In a continued effort to change its image as a junk food haven, McDonald’s has been making moves recently to boost their slumping sales by offering healthier ingredient options, like egg whites and Mandarin oranges, and has launched a transparency campaign called “Our Food, Your Questions.”
Obviously, McDonald’s is responding to the emerging concerns about where food comes from, and what it does to our bodies. This past week alone, headlines speak to the growth of a marketplace supported by health- and food-conscious eaters. These “eaters” are now well-aware of studies linking red meat consumption to breast cancer risks, identifying more negative effects of artificial sweeteners, and uncovering potential mechanisms for deforestation in the Amazon due to cattle ranching.
Skeptics are...well...skeptical. Naomi Starkman of Civil Eats wonders if McDonald’s will be able to attract this millennial crowd by just explaining the origins of its food because...
Until now, what happens behind the curtain at McDonald’s has been invisible to most of us. But because the company’s supply chain is so long, and it sources raw ingredients from such a wide array of locations and facilities, it would be impossible for any one tour, vignette, or infographic to show more than a sliver of what goes on at the farm, factory, and processing levels."
And while it’s angling for the farm-to-table crowd, as the world’s largest buyer of beef and pork with hamburgers for as low as one dollar, McDonald’s current practices will probably still be considered factory-farm-to-table.
Starkman explains that while McDonald’s has made some important efforts towards sustainability—like moving away from gestation crates for their pork, and committing to making their beef “sustainable,”—its antiquated and entrenched practices of upholding the status quo in mass food production are really only highlighted by their attempts at transparency;
From food safety scandals to the serious public health impacts of eating fast food, consumers increasingly want truth, trust, and transparency in their food. But transparency demands responsibility and is toothless on its own. Today’s eaters want to see where their food comes from so they can make informed choices and also advocate for change.’
It is important to recognize that companies, like people, can actually change and make better choices. If McDonald’s, as one of the world’s largest purveyors of raw materials, were to make real and substantive changes, it could truly make a difference in the way the world eats. It remains to be seen if “Our Food, Your Questions” will engage more customers or simply raise more questions, but if you take a few moments to explore the issue via the links below, you’ll be as up-to-date as any Wellness Warrior out there!
How McDonald’s Could Serve Up a Happier Meal via Civil Eats
Our Food. Your Questions. via McDonalds.com
Red meat consumption and breast cancer risk via Harvard School of Public Health
Less Red Meat for Less Breast Cancer via Dr. Weil
The sour side of artificial sweeteners via Science News