Several weeks ago, Chipotle founder Steve Ells published a column headlined "Conventional vs. Grass-fed Beef." As you've probably heard, Chipotle prefers the latter—the fast-casual burrito chain has a lot to say about agricultural reform, ethical food, etc. But here the subject is more complicated than the title suggests: Ells was defending Chipotle's decision to stop buying exclusively domestic beef in favor of importing some of it from Australia, where the grass-fed supply is better. It's a classic food-ethics connundrum: should you go with the higher production standard, or the food produced closer to home? Chipotle chose the former, a perfectly defensible choice if you just have the two.
Some news in the world of sustainable food: Chipotle is responding to beef supply shortages by considering looser standards. Instead of aiming to avoid all beef treated with antibiotics, the burrito chain and sustainable ag advocate may start accepting cows treated for illness, while still avoiding those given antibiotics as a matter of routine. It's a defensible place to draw the line.