Where is my magnifying glass and my houndstooth Sherlock Holmes hat? Because I am on the case peeps…tracking down answers to the world’s mysteries!! Sort of. Well, maybe not mysteries. Ok maybe I got an answer to one question. But I got an answer none the less. And you, my fellow crunchy friends, may want to take a gander.
So here is the 411. A friend of mine posted a question on Facebook asking how can a restaurant say they are going to go GMO free in 2014. What about the corn and flour tortillas they serve? All wheat and corn is genetically modified right? The company she is talking about is Chipotle and is a big favorite among A LOT of people. Plus their commercials ROCK!!! Anyhow…so we were wondering if in fact this was just a marketing ploy or a ruse to attract more customers. If so, well, no bueno Chipotle. No bueno!!
Food with integrity? RE-HE-HE-EALLLY? (That is my Ace Venture ala Jim Carey impression) I nailed it right? Thought so.
But first here is my understanding about GMO’s regarding corn and wheat. I have read that MOST corn we eat is in fact GMO unless you buy organic corn grown from heirloom seeds. However, ALL the wheat here in the US is genetically modified. It was modified because the tall wheat could not withstand the winds. They would bend and water could not make it up the “stalks?” in order to keep the plant alive. Sort of like laying on your arm too long and it falling asleep. Ya know what I mean? So wheat was genetically modified to be shorter. Whereas wheat used to be 5ft + tall long ago, now it is maybe 3ft tall. I am not saying I am 100% right on this; but I would say I’m about 96.78% accurate. Sooooo…now that you know that I can continue telling you about my investigation.
I did not want to believe that my beloved Chipotle was trying to deceive us. Please say it ain’t so!! I decided to go to their website. I advise you all to go check it out. Lots of great info about where their meats and veggies come from and changes they plan to make. However I did not see anything about the GMO free plan. So I emailed them. Yep, I’m that girl.
Here is my email to them:
Hi there…A friend of mine on facebook said yall were planning on going GMO free in 2014. But then she brought up the fact that all wheat nowadays is genetically modified. She included corn in that but I believe there is corn that is not GMO. I could be wrong. Either way, what will your tortillas be made of if not wheat? I definitely do not mind paying more for safe food. And getting to eat out and still have safe food is a bigger plus. Thanks so much for your efforts!!
And the response I received not long after:
Thank you very much for your interest in this. Indeed, it’s our intention to eliminate GMOs from our menu. We do not have a firm date set for when we will achieve this goal, but we have made some great strides in this direction. Our biggest push right now is eliminating soybean oil from our cooking process. We’ve already taken the soybean oil from our fryers and replaced it with GMO-free sunflower oil. All our restaurants have eliminated soybean oil from the beans, carnitas, and barbacoa and switched to GMO-free rice-bran oil or sunflower oil. In several markets, we have eliminated soybean oil from our rice, fajitas, chicken, steak, and vinaigrette and switched to the rice-bran oil as well, and we do hope to have phased out the soybean oil in our restaurants entirely by 2014.
I am familiar with your friend’s concern about how wheat is genetically modified; William Davis talks about this in his book Wheat Belly. When we talk about reducing GMOs, we are more concerned with those organisms that are genetically modified to be herbicide-resistent (or “Roundup ready”), not those that have been genetically selected for certain traits, as modern-day wheat has. We do still intend to make our tortillas with wheat, but if you have concerns about wheat that are specific to the way it has been genetically manipulated, please know that it is very easy to avoid wheat in our restaurants. The only wheat-containing items we serve are the burrito- and taco-sized flour tortillas. So you are free to enjoy salads, bowls, or corn tacos.
I know this is a complex issue, but I hope my response clarifies somewhat the distinction between the GMOs our restaurants are trying to eliminate and ingredients like wheat that have been heavily genetically selected and bred to have certain characteristics. We appreciate your recognition of our efforts and we hope to serve you soon.
Customer Service Consultant
Chipotle Mexican Grill
How cool is that? Why do I feel like I am BFF’s with a celebrity or something? Well, I liked the honesty and am pretty cool with their efforts. What do y’all think? Food with integrity like their ad says? I’m gonna go ahead and say I believe so. And just because Chipotle and I are close…y’all don’t be hittin me up for free burrito bowls.