Is Chipotle healthier than a fried burrito?

Is Chipotle healthy? You know, like compared to a fried burrito?

Stupid question, right? Chipotle is fresh-mex! They only use the finest, organic, all-natural ingredients. They don’t fill their burritos with processed foods and deep fry them.

Okay. So, follow-up question. What’s the opposite of healthy?

Sick. Right?

So how can you tell me Chipotle is healthy when so many people got sick eating there?

In October, people who had eaten at Chipotle started showing symptoms of E. coli, an outbreak that eventually affected more than 50 people in 11 states. An outbreak of a different strain of E. coli then affected five more people in December. Then at a Boston Chipotle in December, more than 120 people contracted noro-virus.
USA Today, Feb. 9, 2016

E. Coli doesn’t care about how trendy your restaurant is or the big smiles on the staff. The noro-virus doesn’t care about the polished concrete floor, or bright track lighting. When they get in your belly, your pants will turn smelly.

Do you think E. coli might be getting on the vegetables when you fertilize them with poo-poo? That’s what organic farming is, after all.

And how about transporting those veggies? They are stacked in damp cardboard boxes, loaded in a dark trailer, and trucked to the restaurant. (I share some stories hauling produce here.)

And when you chop them up without cooking them, and let them stew in a steel tub behind the counter, do you think you’re also stewing them in noro-virus?

This Monday, Chipotle shut down all their locations for a company-wide meeting where they discussed these issues.

More than 50,000 employees attended the meeting by gathering in areas such as hotel conference rooms and movie theaters to hear broadcast remarks from executives. Co-CEO Steve Ells apologized that the company’s food made people sick while co-CEO Monty Moran outlines steps Chipotle has taken to reduce the risk of future outbreaks. Those include testing ingredients on farms and in its central kitchens and implementing techniques like blanching raw vegetables to kill germs.
USA Today, February 9, 2016

Okay, so now they are going to blanch their vegetables.
Well, what’s blanching? Think of it as frying, but with water and for a short amount of time.

Whoa, flash frying vegetables in water? Not so fresh-mex anymore, are we, Chipotle?

That brings me back to the original question. Is Chipotle healthier than a fried burrito?

Look, I don’t always get fried burritos. But when I do, I get them at the Kwik Kent truck stop in Kermit, Texas.

That place is great! I get fuel for me Peterbilt, then I go inside the store and grab fried burritos from the warmer.

Honestly, it used to be a great mystery to me that I nor anyone else got sick from eating there. As much as I like the place, let’s just say their food handling procedures violate my Yankee sensibilities.

It’s a truck stop not too far from Mexico. What can I say?

Anyways, I finally solved that mystery one day when I bit into a fried burrito and the scalding hot filling gushed into my mouth and burnt my tongue. And it dawned on me. There’s no way E. coli or noro-virus can survive the burrito’s dunk into the 375-degree fryolator oil.

So all you millennials can say all you want about the nitrates in the processed meat or the trans-fats in the cheese-food. My fried burrito is healthier than your disease-ridden Chipotle!

  1. USA Today, “Chipotle briefly shuts for talk on food safety,” by Hadley Malcolm, Tuesday, February 9, 2016. Print Edition.

One comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    Blanching is NOT frying! Water is nothing like oil. Blanching doesn’t add fat and calories to vegetables like frying does. If you were truly interested in health and nutrition, you would care about not only the potential short term impact on your body, but also on the long term nutrition and energy the the food you take in provides. Not getting sick is not an indicator that something is of nutritional value to your body. Long term impact of foods like fried burritos on heart health and blood pressure and diabetes should be of concern to you if your body is a temple.

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