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May 28th, 2004

Nice Job, Chipotle!

Denver is blessed with an abundance of good, fairly priced Tex-Mex and Mexican food. This is the real stuff, too, just about as good as you can get in a big city. Interestingly Denver is also the home of a few popular chains: Quizno’s, Qdoba, and Chipotle.

I’m not a fan of Chipotle. Their burritos, to my tastes, aren’t very good and the chips are just ridiculous salty saltbombs. But there’s something very good about what Chipotle is doing: they’re going organic and free-range whenever possible. It’s all the brainchild of CEO Steve Ells.

The cool thing is that people are willing to pay a little more for fast food if it includes free range meats or organic veggies. The cost added ranges from 25 cents for chicken to $1 for pork. The free range pork is already in stores, and sales have actually increased despite the extra buck.

There’s also another chain called Good Times that only serves natural beef on all of its burgers.

While many would argue this isn’t as good as going veggie, I still think it’s a wonderful thing to see.

Posted in Food and Beverage

FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday May 28, 2004 -- 8:15:15 am
I like how you added that last line in there for me. :)

Unfortunately, the "organic" label is becoming less and less reliable as time passes. For instance, possible changes are in the works dairy to be able to labeled "organic" even if the cows had to be treated with an antibiotic because of an illness (which is common because the cows themselves are treated with pretty much the same poor level of treatment as regular cows (about 3/4 of the way down), which leaves them still prone to illness.) In addition, with chickens, labels such as "free-range" mean literally nothing. Free-range chickens are allow required to have a few minutes outside daily, but even those few minutes are overlooked if the weather is bad or conditions outside are considered "dangerous" (a very ambiguous label).

And with regards to fruits and vegetables, changes in the organic code are also going to really dilute the meaning of the label. The same Times article above discusses how "organic" farmers will now be allowed to use List 2 pesticides ("contains ingredients with a high probability of toxicity") and List 3 pesticides ("contains ingredients of unknown toxicity"). It's a big mess.

And apparently, the paperwork small farms have to file to be allowed to use the term organic has gotten so unwieldy and unreasonable, that many are simply continuing to farm organically, but have decided to go without the label. The CSA I belong to stopped using the term this year and has opted for the term "ecoganic" instead.

My point: "organic" is still a good thing, but the label seems destined to be ruined at this point.

FROM: Cat [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday May 28, 2004 -- 1:16:10 pm
It is my fervent hope that organic farmers will bypass the federal labelling and go for certification from another trustworthy source. For example, California or Oregon certified organic.

I'm so tired of getting messed with by big business I could scream. In a few years, there will be a house, and the house will have a garden.

FROM: Robert [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday May 30, 2004 -- 2:14:41 am
Chipotle's pork still is bland as heck.

What is this then?

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