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Chipotle is breaking from the fast-food model once again.

The Denver-based chain known for its hefty burritos is pledging to use a set amount of local produce at each of its more than 730 restaurants around the country - when produce is in season.

This summer, Chipotle is purchasing 25 percent of at least one produce item for each of its stores from small and midsize farms located within about 200 miles. Those purchases could include lettuce, onions and peppers.

Fine-dining chefs have long sought ingredients from nearby farmers, but Chipotle is moving that philosophy to a growing quick-service chain.

"It's going to open up the practice of knowing where food comes from to a wider variety of people," said Kate Evanishyn, of Slow Food USA, which believes in food production that treats the environment, animals, human health and workers well.

"Ultimately this is changing the way the world thinks about and eats fast food," said founder, chairman and CEO Steve Ells.

Ells, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, said it's about getting the best-tasting food. The program marks an extension of the "Food With Integrity" slogan for the chain, which serves naturally raised pork and chicken companywide.

Finding the right suppliers, though, has been a challenge.

Daniels said Chipotle has 30 to 50 farms on its list so far.

"It's not an easy project but very worthwhile," Ells said.
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