What’s the connection between McDonald’s and starvation in the ‘Third World’?
There is no point in feelin guilty about eating while watching starving African children on TV. If you do send money to Band Aid, or shop at Oxfam, etc., that’s morally good but politically useless. It shifts the blame from governments and doesnothing to challenge the power of multinational corporations.
HUNGRY FOR DOLLARS
McDonald’s is one of several giant corporations with investments in vast tracts of land in poor countries, sold to them by the dollar-hungry rulers (often military) and privileged elites, evicting the small farmers that live there growing food fortheir own people.
The power of the US dollar means that in order to buy technology and manufactured goods, poor countries are trapped into producing more and more food for export to the States. Out of 40 of the world’s poorest countries, 36 export food to the USA – thewealthiest.
Some ‘Third World’ countries, where most children are undernourished, are actually exporting their staple crops as animal feed – i.e. to fatten cattle for turning into burgers in the ‘First World’. Millions of acres of the best farmland in poor contries are being used for our benefit – for tea, coffee, tobacco, etc. – while people there are starving. McDonald’s is directly involved in this economic imperialism, which keeps most black people poor and hungry while many whites grow fat.
|GROSS MISUSE OF RESOURCES GRAIN is fed to cattle in South American countries to produce the meat in McDonald’s hamburgers. Cattle consume 10 times the amount of grain and soy that humans do: one calorie of beef demands ten calories of grain. Of the 145 million tons of grain and so fed to livestock, only 21 million tons of meat and by-products are used. The waste is 124 million tons per year at a value of 20 billion US dollars. It has been calculated that this sum would feed, clothe and house the world’s entire population fo one year.|
|FIFTY ACRES EVERY MINUTE EVERY year an area of rainforest the size of Britain is cut down or defoliated, and burnt. Globally, one billion people depend on water flowing from these forests, which soak up rain and release it gradually. The disaster in Ethiopia and Sudan is at leastpartly due to uncontrolled deforestation. In Amazonia – where there are now about 100,000 beef ranches – torrential rains sweep down through the treeless valleys, eroding the land and washing away the soil. The bare earth, baked by the tropical sun, becoms useless for agriculture. It has been estimated that this destruction causes at least one species of animal, plant or insect to become extinct every few hours.|
Why is it wrong for McDonald’s to destroy rainforests?
- AROUND the Equator there is a lush green belt of incredibly beautiful tropical forest, untouched by human development for one hundred million years, supporting about half of all Earth’s life-forms, including some 30,000 plant species, and producing a ajor part of the planet’s crucial supply of oxygen.
PET FOOD & LITTER
- McDonald’s and Burger King are two of the many US corporations using lethal poisons to destroy vast areas of Central American rainforest to create grazing pastures for cattle to be sent back to the States as burgers and pet food, and to provide fat-food packaging materials. (Don’t be fooled by McDonald’s saying they use recycled paper: only a tiny per cent of it is. The truth is it takes 800 square miles of forest just to keep them supplied with paper for one year. Tons of this end up litteing the cities of ‘developed’ countries.)
- Not only are McDonald’s and many other corporations contributing to a major ecological catastrophe, they are forcing the tribal peoples in the rainforests off their ancestral territories where they have lived peacefully, without damaging their envronment, for thousands of years. This is a typical example of the arrogance and viciousness of multinational companies in their endless search for more and more profit.It’s no exaggeration to say that when you bite into a Big Mac, you’re helping the McDonald’s empire to wreck this planet.
What’s so unhealthy about McDonald’s food?
- McDONALD’s try to show in their “Nutrition Guide” (which is full of impressive-looking but really quite irrelevant facts & figures) that mass-produced hamburgers, chips, colas, milkshakes, etc., are a useful and nutritious part of any diet.
What they don’t make clear is that a diet high in fat, sugar, animal products and salt (sodium), and low in fibre, vitamins and minerals – which describes an average McDonald’s meal – is linked with cancers of the breast and bowel, and heart disease. Thisis accepted medical fact, not a cranky theory. Every year in Britain, heart disease alone causes about 180,000 deaths.
FAST = JUNK
- Even if they like eating them, most people recognise that processed burgers and synthetic chips, served up in paper and plastic containers, is junk-food. McDonald’s prefer the name “fast-food”. This is not just because it is manufactured and serve up as quickly as possible – it has to be eaten quickly too. It’s sign of the junk-quality of Big Macs that people actually hold competitions to see who can eat one in the shortest time.
PAYING FOR THE HABIT
- Chewing is essential for good health, as it promotes the flow of digestive juices which break down the food and send nutrients into the blood. McDonald’s food is so lacking in bulk it is hardly possible to chew it. Even their own figures show thata “quarter-pounder” is 48% water. This sort of fake food encourages over-eating, and the high sugar and sodium content can make people develop a kind of addiction – a ‘craving’. That means more profit for McDonald’s, but constipation, clogged arteries andheart attacks for many customers.
|GETTING THE CHEMISTRY RIGHT McDONALD’s stripey staff uniforms, flashy lighting, bright plastic decor, “Happy Hats” and muzak, are all part of the gimmicky dressing-up of low-quality food which has been designed down to the last detail to look and feel and taste exactly the sae in any outlet anywhere in the world. To achieve this artificial conformity, McDonald’s require that their “fresh lettuce leaf”, for example, is treated with twelve different chemicals just to keep it the right colour at the right crispness for th right length of time. It might as well be a bit of plastic.|
How do McDonald’s deliberately exploit children?
- NEARLY all McDonald’s advertising is aimed at children. Although the Ronald McDonald ‘personality’ is not as popular as their market researchers expected (probably because it is totally unoriginal), thousands of young children now think of burgers andchips every time they see a clown with orange hair.
THE NORMALITY TRAP
- No parent needs to be told how difficult it is to distract a child from insisting on a certain type of food or treat. Advertisements portraying McDonald’s as a happy, circus-like place where burgers and chips are provided for everybody at any hourof the day (and late at night), traps children into thinking they aren’t ‘normal’ if they don’t go there too. Appetite, necessity and – above all – money, never enter the “innocent” world of Ronald McDonald.Few children are slow to spot the gaudy red and yellow standardised frontages in shopping centres and high streets throughout the country. McDonald’s know exactly what kind of pressure this puts on people looking after children. It’s hard not to give in t this ‘convenient’ way of keeping children ‘happy’, even if you haven’t got much money and you try to avoid junk-food.
- As if to compensate for the inadequacy of their products, McDonald’s promote the consumption of meals as a ‘fun event’. This turns the act of eating into a performance, with the ‘glamour’ of being in a McDonald’s (‘Just like it is in the ads!’) reucing the food itself to the status of a prop. Not a lot of children are interested in nutrition, and even if they were, all the gimmicks and routines with paper hats and straws and balloons hide the fact that the food they’re seduced into eating is at best mediocre, at worst poisonous – and their parnts know it’s not even cheap.
|RONALD’S DIRTY SECRET ONCE told the grim story about how hamburgers are made, children are far less ready to join in Ronald McDonald’s perverse antics. With the right prompting, a child’s imagination can easily turn a clown into a bogeyman (a lot of children are very suspiciou of clowns anyway). Children love a secret, and Ronald’s is especially disgusting.|
In what way are McDonald’s responsible for torture and murder?
- THE menu at McDonald’s is based on meat. They sell millions of burgers every day in 35 countries throughout the world. This means the constant slaughter, day by day, of animals born and bred solely to be turned into McDonald’s products.
Some of them – especially chickens and pigs – spend their lives in the entirely artificial conditions of huge factory farms, with no access to air or sunshine and no freedom of movement. Their deaths are bloody and barbaric.
MURDERING A BIG MAC
- In the slaughterhouse, animals often struggle to escape. Cattle become frantic as they watch the animal before them in the killing-line being prodded, beaten, electrocuted, and knifed.A recent British government report criticised inefficient stunning methods which frequently result in animals having their throats cut while still fully conscious. McDonald’s are responsible for the deaths of countless animals by this supposedly humane mehod. We have the choice to eat meat or not. The 450 million animals killed for food in Britain every year have no choice at all. It is often said that after visiting an abattoir, people become nauseous at the thought of eating flesh. How many of us would be prpared to work in a slaughterhouse and kill the animals we eat?
|WHAT’S YOUR POISON? MEAT is responsible for 70% of all food-poisoning incidents, with chicken and minced meat (as used in burgers) being the worst offenders. When animals are slaughtered, meat can be contaminated with gut contents, faeces and urine, leading to bacterial infetion. In an attempt to counteract infection in their animals, farmers routinely inject them with doses of antibiotics. These, in addition to growth-promoting hormone drugs and pesticide residues in their feed, build up in the animals’ tissues and can furter damage the health of people on a meat-based diet.|
What’s it like working for McDonald’s?
- THERE must be a serious problem: even though 80% of McDonald’s workers are part-time, the annual staff turnover is 60% (in the USA it’s 300 %). It’s not unusual for their restaurant-workers to quit after just four or five weeks. The reasons are not had to find.
NO UNIONS ALLOWED
- Workers in catering do badly in terms of pay and conditions. They are at work in the evenings and at weekends, doing long shifts in hot, smelly, noisy environments. Wages are low and chances of promotion minimal.To improve this through Trade Union negotiation is very difficult: there is no union specifically for these workers, and the ones they could join show little interest in the problems of part-timers (mostly women). A recent survey of workers in burger-resturants found that 80% said they needed union help over pay and conditions. Another difficulty is that the ‘kitchen trade’ has a high proportion of workers from ethnic minority groups who, with little chance of getting work elsewhere, are wary of being saced – as many have been – for attempting union organisation.
McDonald’s have a policy of preventing unionisation by getting rid of pro-union workers. So far this has succeeded everywhere in the world except Sweden, and in Dublin after a long struggle.
TRAINED TO SWEAT
- It’s obvious that all large chain-stores and junk-food giants depend for their fat profits on the labour of young people. McDonald’s is no exception: three-quarters of its workers are under 21. The production-line system deskills the work itself: nybody can grill a hamburger, and cleaning toilets or smiling at customers needs no training. So there is no need to employ chefs or qualified staff – just anybody prepared to work for low wages.As there is no legally-enforced minimum wage in Britain, McDonald’s can pay what they like, helping to depress wage levels in the catering trade still further. They say they are providing jobs for school-leavers and take them on regardless of sex or race.The truth is McDonald’s are only interested in recruiting cheap labour – which always means that disadvantaged groups, women and black people especially, are even more exploited by industry than they are already.
|EVERYTHING MUST GOWHAT’s wrong with McDonald’s is also wrong with all the junk-food chains like Wimpy, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Wendy, etc. All of them hide their ruthless exploitation of resources, animals and people behind a facade of colourful gimmicks and ‘family fun. The food itself is much the same everywhere – only the packaging is different. The rise of these firms means less choice, not more. They are one of the worst examples of industries motivated only by profit, and geared to continual expansion.
This materialist mentality is affecting all areas of our lives, with giant conglomerates dominating the marketplace, allowing little or no room for people to create genuine choices. But alternatives do exist, and many are gathering support every day from eople rejecting big business in favour of small-scale self-organisation and co-operation.
The point is not to change McDonald’s into some sort of vegetarian organisation, but to change the whole system itself. Anything less would still be a rip-off.
- STOP using McDonald’s, Wimpy, etc., and tell your friends exactly why. These companies’ huge profits – and therefore power to exploit – come from people just walking in off the street. It does make a difference what individuals do. Why wait for everyoe else to wake up?
YOUR INFLUENCE COUNTS
- Research has shown that a large proportion of people who use fast-food places do so because they are there – not because they particularly like the food or feel hungry. This fact alone suggests that hamburgers are part of a giant con that peole would avoid if they knew what to do. Unfortunately we tend to undervalue our personal responsibility and influence. This is wrong. All change in society starts from individuals taking the time to think about the way they live and acting on their belief. Movements are ‘just ordinary people’ linking together, one by one…
- YOU might not always hear about them, but there are many groups campaigning on the issues raised here – movements to support the struggles in the ‘Third World’, to fight for the rights of indigenous peoples, to protect rainforests, to oppose the killig of animals etc.
Wherever there is oppression there is resistance: people areorganising themselves, taking courage from the activities of ordinary, concerned people from all round the world, learning new ways and finding new energy to create a better life. The apathy of others is no reason to hang around waiting for someone to tell you what to ‘do’. You need no special talents to join in your local pressure group, or start one up – existing groups will give information and advice if necessary.
For leaflets on all aspects of vegetarianism and nutrition, animal rights and welfare, etc., contact ANIMAL AID, 7 Castle Street, Tonbridge, Kent. Plenty of other contacts can be made by writing to Greenpeace at the address below.
- KICKING the burger habit is easy. And it’s the best way to start giving up meat altogether. Vegetarianism is no longer just a middle-class fad: last year the number of vegetarians in Britain increased b
- Most supermarkets now stock vgetarian produce, and vegans – who eat no animal products at all – are also being catered for. In short, the ‘cranky’ vegetarian label is being chucked out, along with all the other old myths about ‘rabbit food’.
- Why not try some vegan or vegetarian recipes, just as an experiment to start with? When asked in a survey, most vegetarians who used to eat meat said they had far more varied meals after they dropped meat from their diet. Another survey showed that peopl on a meatless diet were healthier than meat-eaters, less prone to ‘catch’ coughs and colds, and with greatly reduced risk of suffering from hernia, piles, obesity and heart disease.
- THERE are loads of cheap, tasty and nutritious alternatives to a diet based on the decomposing flesh of dead animals: fresh fruit of all kinds, a huge variety of local & exotic vegetables, cereals, pulses, beans, rice, nuts, wholegrain foods, soya driks etc. All over the country wholefood co-operatives are springing up. Now is a really good time for change.
- A vegan Britain would be self-sufficient on only 25% of the agricultural land presently available. Why not get together with your friends and grow your own vegetables? There are over 700,000 allotments in Britain – and countless gardens.
- The pleasure of preparing healthy food and sharing good meals has a political importance too: it is a vital part of the process of ordinary people taking control of their lives to create a better society, instead of leaving their futures in the cynical, reedy hands of corporations like McDonald’s.