McDonald's has tried to relaunch itself as a chain that cares about the provenance of its food and its relationship with farmers. But the majority of their chickens come frozen from Brazil or Thailand.
The Daily Mail reports:
“... having assumed the moral high ground, [McDonald's] customers will no doubt be all the more surprised to learn that when it comes to its ever-growing range of chicken products there has been no such transformation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is something McDonald's largely glosses over.”
McDonalds’ restaurants in the UK, where they serve free-range eggs and organic milk, are already leaps and bounds ahead of those in the United States, not that that is saying much. In the UK, the company has undergone a green-washing campaign where they boast of their wholesome suppliers and ethically sourced foods.
This has happened to some extent in the United States as well, with their Web site talking of animal welfare, sustainability and, of all things, “nutrition & well-being.” But in Britain people are being led to believe that the fast-food chain has really cleaned up their act, and they experienced a double-digit increase in sales in 2009 as a result.
And then, the truth comes out.
McDonalds’ Chicken is Not Good for You or the Planet
The chicken used at UK McDonalds’ is not raised with concern for animal welfare or sustainability, and it is certainly not good for anyone’s nutrition and well-being.
Instead, as the Mail Online exposed, it is imported frozen, largely from Brazil, where the chickens were raised in cramped, deplorable conditions. They write:
“One of tens of thousands, each bird is allowed the floor space equivalent to a sheet of A4 paper and will live for just 40 days before it hits its genetically-engineered slaughter weight. That's if it doesn't perish along the way.
Five per cent or so will be unable to cope with the conditions and die even before then.
Those that survive will be plucked and butchered in an industrial process the likes of which this planet has never before seen.”
There is no way that this qualifies McDonald’s to boast of any type of regard for animal welfare, no more than they could boast that their food is actually good for your health.
How Many Ingredients are in a Chicken McNugget?
While we’re on the topic of McDonald’s chicken, these food conglomerations are out of the realm of any food that naturally occurs on Earth, and the Chicken McNugget really takes the cake.
In The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan pointed out that McNuggets contained 38 ingredients, among them tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), a petroleum-derived chemical sprayed onto the "food" or inside the box to preserve freshness.
In high doses, TBHQ has caused precursors to stomach tumors and DNA damage in lab animals. A number of studies have also shown that TBHQ can be carcinogenic with prolonged exposure.
Other McNuggets’ ingredients include sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate, hydrogenated vegetable oils (trans fats), modified food starch (often a name for MSG, and listed as the third ingredient!), and dimethylpolysiloxane.
I can honestly say I have never tasted a Chicken McNugget, but when you realize that what you are eating is a synthetic mix of chemicals along with a bit of poorly treated, fried chicken, it’s hardly appealing.
What Happens When You Eat Too Much McDonald’s Food?
Morgan Spurlock wanted to find out, and did just that in his 2004 documentary Super Size Me.
This movie should be required viewing for all children and their parents.
Prior to his experiment, Spurlock was a highly fit and athletic individual weighing in around 185 pounds. He went on a month-long binge eating only McDonald's food and in that time gained 25 pounds and began suffering from health complaints like fatigue, headaches and indigestion.
His cholesterol levels also became high and he even suffered from a mild chemical hepatitis. It is truly amazing what massive amounts of “fake food” will do to you in only a month, but unfortunately many Americans are experiencing this in their own lives.
I’m not intending to single out only McDonald’s … all fast food restaurants are equally damaging to your health. Eating fast food:
- Exponentially increases your risk of obesity and diabetes
- Is loaded with dangerous additives like trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup and MSG
- Contains genetically modified ingredients
- Lacks the nutrients your body needs to thrive, let alone maintain itself
It takes very little effort to pull up to a drive through and get a meal for your family (albeit a disastrous one) from a fast-food chain, but please don’t exchange this convenience for a bed in the ICU or an early ticket out of this life.
Your health -- your energy levels, your appearance, your mood and so many other factors -- will improve when you eat the foods your body was designed for. Returning to a diet of locally grown, fresh whole foods is really the only way to reach optimal health -- and no matter what their advertisements may say, you won’t find this at McDonald’s.