By The Numbers: Chipotle

The other day, I was returning to my desk to eat my Chipotle burrito, when the elevator chatter got ugly. "I don't eat fast food," the guy with severe Euro-eyewear and breezy haircut said, dismissively.

What? Chipotle considered fast food? Maybe, it's true, Chipotle is indeed part of the "fast casual" movement. But, in my book, it's way above the fast food standard. Baja Fresh might be in the same ballpark as Chipotle, but comparing a Chipotle taco to one from Taco Bell is like comparing apples to Apple Jacks.

Chipotle is a revelation. It's fresh, not greasy, not deep fried, not reliant on easy-outs like carbs or salt, and tastes fantastic. And Chipotle Inc., by all appearances, is trying not to decimate our planet. Sure, maybe the interior of the burritos can sometimes be out of balance. But at $8.50, who's complaining?

In an attempt to quantify my obsession with Chipotle, I present to you...

A Chipotle-Lover's Index:

  • People on line at the Maiden Lane Chipotle in downtown Manhattan at 12:30 on a recent Friday: 46
  • Number of Chipotle employees serving that line: 7
  • Length of wait before ordering: 12 minutes 43 seconds
  • Time it takes to complete the order: 1 minute 46 seconds
  • Number of men waiting on line in suits overheard complaining that they're underpaid: 2
  • Number of Chipotle employees who appear ornery or disgruntled: 0
  • People on line at the Pret A Manger across the street on Maiden Lane: 3
  • First Chipotle opened: 1993
  • Amount of money founder/CEO Steve Ells' father invested in Chipotle after first three restaurants had opened: $1.5 million
  • Ells' stock and compensation for 2010: $14 million
  • Number of locations in 2000: 104
  • Number of locations today: About 1,200
  • Number of employees today: 30,000
  • Total annual revenue, ending Sept. 30: $2.2 billion
  • Estimated percentage of antibiotics sold in the U.S. being fed to animals on factory farms for purposes other than treating diseases: 70%
  • Percentage of pigs raised in confinement in the U.S.: 95% (at least)
  • Pounds of antibiotics used to keep "confinement" pigs from getting sick in the USA: over 10 million
  • Percentage of Chipotle pigs raised on regular antibiotics: 0%
  • Percentage of cilantro served at Chipotle that's organic: 100%
  • Pounds of avocados that Chipotle uses in an average day: 97,000
  • Amount of local produce served at Chipotle in 2010: More than 5 million pounds
  • Amount of local produce served at Chipotle in 2011: More than 10 million pounds
  • Chipotle's definition of local: a farm that's within 350 miles of the restaurant
  • Percentage of Chipotle chickens raised without antibiotics: about 80% in 2011
  • Percentage of Chipotle cows raised in a "natural" environment: 85%
  • Percentage of black and pinto beans that are organic: 40% (as of 2008)
  • Increase in the Earth's methane concentration, a significant greenhouse gas, since 1750: 150%
  • Percentage of global methane attributed to livestock: 20%
  • Orifice from which close to 95% of methane is released: mouth
  • Percentage of methane in a human fart: < 10% 

  • Pounds of jalapeño peppers that it takes to get one pound of actual chipotles: 10
  • Food items served at Chipotle actually seasoned with chipotle: the grilled chicken and steak (they're marinated in a chipotle adobo rub); the beans.
  • Celebrity alleged on Twitter to be eating at Chipotle but probably wasn't: The Dalai Lama
  • Person who tweeted that misinformation: Conan O'Brien
  • Celebrities who actually have eaten at Chipotle: Kim Kardashian, Will Smith