Chipotle Creates Sustainable Food Foundation, Film


Chipotle Mexican Grill has created a foundation to support sustainable food. The Denver-based fast casual restaurant chain is also debuting a film that shows the path to more sustainable farming.

The stop-motion animated short called "Back to the Start" is a first for Chipotle. It was directed by London-based Johnny Kelly and features a cover of the Coldplay song "The Scientist," sung by family farm advocate Willie Nelson.

Chipotle will show the two-minute film nationally beginning in September. It will appear on nearly 5,700 movie theater screens in advance of feature films. The goal is to educate consumers about Chipotle's favored farming methods, and demonstrate the differences between industrial farming and more sustainable methods. The film can also be viewed online at or on Facebook at chipotle.

"We produced this film to help illustrate the choices people face in deciding what to eat, and hope that it will encourage people to choose food that is raised with respect for the land, the animals, and the farmers that produce it," says Chipotle Founder, Chairman and CEO Steve Ells in a release.

The film depicts the story of a farmer whose family farm has evolved over time into a factory farm. In a moment of self-reflection, the farmer realizes that his animal factory is not consistent with his vision for the farm. As the song lyrics suggest, the farmer goes "back to the start" by ridding his farm of its factory qualities and returning to more sustainable farming methods.

The song is available for purchase on iTunes, with proceeds ($0.60 per download) benefitting the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, which supports family farms. Chipotle, which claims to be the world's largest restaurant seller of naturally raised meats, operates more than 1,100 restaurants nationwide. The restaurant also pioneered the use of organic, locally grown ingredients in fast food.

Chipotle has donated more than $2 million over the past two years to philanthropic organizations including Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, The Nature Conservancy,, The Lunch Box and the Niman Ranch Scholarship Fund.

In October, Chipotle will host "Cultivate Chicago," its first one-day festival combining music, art and food, which is intended to get people thinking and talking about food and food issues, the company says. Attendees will have the opportunity to sample and purchase food crafted by local artisans, while a beer garden will include craft ales and organic wines available for tasting.

Admission to the festival is free, and Chipotle says it intends to host similar events in other cities.

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