|fast food | photo: cohdra|
McDonald’s has just launched something they are calling the McDonald’s Nutrition Network. Yes, THAT McDonald’s. The one that sells fries and burgers and other foods that are generally not associated with a healthy diet. The company is offering $5,000 grants in the New York/New Jersey area to fund nutrition programs.
Their claim? They are simply trying to better serve their clients. My take? If you have read Appetite for Profit: How the food industry undermines our health and how to fight back (and if you haven’t you should, it’s a great book) you’ll understand that McDonald’s is simply creating a great opportunity to do some self-promotion, misdirection, and try to make themselves look good in the eyes of the general public. By creating this type of a program they can claim to be doing all sorts of good things; to be responsible partners in providing nutrition education, support health programs, etc. It’s the nutritional version of green-washing (making things appear greener, or more eco-friendly than they really are).
I’m sure there are strings attached to those $5,000 grants. I’m also sure that McDonald’s isn’t going to change how they do business. They will continue to sell these unhealthy foods because, at the end of the day, that’s what makes them money. These grants are a drop in the bucket, one that they can afford to drop because of the positive publicity and public image they are hoping to create.
If McDonald’s really wanted to make substantive changes to support nutrition and nutrition programs they would change the food they have in their restaurants. They would change where they source their food from. They would create a new, environmentally conscious, health conscious, nutritionally balanced menu. They have the world’s greatest delivery system and deepest, most entrenched global business model. They could be agents for amazing change. But they won’t. Because the bottom line is about profit.
So before you get all excited about how they appear to be in supporting nutrition, stop and think about if they’re really making any changes. Don’t listen to what they’re saying, look at what they’re doing.