Did you know this? I didn't know this! This is the second time I've run headlong into the fact that the United Kingdom is a lot better about advocating for better quality food than we are here in the United States.
The Daily Mail has a typically tawdry article about the source of McDonald's chicken in Britain. The author is all up in arms about how it comes from massive factory farms in South America. Which I agree is a bad thing.
But when I was reading, if it had been a movie trailer, there would have been a "record scratch" sound effect when I read "The beef they use is sourced entirely from British and Irish farms, the eggs free-range, the milk organic and the coffee beans Rainforest Alliance-certified."
Now I don't have a television, and there aren't any McDonald's ads on Hulu. (More's the pity, since Hulu could definitely use the cash, but I digress.) So I thought, maybe I've missed something. Maybe this is true for the US McDonaldses as well. Maybe there has been a massive ad campaign that I have been fortunate enough to have avoided completely. It wouldn't be the first time!
When I hit the McDonalds website, it identified me as an American automatically. I was directed to a page which was dominated by an ad for the Angus Third Pounder cheeseburger. "OPEN REALLY WIDE," the site said. Which only cemented my suspicion that in the UK they want decent food, whereas in the US we just want big cheap food.
Unfortunately when I tried to dig father and follow links to "Your Questions Answered" or "Meet Our Suppliers," the website was down and all I got was 503 error pages. It's hard not to read a conspiracy into that, but I shall do my best.
I did learn that the board of directors recently scuttled a proposal by the Humane Society that McDonalds obtain 5% of its eggs from cage-free farms. Although McDonalds has "committed to going 100 percent cage-free by the end of 2010 for all its European operations," that will not be the case here in the States, where 100% of their eggs are - and will continue to be - from battery cages.
A similar story with their coffee. Although McDonalds uses only Rainforest Alliance-certified coffee in the UK and Australia, that is not the case here in America. They just use regular old coffee, even though their suppliers do carry Rainforest Alliance-certified beans.
And the meat, as anyone who's read "Fast Food Nation" knows, is pretty much the worst of the worst, ethically speaking.
So how come they're so awesome everywhere else? Because consumers in those countries demanded it. The Daily Mail mentions that McDonalds only went free-range/organic/fair trade in order to combat slumping sales.
The lesson here is clear: if you care about your health, and the health of the planet, vote with your dollars! It really does work, as UK McDonalds customers can attest.
Creative Commons-licensed image courtesy of Flickr user Farm Sanctuary