When you think of fast food, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Presumably, it will be McDonald’s. Every day, 64 million customers visit one of the 32,737 McDonald’s restaurants, which have already spread to 117 countries. McDonald’s is not only the largest fast food chain in the world but also the largest meat buyer and probably one of the biggest global influencers of our society The success story of McDonald’s began in California in 1940 when brothers Mac and Dick McDonald opened their first McDonald’s restaurant.
McDonald’s is best known for its special way of preparation and self-service. In 1954, the foundations for the spread of McDonald’s were finally laid when Ray Kroc, a 52-year-old salesman, visited the McDonald’s brothers. He was fascinated by the McDonald’s idea and suggested to the brothers to do business with him and open many more McDonald’s restaurants.
The plan worked and ten years later there were already more than 700 restaurants in the United States alone. McDonald’s also became more and more successful internationally and climbed further and further upwards – to the forefront of globalization. Today, McDonald’s is the largest fast food chain in the world – and there are several others in this segment of gastronomy. But where there is light, there is also shadow.
Anyone who reads this successful company story probably doesn’t wonder at first whether McDonald’s uses fair and legal means to be so successful. We want to take a look behind the scenes of the golden M.
A Look Behind the Scenes
As mentioned earlier, McDonald’s is America’s largest meat buyer. But where do the huge amounts of meat that McDonald’s needs to stuff 64 million mouths a day come from? In America, McDonald’s assures that this meat does not come from South America, where the rainforest is being cut down to create grazing grounds for the animals. But there are witnesses who claim the opposite: truck drivers and also workers of a meat processing factory in San José have commented on this.
They confirmed that McDonald’s buys meat in South America. Edmund Brand, who works for German development aid, is also convinced of this. If McDonald’s gets its meat from South America, the company bears enormous blame for the deforestation of the rainforest and thus destroys our environment, where companies like Agroforestry Group do the opposite (check out the Agroforestry Group review to learn more). After all, 80% of the cleared area is used as pasture for cows. José Lutzenberger, a well-known Latin American ecologist, confirms this.
A McDonald’s manager even wanted Lutzenberger to say McDonald’s was not responsible for the destruction, but Lutzenberger did not get involved. In Germany, it seems to be similar to that in America. Consumers don’t know where the meat they eat comes from. Rather, they are repeatedly told lies about advertising. Customers are tricked into believing that McDonald’s knows exactly which meat comes from which farm.
The advertisement shows farmers on their idyllic farm supposedly supplying McDonald’s with healthy and fresh ingredients. Is meat production really as transparent as it is shown in advertising? McDonald’s actually gets its meat from the Esca Solution, behind which the OSI Group is hiding. These companies do not give out any information about where the meat comes from. You won’t find anything on their website and you won’t get any replies to e-mails. Foodwatch.de suspected that they receive meat from abroad. So you don’t know exactly where the meat comes from, and whether the animals live in species-appropriate husbandry.
Antibiotic use in fattening farms
The huge meat demand of McDonald’s can actually only be met with the help of factory farming, whereby cows and chickens “live” in a confined space and usually in their own excrement. Apart from the torment of the animals, these circumstances are also true breeding grounds for bacteria.
Therefore, the animals are given vast amounts of antibiotics – in Germany alone it is a total of 900 tons per year. However, the use of antibiotics creates another problem: antibiotic-resistant germs develop in the stomachs of the animals. These germs have a specific enzyme called ESBL (Extended-spectrum Beta-Lactamase), which is able to inactivate antibiotics. These germs are also called ESBL germs. The problem is that the ESBL germs are still on the meat even after slaughter and can thus also get into our stomachs.
If you carry ESBL germs, antibiotics are ineffective, which is a problem, especially in hospitals. Experts are of the opinion that every 25th person in Germany already carries these ESBL germs and that 200 people die from them every year. It is a logical conclusion that McDonald’s, as the world’s largest meat buyer, also bears the greatest share of responsibility for the development of these ESBL germs.
McDonald’s – Supersize Me
Apart from the possible germs in the meat, the other ingredients on McDonald’s menus are also not healthy. The film “Supersize Me” by Morgan Spurlock clearly shows how harmful the consumption of McDonald’s food can be. He filmed a 30-day self-experiment, eating only McDonald’s food.
There were four rules: – three full meals a day – no more than 2000 steps a day – order every McDonald’s product on the menu at least once – order a supersize menu when asked Spurlock had a doctor confirm that he was in good health before the experiment.
However, when he was re-examined after the experiment, the result was quite different: he gained 11 kilos, his cholesterol value is 65 points and his body fat percentage increased by 7% and his risk of heart attack had doubled. Spurlock also suffered from exhaustion, depression, mood swings, and potency problems.
Spurlock accuses fast food chains of being responsible for obesity in America. Critics, of course, say you just shouldn’t eat at McDonald’s every day. But there are people who do just that. 60% of Americans are overweight. After smoking, obesity is the second most common, preventable cause of death. Obesity leads to diseases such as cancer and diabetes that dominate our society today.
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Sick from fast food?
Fast food is definitely partly to blame for the fact that people in the world are getting fatter and fatter. But what exactly is it that makes this food so unhealthy? One problem is certainly the loss of physical activity, which is sometimes caused by the high density of fast food restaurants.
In every city, you will find a McDonald’s restaurant. Whether at the train station or in the pedestrian zone – in slightly larger cities you hardly have to move to reach a fast food restaurant. The second problem is the food itself. A fast food menu contains unhealthy fats, sugars, flavor enhancers, animal products that likely come from factory farming, and a lot of table salt (sodium).
Fiber, vitamins, and minerals, on the other hand, are almost not included at all. A diet of this kind inevitably leads to getting sick. But the time factor also plays an important role. The fast food, which is strongly promoted by McDrive and Co, is enormously unhealthy. You don’t have time to chew properly if you eat fast in the car. But chewing is important to produce stomach acid and digest it properly.
Fast Food Society = Fast Society
The impact of McDonald’s on us – not just on our health but on our entire lives – is frightening. Only the people who are over 40 years old today still know what life was like without McDonald’s. McDonald’s and fast food have changed our world tremendously. Even in school canteens, students can find food like fries, burgers, and shakes.
Georg Ritzer calls this phenomenon “The McDonaldization of Society”. But how could McDonald’s achieve this role in our society in the first place? Ritzer says four important factors give McDonald’s success: efficiency, predictability, predictability, and control. It is efficient that, for example, the child can eat quickly and cheaply at McDonald’s if both parents work. Children grow up with the fact that food has to go very fast so that they can make better use of their time.
The time pressure of our society is growing more and more. You have to achieve as much as possible in a short time. The lunch break is not long enough to allow yourself time to eat. McDonald’s and other fast food chains promote this fast pace and grow at the same time. Of course, efficiency is important for global competition, but one should not forget the essential things in life, including the time to eat healthily.
McDonald’s cooks global one-size-fits-all porridge
McDonald’s customers obviously appreciate the fact that you always know exactly how the food at McDonald’s tastes and what you get there – whether in Bangkok, Berlin, Cairo, or New York. In every city, you will find a McDonald’s restaurant and you can be sure that if you eat there, it tastes like everywhere. As is well known, humans are “creatures of habit”, which is why so many people do not eat in a typical restaurant, especially during the holidays, but at McDonald’s and Co.
People often do not dare to try something new – according to the saying: What the farmer does not know, he does not eat. They are unsure because the food might not taste good after all. The predictability of McDonald’s brings success to the company and at the same time destroys our food culture. But McDonald’s is not only changing our food culture but cultures in general. Whether in Berlin or Paris – the shopping streets all look very similar.
Everywhere you will find shops such as H&M or McDonald’s, which displace individual boutiques and regional restaurants. It actually makes almost no difference where you go – everything is becoming more and more like the “big uniform porridge”. Of course, McDonald’s is not solely to blame for this development – the destruction of cultures is a general problem of globalization. But it can be said that McDonald’s and other fast food chains – but of course also their customers (without whom they could not exist) – contribute a large part to this.
Therefore, apart from the health consequences, you should always ask yourself which development you support, e.g. through a Visit to McDonald’s. Do we want such a society? Each of us can do our part – live consciously and don’t let ourselves be dragged into this vortex!