The start of a new year always brings with it a commitment (whether temporary or permanent) to a healthier lifestyle. As disease rates grow, so does the American consciousness about our food supply. We aren’t just interested in what the nutrition facts on the packaging says, but also where the food comes from, how processed it is, which pesticides or chemicals may be on or in the meal, and which foods are increasingly causing food allergies. And in the spirit of healthy choices for a new year, January marks the launch of the McDonald's corporation’s latest television ads. That is, McDonald's has begun airing advertisements to convince consumers that its burgers, fries, and other menu offerings are natural, local, and grown on small farms. McDonalds is trying to cash in on the slow food trend.
The ads highlight different farmers, showing off their “small family farms,” followed by a clip of the farmer enjoying McDonald's food as if they were reveling in the fruits of their labor. One ad features Frank Martinez, a potato farmer, biting into a raw potato (yuck), saying, "They're good now. Just wait until they're McDonald's fries." The ad makes sure to play up Martinez's Hispanic immigrant heritage and family-farm history. Other ads slated for TV include cattle ranchers and lettuce farmers.
McDonald’s actually has no connection with the farmers highlighted in these ads (except perhaps, in the creation of the ad campaign itself). While McDonald's would like to persuade viewers that it knows each farmer and his product by name, McDonald's actually sources their meat and/or produce through middlemen corporations like Cargill, Lopez Foods, Golden State Foods, Simplot who contract with such farmers. Not to mention, many of McDonald's menu items aren’t even whole-food products. Its “100% Angus Beef Patty,” for example, isn’t a mixture of ground beef and spices, as one may assume. Instead, it’s a mashed up mixture of artificial flavors, maltodextrin, beef broth, yeast extract, dried beef extract, caramel coloring, corn syrup, calcium silicate, lactic acid, and other ingredients. It’s also thought that, due to processing, one burger could potentially contain meat from several thousands of animals. In the same vein, McDonald's french fry ingredients cite milk and wheat as allergens. This isn’t slow food. And those extracts and additives certainly aren’t natural or local.
Watch the first ad from the campaign here:
Liz Schau is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor who specializes in nutritional changes for women with thyroid disease, food allergies, autoimmunity, and digestive health concerns. You can find her at LizSchau.com.