Photo: Eric M. Martin, Flickr
Ay, caramba! Chipotle is running low on natural chicken, particularly at its restaurants in Southern California, reports the Orange County Register. This is a pretty big deal. After all, the chain likes to tout that its ingredients are a cut above your average fast-food fare, and let's be honest: to a certain crowd, part of the appeal of Chipotle is the side dish of sanctimony you get to enjoy as you imagine the chicken that's now the star of your burrito clucking around some bucolic barnyard somewhere while its KFC-destined kin were shivering in a cage waiting for their next mega-dose of antibiotics.
A spokesman for Chipotle told the Register that the chain had experienced a "disruption" in its supply of naturally raised chicken but that it's working to resolve the problem. There was no explanation as to why, all of a sudden, naturally raised chickens are in short supply. Alas, apparently the country doesn't keep a strategic reserve of the cluckers like it does for oil.
Later in the day, the same spokesman issued another statement, basically saying that the shortage demonstrates just how tough it is to be virtuous in a cutthroat world, calling it "a challenge...to source better ingredients from more sustainable sources when you are dealing on such a large scale." He said that currently, about 75 percent of all Chipotle's chicken is naturally raised but that "we are working hard to get back to 100 percent."
Ok, which begs the question: just what does "naturally raised" mean, anyway?
Chipotle has just one paragraph of explanation on its website, stating that its goal is to have all its chickens raised without the use of antibiotics or "additional additives." (Which suggests, of course, that they hadn't managed to meet this goal yet even before the big shortage.)
And get ready for the big disillusion: there's no mention at all of any happy clucking around a barnyard somewhere.