In praise of McDonald’s

JUST finished a Big Mac meal (and yes, I did go large). Ronnie and Reggie had their traditional Happy Meals with chicken nuggets and strawberry shakes while Carolyn had some or other vegetarian thing.

Don’t get me wrong – this is not a daily, or even weekly occurrence. Everything in moderation, and all that. But the boys do love their “happy food” as they call it. And so do I.

So why do so many people hate McDonald’s? As far as I can see, they sell extremely tasty food at reasonable prices, they provide an activity and a venue that is decidedly family-friendly. More importantly, they provide employment for many people, particularly the young. And if you can get past the “McJob” snobbery that’s prevalent today, it might be recognised that McDonald’s, in many communities, are an important employer. More to the point, if McDonald’s were not there, those communities would be worse off.

The same is, of course, true for many fast food outlets which provide vital jobs particularly for young people, whether long or short term, and provide a popular service at the same time. The more people who can gain an understanding that “service sector” need not necessarily mean “second best”, the better.

My only complaint is that here in Britain, the definition of “fast”, as in “fast food”, can too often be used with scant regard to the strict dictionary definition. And it can be a tad frustrating when the person serving you responds to your request for anything vegetarian with a look of utter bewilderment.

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50 Comments

Filed under Economy, Family life

50 responses to “In praise of McDonald’s

  1. Mike

    they represent the mass killing of sentient creatures, the rearing of which contributes hugely to global warming.
    Also, why does a sentient creature that rears its young,forms social groups etc deserve to end up with its throat cut so you can eat it?

  2. Mike

    In the U.K., McDonald’s claims to use eggs from “free-range” hens. Yet, Channel 4’s Countryside program showed “free-range” birds being debeaked with a hot wire, crowded so tightly in airless sheds that they are too frightened to venture out onto the tiny patch of poisoned land outside their sheds and denied all natural pleasures, such as dust baths, mothering their young and simply stretching a wing in the sun. In the U.S., McDonald’s has refused to phase out cages.

    From misery to McNugget: These gentle birds endure constant fear and pain for McDonald’s customers.

    Perhaps Labour MPs could set a better example?

  3. Liz

    Even taking into account everything you say, and I can’t disagree with it, the longer-term effect on communities does worry me. The nearest McDonald’s to me was built on the site of a local pub (which was admittedly a bit of a dive), and quickly closed down two (pretty good) nearby community-run caffs which couldn’t compete with the prices; so instead of three places to socialise, people of any age only have McDonald’s. Tesco has had the same effect in other parts of town. I realise people have the option of continuing to buy more expensive goods, or goods which are perceived as being more expensive, but in many cases drive-thrus and hypermarkets are put in poorer areas of town where people’s budgets are more stretched, and the natural instinct is to use the cheaper option without taking account of what will happen to the general atmosphere of the area if the nearby small shops or cafés close.

  4. Auntie Flo'

    I don’t eat meat because I cannot bear the dreadfully cruel practices involved in factory farming, so I totally agree with Liz and Mike on this.

    How can meat from animals raised in such dreadful conditions be good for you?

    And as Liz has pointed out, companies like Macdonalds are damaging our communities.

    As a government minister you should be setting an example, not encouraging these backward practices.

  5. Flo – are you suggesting that all government ministers should be vegetarian?

  6. John

    It seems your family can’t enjoy the occassional Mac without being criticised.
    Oh, I forgot, we aren’t meant to be happy and enjoy life these days.

  7. Mike

    ‘are you suggesting that all government ministers should be vegetarian?’

    that would be good yes, or at least not pander to obnoxious, steeped in cruelty outfits like MCcruelty

  8. James

    Perhaps you could purchase a copy of Todd Wilbur’s ‘Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2’ and make your own happy meals. This guy has cloned every recipe from MacDonalds to tomato ketchup and they reckon they taste superior tothe originals. This way you could source your own ingredients and maybe keep everyone happy, or maybe not.

  9. Auntie Flo'

    No, I’m not suggesting all government ministers should give up being carnivores and become vegetarian – unless they want to, of course.

    Though vegetarianism is the most energy efficient and least planet damaging form of food consumption.

    And one of our greatest politicians and parliamentarians, Tony Benn, is a vegetarian. I so admire TB, what a lovely man he is.

    And hasn’t factory farming been implicated in the poor methods of animal husbandry and livestick feeding practices which put sick and substandard meat into the food chain – and may even be implicated in the advent of new diseases?

    Anyway, What I’m suggesting is that government ministers should not encourage cruel factory farming by patronising it.

    I’m also suggesting that government ministers should not act like Gordon Brown who had the all fired nerve and hypocrisy to lecture us all on cutting down our our food waste while flying to the most disgustingly decadent food waste fest at G8.

    Ministers should lead ethical lives and should lead by example.

  10. Auntie Flo'

    Excellent idea, James. Then Tom could try making vegetarian chicken nuggets. My daughter and I have a vegetarian chicken joint with all the trimmings at Christmas and you really wouldn’t kn0w the difference

  11. Andrew F

    The snobbery about McDs is pathetic.

    I’ll confess I love the taste, love the prices, and love the fact that when starving from crap food in Poland this week, my friends and I were able to pop under the yellow arches and quickly grab something that we all knew would be 1. Hot. 2. Edible. Globalisation isn’t all bad, eh?

  12. Martin Cullip

    “And one of our greatest politicians and parliamentarians, Tony Benn, is a vegetarian. I so admire TB, what a lovely man he is.”

    Wasn’t he once pipe-smoker of the year too, Auntie Flo? He’s not lovely at all! He’s quite simply evil I tell ya’. 😉

    By the way, I don’t think all MPs should be vegetarians, it would just be nice if some actually knew their onions … boom boom.

  13. wrinkled weasel

    Once in a while, why not? Sorry, I am new to this blog – Ronnie and Reggie?

    Others have pointed out that McDonalds supports cruelty to Chickens. I just mention this because I keep chickens. I know how they behave when allowed to roam free and live naturally. Whereas I know you cannot leave your home without irritating or offending somebody these days, I am not sure it is good practice to champion an organisation whose food is ultimately unhealthy and ethically questionable.

  14. wrinkled weasel – “champion” might be over-stating it a bit, but being aware that visiting McDonald’s isn’t politically correct certainly wouldn’t stop me from taking my kids there for a treat or, indeed, blogging about it. And McDonald’s have created jobs in my constituency, for which I’m grateful.

    I refer to my two youngest children by various labels (Ronnie and Reggie, Asbo and the Midwich Cuckoo) because I prefer not to identify them.

  15. commenter

    why does a sentient creature that rears its young,forms social groups etc deserve to end up with its throat cut so you can eat it?

    Because, in this crazy mixed up world of ours, some sentient creatures have evolved in such a way as to find other sentient creatures really tasty.

  16. Boyce

    I couldn’t give a f*** less about the social issues, vegetarians or the horrible Americanisms but the reason I don’t eat at McDonald’s is because the food universally tastes like s**t.

  17. Stu

    I prefer Burger King myself, but I dispute that it’s good food for cheap. Get yourself some onion, some minced beef, some breadcrumbs and some egg, stick it all in a bowl together, mash it all up with your fingers (get the kids to help) then form it into nice little burger shapes and fry for 3 or 4 minutes on each side. Tastier, cheaper and more fun than MacDonalds.

    And I suppose you could do a vegetarian version, if you were mad enough…

    Of course, you’re free to go to MacDonalds if you like – I wouldn’t pour scorn on you (God knows I’ve eaten there enough times in my teenage years). I just think there’s more fun and better food to be had at home.

  18. Bedd Gelert

    So do you endorse anti-union policies at companies like Starbucks, Borders, Wal-Mart as well ??

    I only ask as a polite enquiry…

  19. I agree with Tom, Mcdonalds gave me my first job and supported me through university. While I know they may not always act with perfect moral authority they still provide plenty of jobs and opportunities, they support many charities including the Ronald Mcdonald houses and children’s sports. They also provide the impetus for regenerating an area and can bring in money through construction. Mcdonalds are a business not a charity in some of teir dealings they cannot afford a conscience.

    PS Cows and Chickens are not sentient.

  20. Varlz

    I’m pleased to see a Labour MP talking sens for once and not pandering to the eco-maniac holier than thou lefty idiots who are terrified of upsetting anything at all, even a chicken.

    I am inclined to agree with said eco-maniacs that there is room for improvement in terms of the animal’s welfare.

  21. Of course you all realise that cows and vegetarians are the biggest source of greenhouse gases on the planet. Logically we should all stop eating. Think of the benefits – obesity cured at a stroke, global warming reversed, over-population solved, hyper-activity in children would be a thing of the past and crime levels slashed. The best of all possible worlds. Why haven’t we thought of it before?

  22. Rebel Saint

    Well said Tom. I love McDonald’s for all the same reasons you do. I also echo the sentiment of Andrew F (though for me it was Mexico City not Poland where the arches provided a safe sanctuary!).

    Just for the record, after reading several independent reviews (e.g. the Consumers Association etc) McD’s are pretty much the ONLY chicken nuggets I’d ever let my 4 children eat.

    I’m also very impressed by the way McD’s have managed to evolve and bring themselves back from what looked like a very tricky – and potentially fatal – downward spiral a few years ago. Still us Brits still tend to be a bit success-phobic – we never like things to get too big, or too successful.

    [Incidentally, realise this all sounds a bit sycophnatic but have no other connection to McD’s other than being a content customer!]

  23. Johnny Norfolk

    They do a good job and are very successful. Unlike the people that hate them. Sometimes they are a God send.
    I used to arrive in towns and cities very early in the morning and McD was the only place open where I could have breakfast.

  24. jean shaw

    We have got all the bunny huggers out in force, havent we !!!
    McDonalds, KFC etc do a brilliant job , they provide good food at an acceptable price ,open long hours , child friendly and once a fortnight they are a good place to go for the family.
    I appreciate home cooked food by the people who post on this site is almost certainly superior to fast food but for a lot of people microwaving crap or a diet of crisps is far inferior.
    As for the bunny huggers enjoy yourself but stopping whining and let the rest of us enjoy ourselves , thank goodness the damage that vegans to their health is beginning to be understood. I also suggest you come out from your little city bubbles and appreciate life and death in the real rural world.
    Re Auntie Flo a vegetarian who loved children and animals was in fact ( excl Stalin ) the biggest murderer in history

  25. Godfrey Wind

    Bedd Gelert says “So do you endorse anti-union policies at companies like Starbucks, Borders, Wal-Mart as well ??”

    McDonalds offers something far better than unionisation. It works as a franchise – a business model that people based in a community can operate within their own community, and keep the profits. As an example, McDonalds has created more black millionaires in the US than any other economic entity in history.

    Liz says “… and quickly closed down two (pretty good) nearby community-run caffs which couldn’t compete with the prices; so instead of three places to socialise, people of any age only have McDonald’s.”

    Why didn’t those “community-run caffs” cut their prices, if they knew that what the community really needed was a choice of caffs?

    Auntie Flo’ says: “How can meat from animals raised in such dreadful conditions be good for you?”

    Because there is no actual link between dreadfulness and nutritional value?

  26. Tony Hannon

    I cannot stand McDonalds and have a great deal of trouble with militant vegetarians.

    Read the McLibel case. I have and delight in the fact that, for me, McDonalds is a toilet that sells burgers.

  27. “the ‘McJob’ snobbery that’s prevalent today”

    I think it’s interesting that Digby Jones has also become a pro-McDonalds shill. The vast majority of workers at McDonald’s lack full-time employment, have no or little control over their workplace, and quit after a few months. Now, if that’s the ideal first job for youth in Britain, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

    “They sell extremely tasty food”

    This is satire, right? The food, at best, is mediocre, and from various points of view (antibiotics in meat, ten teaspoons of sugar per Coke), it’s poisonous.

  28. Auntie Flo'

    From the Viva website:

    Chicken – the healthy option?

    Nearly all 850 million UK chickens are fed antibiotics daily. 72 million die from disease

    Up to one fifth of chickens may be fully conscious when they enter the scalding tank to loosen their feathers.

    Broiler sheds may contain up to 50,000 birds – each one allowed a space the size of a telephone directory

    Broiler Barbarity: Four-fifths of broiler chickens (killed for meat) have broken bones and deformed feet, legs and other bone deformities

    80 per cent of all eggs come from battery hens – kept five to a cage no bigger
    than a microwave oven.

    25 per cent of turkeys are in chronic pain because of swollen joints – 70 per cent of big birds.

    Millions of calves, lambs and pigs are conscious when their throats are cut.

    Disease, dirt and crowding, antibiotics and chemical growth enhancers – that’s the five month life of most pigs.

    In the UK alone, 850 million animals and hundreds of millions of fish are killed every year to put meat on tables – that’s more than three million animals a day.

    Before they are slaughtered, hundreds of millions lead desolate, disease-ridden lives on factory farms. Turning vegetarian means you’re no longer a part of that cycle of death.

    Rainforests are cleared for grazing; methane from livestock causes global warming; soil is eroded by cattle; slurry poisons waterways; and the seas are laid to waste by overfishing. The global appetite for meat and the industrial techniques of the meat industry are destroying the Earth.

    http://www.viva.org.uk/goingveggie/index.php

  29. Auntie Flo'

    BSE

    It is believed cows get the disease from eating commercial feed that includes bone and brain from animals.

    ‘The spread of BSE is the result of animal feeding practices that are harmful in a variety of ways,’ Katz said.

    Feed animals that should be herbivores are provided meal that contains the ground-up parts of other animals. This, of course, carries with it the risk of spreading disease, but it also changes the quality and composition of meat intended for humans, Katz explained.

    ‘Valuable nutrients have been ‘domesticated’ out of beef, and harmful qualities introduced, because of the way modern animal husbandry is conducted. Such changes are the result of the mass marketing of feed animals by large farms devoted to efficiency and profit rather than the care of individual animals,’ he said.

  30. Auntie Flo'

    United Nations Agriculture Department:

    we should not loose sight of the general association between intensification and disease.

    The more intensive the production the more there is a risk of the spread of infectious disease, and the more radical are the necessary medical and sanitary prophylactic measures.

    In intensive poultry production, at least for breeders and layers, which are kept for a reasonably long time, there is a long list of diseases against which it is necessary to vaccinate.

    Now for village poultry, it is not known whether the more secondary diseases are also present to the same degree, but simply masked by more lethal diseases, but it seems to me that it is possible that infectious agents such as reoviruses, for example, may be less prevalent in village poultry, where an unnatural degree of proximity does not pertain, than in the intensively kept poultry.

    The intensive poultry population itself may also provide the means for the selection of new pathological entities, which might not otherwise have arisen in the natural population.

    Take for example the new virulent form of Gumboro disease which originated in the European poultry industry, and which has now been spread around the world by this same industry, and which is, it seems, now infecting rural poultry.

    Would this have arisen without the ecological opportunity provided by the intensive poultry population?

  31. McDonalds use disinfectant in their loos. Thereby killing millions of living creatures, including their very young children. What right do human beings have to live at the expense of millions of microbes. They are part of nature maintaining the ecological balance not like humans who produce nuclear reacors, peak oil, 300 ft sea level rise & the current global warming.

    They are also American & capitalist which should end all argument.

  32. Tom

    McDonald’s is awesome! Screw the hippies, I want my dead animals, they taste so good. Meat is murder; tasty, tasty murder.

  33. That “Tom” above isn’t me, by the way

  34. Mike

    McDonalds is a successful business that has become a global phenomenon through good supply-chain management and offering an affordable product that’s tasty to many. For some of the sandal-wearing community, like anti-Flo, it represents exploitative capitalism at its worst. Instead of boring us to death with your polemic, why don’t you do an Anita Roddick , and set up a healthy fast-food chain ?

  35. Acer

    Good for you and your family. You could have added for good measure that McDonalds set new standards in hygiene (especially their toilets)forcing others in the high street to copy. This was especially true when McDonalds first moved into central and eastern Europe.

  36. Auntie Flo'

    Mike said:

    For some of the sandal-wearing community, like anti-Flo, it represents exploitative capitalism at its worst. Instead of boring us to death with your polemic, why don’t you do an Anita Roddick , and set up a healthy fast-food chain ?

    Because I’m too busy as Managing Director of my own business, Mike. I’m supposedly on leave at present, yet I’ve a pile of paperwork to do.

    What’s your industry – dole claimaints PLC, public sector or politics?

  37. The responses to the this almost astonishingly un-controversial post remind me of the Monty Python skit, where a couple of diners in a fancy restaurant complain about a dirty knife, and the restaurant staff tip over the edge into suicidal and homicidal rages. Its why I could never participate in British politics in any elected capacity- who needs this level of idiocy day after day?

  38. Stu

    I think someone needs to dish up a plate of troll’s meat for Auntie Flo’… Or not…

    Tom, who said “Meat is murder; tasty, tasty murder”: We should make a point, in this world, never to eat anything that didn’t at one point have a mother and a name.

    Don’t you just wish we could have In & Out Burger in this country? Now that’s a tasty burger.

  39. I don’t hate McDonald´s, but I do think that people who take their children there for a TREAT, are idiots – they want to teach their children, that if they’ve been good, they´ll have unhealthy food. Yay. If you don’t go there often (as you said), then it’s not so bad.

    And the reason I almost never eat there, is that it’s full of ugly fat people who don’t love their body enough to switch a hamburger with a carrot now and then. Eww. So even when I go there I usually use Drive-in.

  40. Why anyone wishes to eat what to me seem like unpalatable boiled plastic buns and grilled shoe leather patties served up as food at McDonalds, and other US style hamburger ‘restaurants’, is beyond my comprehension. The food is unappetising and indigestible; it’s crap. I’ve always suspected that is why it is smothered in that appalling mixture of individually anonymous condiments that, paradoxically, create startling and unresolvable taste conflicts when combined. That the thing is served up with chips that may once have been potatoes but are much more likely to be made of reconstituted sawdust merely compounds the offence. Once, in desperation I made the mistake of buying a breakfast in McDonalds. It was the most disgusting mess I have ever eaten and put me off McDonalds for life.

    I eat fish and chips from a decent chippy when I want fast food, and I’ll drive some distance to get them. I would literally have to be starving to eat anything from McDonalds.

  41. Sophie

    What about the homogenisation of the planet, the ridiculously low wages paid to workers in the 3rd world who pick their produce, the threat they pose to small businesses, the fact that these multinationals are in a powerful position to put pressure on the IMF and World Bank to make trade fairer? Oh, and Morgan Spurlock’s great documentary, Supersize Me. If that didn’t put you off feeding your children their junk I don’t know what would! On the other hand, where you eat is entirely your choice. But please don’t say you can’t see why people hate the chain…it represents the dark face of economic globalisation. (Mind you, unless you’re a Green Party MP I wouldn’t expect you to realise there is one…)

    See my article on fair trade and multinational corporations:

    http://sophiemcadam.wordpress.com/2008/07/14/world-fair-trade-dayworld-fair-trade-day/

  42. Dan

    Well I must say I hate the snobbery too, but it seems absurd to suggest that McDonalds provides ‘extremely tasty food’, with or without the snobbery. Still, each to his own…

  43. DaveA

    I can see where all the arm chair socialists have jobs now, preaching to us about the evils of global waming, capitalism and McDonalds. Like the socialists of the 60s and 70s, you will grow up soon.

  44. commenter

    What this comment thread needs is more wholesale copypasta from humourless veggie ranters.

    Or maybe… cheeseburgers…

  45. tom2

    anyone who has read McLibel will see that they haven’t achieved such status as a benign force, choicely selling burgers and healthy options without some little local difficulties.

  46. commenter

    There really ought to be a reading list of correct books, so everyone can be on the same page righteous indignation-wise.

  47. Richard

    Now I have to disagree about the food being “tasty”. Not fond of their burgers (my own home-made are so much better), and they serve the most disgusting bacon roll I have ever tasted. Subway’s is better and was cheaper last I had it.

    However that is my tastes, and the only reason I don’t use them. If you do actually like the food, in moderation it isn’t going to do you or your kids any harm. In fact to make that a rare treat, and teach the children that is what such food should be, is probably a good lesson for their future health.

    The positive effect of retail efficiency is something I had overlooked until reading a learned article on the issue not long ago. Very important to economic development, it appears, and one of the reasons for slow development in certain countries.

  48. I refer posters (oh & you, too, Tom) to a brief resume of the McLibel trial in the mid 90s:
    http://www.mcspotlight.org/case/

  49. Auntie Flo’ You Rock Man!

  50. Phil

    Tom:
    Still waiting for your response to Bedd’s point about endorsing anti-union practices.
    Vegetarianism isn’t Labour Party policy but I was under the impression it was policy to support working people paid a pittance and exploited by rapacious companies and who are not allowed to represent themselves. (That’s the point Godfrey, exchanging one boss for another doesn’t make it better).
    If you feel McDonalds is so undervalued why not cross the benches? You’ll feel a lot more comfortable with that lot or who see exploitation of people and resources as an end in itself.

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