An excellent example of how a fast-growing company can implement a strategy similar to the Slow Money Alliance strategy of using food as an investment bridge is the Chipotle business model. While it’s not placing investment dollars in the American food system in the singular sense as you and I would place them in farmers/growers/producers, it is an example of how corporate America’s action can accomplish the same goal.
We’re all familiar with Chipotle. But how much do you and I know about how Chipotle chooses the suppliers of its ingredients? Have you ever given thought to where those ingredients come from? Chipotle has.
Here’s an example. On the Huffington Post today was an article entitled “Chipotle’s on the Farm” where the Chipotle team listened deeply to the farmer, Bev Eggleston: “The Chipotle team was intently listening. They weren’t here for show. They were here to learn. And to buy meat for their growing empire. This wasn’t the last stop on their farm tour either — they were scouring the country looking for farmers like Bev.”
Chipotle’s philosophy is Food with Integrity. They source “the highest quality, nutritious ingredients from local and family farmers who are committed to sustainably raising antibiotic and hormone-free meats and organic vegetables.” Chipotle looks back into the food chain. The company researches how its vegetables are grown and how its pigs and chickens are raised, “based on a foundation of not exploiting animals, the environment or people.”
I can remember the first time I noticed that the sour cream served in Cincinnati Chipotle restaurants was produced in central Ohio. It was strikingly different… fresher, clearer in taste… than any commercial sour cream I’d tasted.
These are choices corporations can make. It turns out that choosing in favor of quality and of sustainability and of humane treatment is very, very profitable. We, as consumers, have the power to drive corporations’ decisions about quality and sustainability through the standards we hold them to, by simply asking questions and making choices.