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Chipotle to buy more local produce this summer

DENVER Chipotle Mexican Grill said Monday it would increase the amount of locally grown produce it uses by 10 percent this summer as it expands its Food with Integrity program.

Chipotle plans to purchase at least 35 percent of at least one bulk produce item in all of its restaurants from local farmers when the item is seasonally available, the company said. Last summer Chipotle sought to buy at least 25 percent of produce from local farmers and growers.

Chipotle said it expects to have more than 25 local farms in its network to supply romaine lettuce, green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, red onions and/or oregano to its more than 860 units nationwide.

Chipotle also serves mostly natural, hormone-free meat from humanely raised animals. In addition, 35 percent of all of its beans are grown organically grown and all of its cheese and sour cream is made with milk from cows that are never given the synthetic hormone rBGH.

“Many consumers are just now starting to understand where their food comes from and how it’s raised, but we have known for a long time there are many benefits to food that is raised right,” said Steve Ells, Chipotle’s founder, chairman and co-chief executive.

Asurvey commissioned by Chipotle and conducted by Harris Interactive found that more than half of adults polled said it is important for restaurants and markets in their local area to purchase produce and other ingredients from local farms. In addition, 52 percent said they are more likely to dine at a restaurant that purchases produce from farms in their area.

Contact Dina Berta at [email protected].

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