Why McDonald’s Won’t Be Getting A Gold Star From Me

While I kicked off the new year with some fairly modest sustainable goals, I was surprised to hear that McDonald’s had also started 2014 by announcing some sustainable goals of their own. McDonald’s announced in January that that by 2016 they would be sourcing only sustainable beef for their burgers.

I don’t want to sound like a negative Nellie but if I could write the sound you make with your mouth and nose that is halfway between exasperation and disbelief – I guess you would call it a snort of derision – that’s what I would write.

Whoa, back up the camper trailer Bernie, this should be good news.

It is… I guess…

McDonald’s heading towards sustainable beef is a huge game-changer for the industry and for the environment. It’s just… I feel like they kind of missed the point.

For a start, McDonald’s is getting a big slap on the back for doing something they should be doing anyway. It’s like giving a gold sticker to a child for doing a poo on the toilet. Are we congratulating them for not smearing it on the walls?

Plus, they haven’t done it yet. But this marketing and attention and consumer goodwill will do wonders for their image until 2016.

It gives me the shits. Sorry… But it does.

What would make more sense to me is if McDonald’s headed towards sustainable beef but also the reduction of beef. I would be happier if they announced that they were no longer selling burgers with two beef patties in them because they realised the concept was ridiculous, or maybe that their burgers could still taste the same but with sustainably farmed beans or lentils mixed through them to reduce the amount of meat they rely on.

I had a quick look at the McDonald’s menu to see what was on offer in the beef range. Do you know how much meat is in a Quarter Pounder? Yes, it’s a quarter of a pound but to bring it to Aussie measurements that equals 113.40gms of meat. That means that a Double Quarter Pounder has 226.80 grams in it! I checked and re-checked that figure as I could not believe there was over 200gms of meat in a burger, that is… gross, not to mention heartburn city.

Surely, I’m not the only one thinking that if the amount of beef required by Maccas stays the same, it’s not going to cut down the amount of greenhouse gases produced by the cows themselves as well as the transport of the cows, or the emissions created by the feed required for the cows, not to mention the water and land requirements that go into raising cattle.

These are all details to be “worked through” by McDonalds as they negotiate what sustainable beef actually is. And when they do announce what their version of sustainable beef is we can all clap and cheer again at how clever they are for not smearing crap on the walls… or something like that.

If you personally want to make a difference to the environment, head to Meat Free Week today and take the challenge of having a week without meat (including fish and seafood). If we all try and reduce our consumption of meat this will make a difference to the health of the planet.

Let me know your thoughts. Should we be high fiving Maccas or giving them a smack on the bottom?

Posted at Small Footprint Friday


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