Earlier this week, a seemingly improbable partnership between Slow Food USA and Chipotle was announced at the New York Chipotle Test Kitchen amidst seared scallops in cold-pressed apple juice, beef tartare and margaritas. But if you look closely at Chipotle’s recent track record, the announcement is less and less surprising. You might remember the brilliant yet gut-wrenching factory farm animation set to a Willie Nelson cover of Coldplay’s “Back to the Start” that managed to simultaneously make you hurt for the pastoral ideal, rediscover your nostalgic love of Coldplay and crave a burrito bowl. Chipotle has also surprised fast food naysayers by warning customers when their meat is conventionally grown with clear, visible signage.
The partnership will help fund school garden initiatives in 10 cities over the next 15 months with a donation of almost $500,000 from Chipotle. Some of the money will go towards hiring full-time coordinators to oversee Slow Food’s National School Garden Program, which will help integrate and connect Slow Food USA’s massive pre-existing network of volunteers working on school gardens across the nation.
Slow Food’s Garden Program differs from other initiatives because it focuses on learning through tasting and places as much emphasis on eating as on gardening says Andrew Nowak, the director of the program. The idea behind this is that by connecting kids first and foremost to their palates, the nutritional and environmental benefits of gardening and eating sustainably will naturally follow. For more information, visit the program’s new website, which also launched this week. For a more in-depth analysis of this partnership, check out this write-up from Inside Scoop SF.