Tag Archives: locavore

West Coast and Atlantic Northeast dominate U.S. in Farmers Markets (map)

A recent study from the USDA released this map of farmers markets. Notice that the Northeast and West Coast dominate (dark blue).

From the report:

“Direct-to-consumer sales are highest in the Northeast, on the West Coast, and around a few isolated metropolitan areas throughout the country.”

“Farms with direct-to-consumer sales are most likely to have neighbors who also participate in direct sales—this is a neighborhood effect”

…choosy moms choose farmers markets and the whole neighborhood improves?

“The West Coast has a long-standing system of farmers’ markets and farmerto-grocers’ marketing channels dating back to the 1970s. Small-scale farmers began selling organic and high value-added niche foods to upscale restaurants in the late 1970s (now a national trend) and are now part of farm-to-school marketing arrangements.”

“Another U.S. hot spot for local food sales is the Atlantic seaboard, particularly the Northeast census division. Local food sales farms in the Northeast generated 14.4 percent of U.S. local food production.”

Source: Direct and Intermediate Marketing of Local Foods in the US, USDA (page 11)

Chipotle: the model fast food chain

There are only a few places that I recommend eating at and Chipotle is one of them. The food is quality and the ownership cares equally about health and profits. Which sets them apart from all other fast food chains.

pronounced: chi-poht-lay

Our country has reached a strange time when a “green” company is booming during a recession. Yet, it is happening all across the country. Since 2006, Chipotle has tripled is revenue and doubled the number of stores.

Which makes it all the more unique that they don’t advertise on TV. They have no Ronald McDonald or Jared the weight loss wunder-kid (Subway).

Just what are they doing to convince you to buy their burritos?

They are raising prices and improving quality…and people are loving them for it!

Maybe Americans really do want good food, or perhaps they are beginning to recognize the quality difference. Either way this is worth looking into…

The story starts back in 1999, when founder Steve Ells visited a farm. What he saw was a CAFO and it disturbed him deeply. Ever since he has been on a mission to fix the problem.

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“I did not want Chipotle’s success to be tied to this kind of exploitation.”

Steve Ells, Founder & CEO

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Fast forward to today and Chipotle has one of the most effective sustainable and ethically sourced supply chains. They even buy meat from Polyface farms which was featured in the book Omnivore’s Dilemma.

They have an amazingly strong commitment to meat free of hormones, antibiotics, and cages. Produce that is organic, local, and fresh produce. Well, most of the time…

While the farmers markets in this country are exploding, the transition to big business is hitting roadblocks. Small farmers are great for us locavores, but to meet the needs of a typical Chipotle requires much more. A cooperative network of farms, trucks, coordinated deliveries, and processing facilities.

This means that Chipotle restaurants can’t go completely organic and sustainable. They have to wait for the infrastructure to be built, or build it themselves.

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Ells said in his statement to Congress:

“This move transformed the way we run our business…it set us on a journey to examine each of the ingredients we use to make our food, and how we could get them from more sustainable sources.”

Ells concedes that Chipotle’s business model is not easily replicated by other restaurant companies as the supply of ingredients from more sustainable sources is limited, and the costs tend to be higher for buyers of these better ingredients.

“Chipotle is a unique success story in that we have found a way to serve more expensive, sustainably raised ingredients, but in a way that remains affordable to the average customer.”

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I can’t say enough about what they are doing. We are all living in a better world because of their work.

If you want to learn more about Chipotle’s commitments visit their Food With Integrity program.

In the meantime, watch this 2-minute animation they made.

The song is a Willie Nelson cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” and it’s pretty powerful:

This is not their first foray into the movie business. In 2009, the company sponsored free screenings of the movie Food Inc. in 32 cities.

For this short they are purchasing time to show it as a preview at 5,700 movie theaters around the country.

Thank you Chipotle!