The organic label has been around in the USA since 1973, and early proponents swore the standard would grow rapidly. While their timing was off, predictions of organic pioneers finally started paying off over the last decade as more consumers sought organic products both for their health and for the environment. Organic farmers now command higher prices for produce and meat than their conventional counterparts, and the supply is becoming large enough to make retail costs affordable for the average consumer. Additionally, several restaurant chains have started offering organic items on the menu. Depending on where you live, it may even be possible to indulge in fast food without compromising on your organic principles. If consumers keep coming back to the following options, growth will continue.
Whole Foods To-Go
With stores in most continental states and Canada, Whole Foods has been providing customers with an organic version of the familiar Chinese take-out buffet. A favorite for corporate lunch breaks, gourmet recipes using organic and otherwise healthy ingredients are sold by weight in convenient to-go containers. Meals may include deli sandwiches, pizza, burgers, or sushi, among others. Most stores also feature a dining area. The food is priced favorably compared to the costs of purchasing and preparing ingredients yourself, and Whole Foods justifies it as a method of advertising the many possible uses of its grocery products.
Chipotle Mexican Grill
For a prepared-to-order option, over 800 Chipotle restaurants nationwide make heavy use of organic meats, dairy, and beans. This burrito chain is constantly planning further expansion of its organic purchases due to consumer demand. Though not your typical drive-thru, Chipotle offers fast service, and you get to see your food being prepared. With health-conscious consumers this is a big deal. Even if McDonald's were to adopt an organic menu tomorrow, lack of transparency and poor reputation would keep many health-conscious consumers away.
Organic to Go
With restaurants in Washington state, Washington DC, Virginia, and California, this chain has been steadily purchasing more fast-food establishments for conversion to organic menus. And that's only half the story. Organic to Go is also heavily involved in corporate and university catering, including locations at California State, University of Colorado, and Vanderbilt. Smoothies, soups, salads, pastas, and sandwiches top their menu, boasting an impressive array of healthy options. The butternut squash soup is especially a must-try.
If organic pizza and green living are two of your favorite terms, then Pizza Fusion is a great option. Menu items include vegan pizzas, Greek, BBQ chicken, and even a Farmers Market pizza, all nestled alongside traditional offerings like pepperoni. Current locations include Pittsburgh, Houston, Las Vegas, Naperville, Cleveland, Charlotte and many cities throughout Florida. Pizza Fusion's commitment to an organic lifestyle does not stop at its menu. Rather, hybrid delivery cars, LEED-certified buildings, happy and committed workers, and a desire to use the best organic, locally grown produce makes it easy to understand the rapid expansion of the Pizza Fusion franchise.
With restaurants in Maine and Massachusetts, and more on the way, O'Naturals is last but not least on this by no means comprehensive list of fast-food options. They source a third of all ingredients from organic producers. They likewise work to purchase the freshest produce locally. For a fast and healthy organic roast beef sandwich or TMB (tomato, mozzarella, basil) on fresh-baked bread, there is no better place.
The popularity of eating healthy has grown rapidly in the past decade, and fast-food options have been slow to meet demand. Surging growth in recent years still means most Americans will have organic and fast food choices available to them by the end of the decade.