with respect for the animals, the environment and the farmers. That includes meat raised without the use of antibiotics or added hormones and seasonably available local and organic produce.” A sigh of relief and ray of sunshine to whet the appetite!
The food offerings are at once simple and varied: different types of burritos, bowls, tacos, and salads. There are several meat options, but we enjoyed the tofu special called “sofritas”, and had a burrito bowl and tacos. We chose which types of rice and beans we wanted, as well as a range of toppings (4 types of salsa, sour cream, cheese, etc.) and it was impossible not to notice how fresh the lettuce and tomato salsa were. (I would later learn that their tomato salsa is prepared by human hands every morning on site. No wonder it’s so good.) From what I had heard about Chipotle‘s commitment to fresh, wholesome food, I expected our meals to be delicious. They were.
If we had at Chipotle‘s during our travels instead of at the unknown pubs and restaurants we found, we would have saved a pile of money and not gotten sick. We would have filled ourselves with real food that is delicious and nutritious, and known that our money is supporting a fast-growing food giant that is blazing the trail to responsible sourcing and preparation of food. Take a read of Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser and fast food’s enormous impact on animal, agricultural, and human health, and it’s no exaggeration to say that Chipotle is making a huge positive impact where it is desperately needed.
A few years ago, a vegan friend committed to all things eco sent me an untitled email with a link. It was an animated clip of a fast casual restaurant’s concern over factory farming and their commitment to making better choices, and the first time I heard of Chipotle. I wouldn’t forget it, and having had their food, I’m a good old-fashioned fan. Here’s the clip: sometimes a cartoon is worth a thousand words.