The Chipotle company has become perhaps the biggest player in the world of fast casual food thanks in large part to its commitment to quality ingredients.
While the mainstream media predictably went into attack mode over the company’s decision to remove (virtually) all GMO ingredients from its restaurants, Chipotle has remained steadfast in improving its product.
Their food is far from health food store fare right now, but it’s still undeniably a cut above other similar chains, even if it does contain a considerable amount of sodium.
One area where Chipotle is seeking to improve is in the tortilla department. It’s not an easy switch due to the sheer size of the company’s operations, which includes pumping out over 800,000 tortillas per day.
That number could grow to over 1 million in the near future according to this article from the New York Times, and those tortillas are about to get healthier if Chipotle’s plans for a new tortilla come to fruition.
From 11 to 4: Revamping America’s Favorite Tortilla
Okay so there are probably better tortillas in authentic Mexican restaurants and home kitchens, but Chipotle’s tortillas have become quite popular over the years.
At the same time, many people don’t realize that those tortillas contain a few things that would probably cause them to change their mind about purchasing them if they were listed on the back of a grocery store package.
The current 11 ingredients are as follows according to the Times: Flour, water, whole-wheat flour, canola oil, salt, baking soda, wheat bran, fumaric acid, calcium propionate, sorbic acid and sodium metabisulfate.
But the new tortillas have only 4 ingredients if all goes well with the current testing period: whole wheat flour, water, oil and salt.
“We aspire to make artisanal tortillas on an industrial scale,” said Steve Ells, founder of Chipotle.
As Ells and co. are finding out, the challenges of serving food from high quality ingredients on a large scale is not easy. It’s a constant excuse for fast food and other huge companies as to why their ingredients are so chemical-laden: doing it ensures the same taste, appearance and more of food served to millions of customers.
And while Chipotle’s tortillas aren’t the healthiest thing out there, the company should still be commended for taking the bull by the horns in changing the ingredients and removing the preservatives.
Chipotle will also be using a flour and water sourdough-style base with a more traditional hard white wheat for these tortillas, which while not officially organic should be much healthier than traditional whole wheat tortillas when it’s all said and done.
The fermentation process is the way traditional healthy breads are made, but it takes much more time and work than the mass-produced bread made by Subway and most other restaurants.
As those restaurants have noticed by their shrinking bottom lines, it’s becoming clear that everyone wants non-GMO, preservative-free and artisan-style food, and this move will see to it that Chipotle stays ahead of the curve.
And while you’re probably still better off just grabbing a bowl with rice and beans, the removal of preservatives and the old school fermentation process in the new tortillas is a bold move in the right direction not just for both Chipotle but for the food system in general.