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Chipotle To Use More Than 15 Million Pounds Of Local Produce In 2013. (Photo: Business Wire)

Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) plans to serve more than 15 million pounds of locally grown produce in its restaurants this year, up from its 2012 goal of 10 million pounds. As the only national restaurant company with a significant commitment to using local produce on a large scale, Chipotle has steadily increased its locally sourced produce supply since beginning the program in 2008.

Chipotle to use more than 15 million pounds of local produce in 2013. (Photo: Business Wire)

Chipotle to use more than 15 million pounds of local produce in 2013. (Photo: Business Wire)

“We are changing the way people think about and eat fast food,” said Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle. “That means pushing ourselves to find the best quality ingredients – ingredients that have traditionally been available only in high end restaurants and specialty food markets – and making them available in way that is accessible and affordable.”

With many people paying more attention to food and where it comes from, locally grown produce is on the rise. A 2012 Mintel survey of 2,000 adults found that more than half (52%) of U.S. consumers say it’s more important to buy local produce than organic options. Most produce travels some 1,500 miles from where it is grown to where it is consumed. All of Chipotle’s locally grown produce comes from within 350 miles of the restaurants where it will be served.

Chipotle will work with a network of more than 70 local, family-owned farms to provide bell peppers, red onions, jalapenos, oregano, and romaine lettuce for its restaurants. Chipotle restaurants in Florida and California also serve locally grown tomatoes, as well as lemons and avocados in California. Chipotle’s use of locally grown produce is rooted in its belief that local produce arrives at its restaurants closer to the time it is harvested and results in better tasting food. Supporting local farms also creates and sustains opportunities for family farms in rural communities around the country.

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