In 2007, McDonalds announced that all milk sold at their 1,200 stores in the UK would come from organic, local cows. So far they have sold over 8.6 million liters each year and this makes McDonald’s the leading buyer of milk in the UK industry.
This is not an isolated situation, as there have been dramatic shift in marketing, healthier menu options and a new ‘green’ philosophy emerging in restaurants worldwide. McDonald’s has even coined itself as an “environmental leader” for their actions to protect the globe’s natural resources. The thought of perhaps the largest contributor to emerging trends of obesity becoming a pioneer in health food options is be both terrifying and intriguing.
With 47 million customers a day at 31,000 stores in over 199 countries, McDonald’s has the attention and the appetites of the masses. With large sponsorship deals, celebrity endorsements and catchy jingles, McDonald’s has an influence on all of our lives and is heavily integrated into our conception of popular culture. The power behind the corporation makes me wonder about the utopian-like idea of a “McOrganic” future:
Could McDonald’s actually achieve their ideal of becoming a leader in environmental and organic food issues?
Would the company be able to shape public consciousness and set a precedent for other restaurants worldwide?
So far, I am feeling skeptical about the idea and am not really “loving it.” I fear that even a dramatic change in the company’s philosophy lacks sincerity and may simply be creating an illusion of good practice.
Nonetheless, one aspect that I see as positive and inspiring is that McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurants alike are making healthier food choices available by choosing local, organic and fresh produce. This isn’t just an altruistic choice but a response to a bold consumer demand (the same consumer demand resulted in McDonalds asking Monsanto to stop its GMO potatoes back in 2000). Using organic milk has likely resulted in hundreds of acres of pasture and dairy operations going organic, reducing their chemical fertilizers and antibiotic usage, and increasing humane animal husbandry. This is a victory for the UK’s consumers.
Now, if only consumer demand for organics was that strong in Canada, so that we could enjoy organic milk and the environmental benefits too!
-Mayme Lefurgey, ACORN Student Intern