I had heard a little info in the healthy living community about the chain of Mexican fast food restaurants called Chipotle. I recalled rumblings that it had a local/organic/be-kind-to-animals philosophy. I had read some reviews that the food just plain tasted good. But I didn’t seek one out in Birmingham (which I assumed would be the closest one to where I live) to try. We have plenty of Mexican fast food places other than Taco Bell so I just never thought much about trying Chipotle.
Then…the fateful night of the Grammy awards. While I was bundled up cheering on Adele, this commercial came on.
Well that got my attention and in a huge way. I replayed it for Stephen. He replayed it about 5 times. It wasn’t so much that we wanted to rush out and find Chipotle. It was bigger than that. We have watched Food, Inc. I’ve read all the Michael Pollan books. But this 2 minute commercial started something in both of us. Little by little, without thinking “Because of that commercial, I’m going to do this and this and this”, I made a few changes to how I approach our food.
We joined a CSA and have local produce ready to pick up each week. By local, I mean 5 miles away. I’m going to the Farmer’s market every other weekend and soon to be each week now that the Tuscaloosa River Market is up to full swing. I’m buying less meat and I know where it comes from when I do buy it. We have plans to get another deep freezer and purchase beef from a local farm for the fall/winter. And the biggest change is now I plan our meals around what is in season. For years, I have made a list of meals and then bought what I needed. That has completely changed. I now buy produce from the farmer’s market. That combined with our harvest basket from the CSA is what dictates the meals. Lots of tomatoes this week? More tomato dishes. Squash and zucchini everywhere? I’ll make it stuffed, sautéed, gratin, or shallow “fried”. Greens galore? Shakes, stir fries, pasta, and “chips”. I’m very fortunate that we have a pretty good variety of produce at Pepper Place market each week. I take a certain amount of money each week and buy what I can with it. I’ll plan meals around that and fill in what I need from the grocery store, and I’m sure to get as much local as I can from Publix.
Am I a locovore now? Maybe. Am I one of those crunchy people that wear only hemp and do my laundry in the river and forgo deodorant and shaving? Not quite. But eating close to the source and supporting local farms is a big priority. I’m grateful that we both have good jobs that have survived the lacking economy so we can absorb the cost of being choosy with our business.
While in Colorado, we ate at Chipotle for the first time. I got a burrito and he got steak salad. Chipotle has 4 options. Burritos, burrito bowls (all the stuff in a bowl, no tortilla), salads, and tacos. They have 4 choices of protein, and a variety of veggies and salsas. It’s a simple menu but they do it very well. Their “Food with Integrity” philosophy dictates that they try to source with local foods as much as possible or they won’t open a store.
Was it all it was cracked up to be? Yes. And we have one in Ttown, so that may be our new favorite place to get good food and feel good about eating it! I do have to keep in mind that while I’m eating food that I can feel good about, I’m also taking in a LOT of calories. These things are not “light”. Even a veggie bowl with just rice and vegetables is high in calories. So while I’m happily singing along with Willie Nelson and picturing cute pink piggies, I’m well aware that too many trips through the doors of Chipotle could turn me into one of those piggies.