Opinion: Behind the Burrito

by Megan Courage
BHS News

ChipotleYou can find over twenty Chipotle Mexican Grill locations in the twenty miles surrounding Braintree High, and over 1,500 locations nationwide. Chipotle has surged in popularity in the past year; especially in the third quarter of 2013, when sales skyrocketed over 15 percent. Not only is the chain extremely accessible, with new locations popping up all the time, but customers see it as a healthier alternative to typical fast-food places, like McDonalds and Burger King.

But does Chipotle live up to its reputation as “food with integrity”, as promoted by its recent cartoon commercial?

In the ad, Chipotle’s food is homemade with completely organic ingredients, in contrast to the big companies, which are vilified by injecting their poultry with growth hormones and keeping their cattle in inhumane conditions. It is true, all the pork used in Chipotle burritos and tacos comes from pigs raised naturally on family farms, but almost none of the produce or seasoning is organic. While Chipotle is not the worst option for eating out, here are four reasons it should not be your first choice:

1) Calories

An average Chipotle burrito weighs in between 1000-1300 calories. The flour tortilla, found at the base of all Chipotle burritos, accounts for a shocking 330 calories by itself.
Even a burrito bowl, which drops the tortilla, creates a meal that accounts for half the daily value of calories for an adult

2) Sodium Content

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends an intake of less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day. A typical burrito costs you in the neighborhood of 2,000 milligrams, almost an entire day’s worth. Too much sodium can result in high blood pressure and heart disease.

3) Genetic Modifications

Chipotle’s website lists all the ingredients that have been genetically modified so that customers who wish to avoid such products can do so. However, items containing genetically modified organisms include the oil used on fajita vegetables, both brown and white rice, steak, and products used in both flour and corn tortillas.

4) Cost

Chipotle burritos are more expensive than most individual items at other fast food chains. The cost of a burrito varies by geographic location and ingredients, with the cheapest being $6.25 for a veggie burrito in California, and the most expensive being over $8 for a steak burrito at a New York location, (not including the added costs for guacamole or extra meat). Because of increased popularity and food-cost inflation, Chipotle is planning to raise its menu prices in the first months of 2014.

Chipotle is a great treat once in a while, but to eat it regularly would be detrimental to your health. If you’re looking for a quick, healthy meal, don’t forget that most pizza and sub shops sell salads. A garden salad with grilled chicken and light dressing can weigh in at as little as 300 calories, with nutrients from the vegetables and protein from the chicken. Salads such as this cost, on average, as much money as a burrito, are just as filling, and much healthier in almost every aspect.