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Shake Shack Continues U.S. Expansion; Chipotle May No Longer Buy Local Produce

Five things you need to know today.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

It's Thursday, December 3, which means Hanukkah is right around the corner and there's a mere three weeks left to finish your Christmas shopping. You likely blew all your money on Cyber Monday purchases for yourself, however, so instead let's focus on today's food and restaurant news: As Shake Shack continues to expand its Shack Sauce-slathered footprint across America, Chipotle may have to reneg on its "buy local" pledge and new vegan meal delivery empresario Mark Bittman is having ethical sourcing woes. Oh yeah, and bananas might go extinct thanks to a nasty fungus. Let's get to it:


Shake Shack Continues Its Quest for World Domination

Shake Shack

Insanely popular burger chain Shake Shack continues to expand: The burgermeisters just announced plans to open a location in Darien, Conn. (its third in the state) as well as one in Lexington, Ky. The latter will be the first Shake Shack for Kentucky and is headed to a new walkable development called The Summit at Fritz Farm that will also be home to the region's first food hall.

Image credit: Shake Shack/Flickr


Is Chipotle Abandoning Its 'Buy Local' Pledge?


Chipotle has long touted its mission to use local produce suppliers whenever possible, but that may be in jeopardy thanks to the burrito chain's recent E. coli and listeria outbreaks. The company is now tightening up its requirements for suppliers in the interest of food safety, and says it's uncertain whether or not current local suppliers will be able to meet its new guidelines.

Image credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr


Are Bananas Doomed to Become Extinct?

Banana Flickr

Another day, another doomsday food prediction: Thanks to a nasty fungus, the world's banana crop could potentially be wiped out within a few decades. A new study reveals the Cavendish banana, which makes up virtually 100 percent of the world's banana supply, is susceptible to a fast-spreading fungal pathogen it was previously believed to be immune to. Said fungus has already wiped out numerous other banana varieties, and now scientists believe the infection is likely to spread to South America — where more than 82 percent of Cavendish bananas are grown.

Image credit: keepon/Flickr


Thousands of Food Products Will Soon Have Scannable 'Smart Labels'

Nutrition Label/Flickr

The labeling on tens of thousands of packaged foods is about to get a little smarter. Come 2015, 30,000 products including sodas and snacks will get new scannable codes on their packaging intended to provide consumers with data on ingredients, allergens, and nutrition. The so-called "Smart Labels" could also include information on whether or not a product contains GMOs. While the FDA does not currently require genetically modified foods to be labeled, a vast majority of consumers believe label disclosure ought to be mandatory.

Image credit: Don Domme/Flickr


Ethical Sourcing Ain't Easy, Says Mark Bittman

Mark Bittman

Long-time food columnist Mark Bittman left his post at the New York Times earlier this year to join plant-based meal delivery startup Purple Carrot, and his new venture has come along with its fair share of challenges. The biggest one so far? Ethical sourcing of ingredients. Bittman notes that more than half of the fresh produce in the U.S. currently comes from foreign markets, and "neither the USDA nor any other agency makes any attempt to control labor practices outside of this country." For the time being, the company will focus on sourcing domestic produce, with a long-term goal of "sourcing food from agro-ecological farmers who care about their land and what they grow on it."

Image credit: Romulo Yanes