In its continued quest to be the Good Guy of fast food, Chipotle has announced it has completely eliminated GMO ingredients from its menu. Beginning today, all of the foods—including the oils used to fry tortilla chips and cook vegetables—will come from farms who don't use genetically modified organisms, a labor of love that CEO Steve Ells says has been years in the making. "We’re working with our farmers to plan enough of these crops we need to meet our supply," he told the Times, referencing issues the company has had keeping up with demand for ethically raised pork and beef.
Corn was the easiest product to replace, as the chain already had a relationship with a farm producing GMO-free corn. But frying oils like soybean were a huge undertaking, as the oils were used in everything from frying chips and tortillas to acting as shortening in the company's flour tortillas. "We won't use lard for tortillas because of our vegan and vegetarian customers, and we can't use palm oil because of the environmental impact," spokesperson Chris Arnold explained. The company has replaced the problematic oils with non-GMO canola, sunflower and rice bran oils.
"They say these ingredients are safe, but I think we all know we'd rather have food that doesn't contain them," Ells explained to CNN. The anti-GMO stance has become a popular one for health enthusiasts, but science has cautioned that there's no indication that genetically modified foods cause negative health effects. Astrophysicist and generally awesome dude Neil DeGrasse Tyson went on a rant last year, pointing out that humans have "systematically genetically modified the foods, the vegetables, the animals we have eaten ever since we cultivated them; it's called artificial selection, that's how we genetically modify them." However, bad practices by certain GMO-friendly farms also call the production of these foods into question.