Yes, Chipotle is a little expensive but I think their food is extremely fresh and tasty. And during my last visit to this gourmet burrito joint, I noticed that a portion of their menu describes how each of their meats (cows, pigs, chickens, even dairy cows) is treated, i.e. no antibiotics, no hormones. Additional details are available on their website. I wrote to them to clarify whether the animals are also raised humanely. Here’s their response (it’s a lengthy one, but worth the read):
Thanks for writing us. We serve naturally-raised meats in our restaurants and this means that our livestock meets our natural-raised standards. We define naturally-raised as meat that comes from animals that are raised in a humane way, never given antibiotics or added hormones, and fed a pure vegetarian diet. All of our animals have room to roam but not all of our farms meet the criteria for “cage-free/free-range” and therefore, we classify them as naturally-raised.
Additionally, with regard to having “room to roam,” this all depends on size of the bird. For example, larger birds are going to have more square feet per bird. The general rule of thumb is that you can walk into the house and easily have at least three feet of space around you. The birds will scatter a little if there is room so having a 3-foot space all the way around you, easily, is actually a six-foot diameter circle. Rest assured, our chickens are raised in a large living space with plenty of room to move around and access to daylight. Unfortunately, chickens will consume anything they may find on the ground. Sometimes the things they find are good, but in other instances they do not have a discerning pallet and can consume things they shouldn’t.
This environment also allows us to control the chickens’ diet so that we can ensure that what they are eating is healthy and well-balanced, in addition to being 100-percent vegetarian and free of animal by-products. We have also worked with the leading humane treatment expert, Temple Grandin, who has approved our standards, which include diet/nutrition, space requirements for the animals, and very specific metrics regarding humane handling slaughter. Despite our efforts, we also know that there is a lot of room for improvement.
We have looked at free-range and we’ve even purchased from farmers who do this in the past. Unfortunately, demand far exceeds supply. We have made a lot of progress in selecting suppliers who practice techniques which vastly improve the quality of life for chickens, but we know we can do more. And we are definitely working on it. While we know there is more we can do, we’ve also come a long way so that is encouraging since we really believe it can be done and we’re committed to it.
They sound pretty genuine about their efforts and their concern about farm animal welfare. Go Chipotle!