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McDonalds is a Blood-Sucking Parasite on the Ass of the Planet

by: Jill Richardson

Tue Aug 03, 2010 at 15:45:18 PM PDT

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Well how's this. Now McDonalds is claiming that its local. Now, if you go to that link, you'll see the particular ad (claiming that the French fries are made from local potatoes) is located in the Seattle neighborhood of Ballard, a neighborhood I've visited. And I'd like to think that Ballard residents are smarter than that, given that they've got a kickass farmers' market, a restaurant with a roof garden, and a really awesome group called Sustainable Ballard. Sounds like a bunch of French fry eating, drive thru shopping McDonald's customers, huh?

That particular McDonald's campaign seems to be confined to a small area, but around here I've noticed an awful lot of heavy advertising. Some of it is the same old, obnoxious stuff, like a picture of an egg next to an Egg McMuffin that says "Breakfast... Out of its shell." And what's up with their ridiculous coffee ads. The ads near me say that if coffee is Joe, consider McDonald's coffee Joseph. Umm... I'd probably consider it right on par with Nescafe, which I will not drink. But then I went to Los Angeles and noticed two new trends.

First, free wifi at McDonalds. Which kind of cracks me up to imagine a businessperson in a suit sitting in plastic swivel chairs using a laptop while eating greasy fries and slurping a triple thick shake through a straw. I didn't think it would happen. Someone told me that I was wrong. I haven't set foot in a McDonalds in years, but apparently, it's a popular place to use wifi.

Second, "right-sized" meals. This is a trend that allows you to pay more (per calorie, per ounce, etc) to get a smaller portion of the same junk and then presumably feel less guilty about eating it. Of course it's still rotten for you, but you just ate less of it... and got ripped off in the process. It offers would-be health foodies a happy medium between eating no McDonalds at all and ordering a supersized double cheeseburger value meal.

Honestly, McDonald's recent marketing campaigns most reminds me of the flu's ability to adapt each year, outwitting the previous year's vaccines and all of the people who have evolved immunity to prior strains of the disease. Recently, a Jack in the Box exec told me that their target market was young adults whereas McDonald's target market is everybody, more or less from cradle to grave. Clearly, McDonald's has its eye on every single trend in the entire food industry and they are trying it all to see what works.

Thank goodness CSPI is threatening to sue them if they keep giving toys to kids (my biggest gripe about McDonalds) and even Jamba Juice is making fun of McDonalds for selling fruit smoothies (smoothies that have more calories than their cheeseburgers, by the way).

Jill Richardson :: McDonalds is a Blood-Sucking Parasite on the Ass of the Planet
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Eat "local" ice cream... (0.00 / 0)
Heh, I just noticed the other day that a Baskin-Robbins chain location in my neighborhood on SE Powell & 41st has a sign outside that says "Eat Local Ice Cream!"

I'll take their advice.  I don't eat ice cream, but if I did I surely would eat local ice cream.  Like, say, from Cool Moon or Swirl or Mio Gelato or or or...


Baskin-Robbins?  gtf outta here...

And yes, Ballard rules!  My mother and my niece and I ate there last time they were here.  We got lost looking for the restaurant, so I had plenty of time to admire the 'hood!

How about if that particular Baskin Robbins (0.00 / 0)
could prove that it was making its icecream from Alpenrose milk and produced in icecream freezers at that store's location. Would you consider that local? Or would you disregard the store because it was part of a national chain?

Normal people scare me.... But not as much as I scare them.

[ Parent ]
No, I wouldn't. (0.00 / 0)
one - because they don't.

two - because they're a global chain sucking the economic life out of my neighborhood and our region and every other place in the world they operate

three - because when even decisions about their store design and signage and cups, etc, aren't done locally, that kinda precludes them from ever being considered so in any way

[ Parent ]
Too cool (0.00 / 0)
so even when they're doing actual local production they're not local. What a hypocrite you are Jay.

Normal people scare me.... But not as much as I scare them.

[ Parent ]
Lol... (0.00 / 0)
Yeah okay whatever.  Namecalling is always nice...

[ Parent ]
With no... (0.00 / 0)
With no basis in fact either, mind you, but that's okay.

[ Parent ]
Think on this Jay - (0.00 / 0)
One of the great pillars of the locavore movement is to source locally. You indicated in your response to my question that even if a company sourced the raw ingredients and produced the finished product locally, that it wouldn't be a local product. That's why I call you a hypocrite. Even when it's local it's not local with you if it isn't produced by some elite business. That's bullshit.

Consider this as well, that Baskin Robbins ice cream shop you cited may very well be owned by a local business person. The company does franchise. Of course, I suppose even then it wouldn't be local as far as you're concerned. Again, bullshit.

Normal people scare me.... But not as much as I scare them.

[ Parent ]
Elite business? (0.00 / 0)
I'm not the one defending elite businesses (i.e. - global corporations) here, Jo.  Unless you think the places I named above, tiny locally-owned and operated ice cream and yogurt shops in Portland, are part of a global conspiracy to dump on a poor little Carlyle Group-owned (wanna talk about elites?) global franchise worth billions of dollars.

[ Parent ]
one question I might ask (4.00 / 2)
is whether even the hypothetical makes any sense...I bet all these chains buy in huge volume through other huge corporations, and such corporations notably do not tend to do business with small producers. They prefer other large corporations for reasons having to do with issues involving potential supply fluctuations.

Anyway, I think I'm on your side with this one, Jay. Even if they did buy locally, they'd be driving out local businesses that weren't chains, that could be buying the same products locally.

Now, if the local businesses weren't buying locally, and the chain was, that would be a more complicated ethical equation.  

"If God were to appear to starving people, he would not dare to appear in any other form than food." - Mahatma Gandhi

[ Parent ]
Yes... (4.00 / 1)
And let's also not forget that franchising is not a local investment either, assuming another hypothetical.

[ Parent ]
Elite isn't necessarily big or small (0.00 / 0)
elite is in the eye of the beholder. In the local food movement, what I see quite often is that small businessea are held up and placed on a pedestal, simply because they're small. Just as other segments of society place the big companies up on a pedestal and give them elite status.

I think that in large part this is because it's automatically assumed that small companies are sourcing from other small companies and/or locally. I gaurantee you that the local ice cream and yogurt shops in Portland are not sourcing a lot of, probably even most of their ingredients locally or from small producers. Especially if they're doing a high rate of business. Where are they getting their sugar from? How about the vanilla, chocolate, and other flavorings? Where's the sprinkles coming from?

Those food carts that are so prevailent in Portland, where are they getting their meat, vegetables, etc.? I would bet that a lot of them are sourcing from the wholesale suppliers, and some of that produce and meat may be local, or maybe it isn't (Sysco, one of the biggest restaurant and catering suppliers, does do some local sourcing due to increased demand from their clients). That's the primary way companies keep their prices low. There is a wonderful hispanic foods truck out here in Molalla (I say hispanic because I don't know if the people running it are from Mexico or a central or south american country originally). They serve beef tongue, I doubt they are buying it from a local beef rancher. For something like goat, a person might be sourcing locally, and a food cart could probably do little enough business in that particular product that they could very well have a local supplier. But for many other things like beef, I doubt that, unless they're buying from a coop like Country Natural Beef, that they are buying locally produced beef.

The hotdog stand down at the Home Depot in Oregon City has the best hotdogs. The ones they used to carry were from Zenners Sausage Company. Cool, local producer (in NW Portland), been around since 1927. Zenners may be local, but I doubt that they are sourcing their beef, pork or lamb locally. I doubt that there is sufficient production in this area to supply them, at least not to supply them 100%. So, now, is that a local product? Does it have to be produced with locally sourced ingredients to make it local? If not, and the ingredients only have to be processed locally into their final form to be local, is Baskin Robbins making local ice cream if they freeze the mix there at the shop, or if the ice cream is frozen at a plant within 100 miles of Portland and trucked into the shop in Portland? How about the famous Lays 'local' potato chip flap. If Lays was processing the potatoes in Portland, and cooking, packaging, distributing them in Portland, are they local potato chips? How about Resers (fantastic potato salad and salsa). I doubt that their ingredients are grown within 100 miles, or even 400 miles of Portland. But the plant is either in Portland or near Portland. Is that a local product? Resers is a pretty big company. Should they be shunned because they're big and sourcing some percentage of their product non-locally? Even though they're a local company and have been around here forever?

Another question - as per my example of Sysco cited above and per Miep's question of large corporations doing business and not sourcing from small local producers, even if a small food business, say in Portland, were sourcing local produce and meats through a company like Sysco, would their foods not be 'local', or should they be shunned, simply because they sourced from Sysco or some other big supplier as opposed to a smaller wholesaler or the farm itself?

Normal people scare me.... But not as much as I scare them.

[ Parent ]
I have to agree with him (4.00 / 2)
if you are devoting ONE store out of thousands to local food and then using that as an advertisement to attract locavores to your entire chain, you don't count as local.

Also, if you're a national chain and you source one trivial item locally from a huge industrial yucky operation, you fail.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
Well, I don't know (0.00 / 0)
are you talking about the McDonald's store that was advertising local or are you talking about my hypothetical Baskin-Robbins store?

I've seen the story about the McDonalds store in Washington state that was advertising local, but aside from a few citations of the one newspaper article I've seen, that's all I've seen of McDonalds 'local' food, and if it weren't for the food/politics blogs, including yours, I wouldn't have heard about it at all. I haven't seen any of the McDonalds in my area advertising local foods. None.

As far as parabens in ice cream, that's not germain to my hypothetical Baskin-Robbins store. My question to Jay was if the milk/cream were to be sourced locally and the ice cream to be frozen onsite at the store, if that would be local. His answer was no. That's what I was calling bullshit on. If the raw ingredients were sourced locally, and I'm talking about the milk/cream, not flavorings or sugar (if we included those, then no ice cream, gellato, sorbets or any other food using sugar could ever be considered local even if it was produced by some local shop on premises), and then the finished product was produced in the store, then as far as I'm concerned it's local.

I say this because some of our chain stores source fruits and vegetables locally in season. Under Jay's premise, corn sold in Canby couldn't be validly called local even if it was grown in a field 5 miles from the local Fred Meyer that was selling it because it was being sold in a mega chain store owned by the Kroger Corporation.

Normal people scare me.... But not as much as I scare them.

[ Parent ]
I don't buy ice cream (4.00 / 1)
from stores that put parabens in their ice cream. Honestly, if I won't buy bath products with parabens because I don't want them on my skin or hair, why on earth would I EAT them?

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
Taco Bell... (0.00 / 0)
Btw, somewhat related - I don't know if you saw, but Taco Bell's now gone nationwide with their version of real street tacos (2 corn tortillas, meat filling, onions and cilantro), trying to score 'authenticity' points, I guess.

Only thing that surprises me about it is that it took them this long to do so.

Something tells me they're gonna be a failure mainly because of how Taco Bell originally disgraced the taco, themselves...

So what were they using before? (0.00 / 0)
fake onions, meat and tortillas? The only difference I see in the ingredients you mentioned is cilantro. And by the way, just what consitutes 'authentic'? Taco Bell is americanized mexican food. It's geared toward the general american pallet, not toward a regional pallet of any kind, be it american, mexican, etc. That's one reason why it tastes like it does, it has to appeal to a huge range of pallets that originated from a broad range of countries.

Normal people scare me.... But not as much as I scare them.

[ Parent ]
Here... (0.00 / 0)
This is what they've been doing.

This is what they're trying to do now.

Quite a difference, as anybody can see.  Taco Bell also used ground beef in their old tacos, whereas street tacos use meats such as carnitas, offal, carne asada, al pastor, barbacoa, deshebrada, anything but ground beef.  And the other difference between street tacos and taco bell's original 'tacos' are the extraneous filler ingredients like lettuce, cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, etc, which do not appear in street tacos.

They're two completely different things, as five seconds of googling could have taught you.  But don't ever admit you're wrong, just go ahead and attack me on some other point now.  I'm finished here, really. There's no point in going on with you anymore.  I don't understand why or how every single thing I say always gets you so riled up, but whatever.

[ Parent ]
And one final point... (0.00 / 0)
I simply pointed out what they were doing, I made no editorial comment whatsoever on either product besides to point out that Taco Bell's customers probably aren't going to go for this.  It's in the spirit of the diary, as Jill mentioned other things (like wifi) that McDonald's, another prolific qsr, is also doing these days to try to bring in more people.

[ Parent ]
This (0.00 / 0)
Taco Bell originally disgraced the taco, themselves...

Sounds kind of editorialish....

Is that second pic from a food cart or is it from Taco Bell? If it's from a food cart and it's an example of what Taco Bell is intending to produce (I'm assuming that if they are trying to do something then they intend to do that), then I would think that you'd be saying 'good on ya for finally doing a good thing'.

Just like if some McDonalds restaurants were to source products from local producers, I'd say 'good on ya', not beat them up over it.

Normal people scare me.... But not as much as I scare them.

[ Parent ]
Under the Federal definition of local (4.00 / 1)
these ad's are technically correct.  The product was grown and processed In-State.

This is the law of unintended consequences at it's finest. USDA worked to help support small local farmers by creating a definition of Local, 300 mile radius or In-State, and marketing whores from corporations took advantage of the little noticed definition, to sell more fries.

I've seen Local used to sell almost everything lately, it's the flavor of the month for the marketing crowd, these people have no real values, they would use the word Pedophile, if it sold more crap.

However these ads would make a great test case for the Federal Trade Commission, which is charged with reducing consumer confusion in the market place.  No law has to be broken, to file a complaint with the FTC.  

Do you have a link to the definition? (0.00 / 0)
I'd like to take a look at it, I didn't know that they had defined yet. I've read something from USDA, can't find the document right at the moment, that described (not a legal definition) local as up to 400 miles away.

I know that there was some discussion about local and regional in the past couple years, I think during the debate over COOL, and had to do with marketing and local/regional sourcing.

Normal people scare me.... But not as much as I scare them.

[ Parent ]
It's in the new Rural Development language (0.00 / 0)
I just moved cross country, back to CA, so I can't find the link just now.

[ Parent ]
Thanks, I'll look for it (0.00 / 0)
Are you farming in CA?

Normal people scare me.... But not as much as I scare them.

[ Parent ]
Yikes! I'm 691 miles away from Brawley California (4.00 / 2)
which is in the Imperial Valley and produces all those summer crops in the spring. So that's why my 'local' Safeway can claim their truck-ripened May tomatoes and melons are 'local'.  

[ Parent ]
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