It may take a bit of a leap of faith to believe, but McDonald's has announced that they plan a major change to their beef supply chain. The giant corporation, which is responsible for a great deal of mankind’s environmentally detrimental emissions, is set to move its purchase of beef to a sustainable market by 2016. The feat is far more impressive than their dedication in 2013 to purchase only sustainable fish, or the fact that McCafe coffee is rainforest friendly, simply because McDonald’s will always be a fast food burger joint and changing their beef supply chain will change the system for the entire world.
While the move has to be seen as a positive, it should be noted that there’s no real consensus on what it means to be sustainable beef. So McDonald’s has turned to the Global Conference on Sustainable Beef to help research what can be qualified as sustainable. What the group decides as it begins to analyze the issue on a global scale will undoubtedly be dubious. Members include meat packing giant Cargill and Wal-Mart.
Even local food lovers have to admit that the path to improving our food system can not rely on local farmers. We don’t live in that world, and compromises must be made. Each year we become more aware of how horrific the current food system is, but in order to feed our need for fast food and horrible food stuffs we need to change how its acquired. Dreamers want us to eat out of fresh gardens, and get our beef from a pasture raised farm next to our homes. Reality is a different thing. It may be imperfect, and it may even bend what we currently believe about sustainability, but McDonald’s taking this route with their beef is humongous for the future.
“Our vision is to buy verifiable, sustainable beef in the future for all of our beef,” said Bob Langert, McDonald’s vice president, global sustainability, in a statement to Green Biz. This vision is unclear, as the fast food giant has made no commitment on how much of its beef with be sustainable in 2016. The corporation has been on a multi-year errand to decrease its environmental footprint, and plans exist to expand the plan to all products sold by McDonald’s.
This should not be confused with McDonald’s being a provider of fresh and healthier foods. Your Big Mac is still going to be the same nutritionally vacant pseudo burger, and your McNugget will still be deep fried pink slime. The difference will be where the beef comes from that’s in the burger. Make no mistake, this initiative is being tackled because McDonald’s sees the writing on the wall. They can possibly lure some of the healthy eaters out there who might want to indulge once a month back into the fold. Also, if the current system is maintained there’s going to be a reckoning at some point. Not a biblical one, but a reckoning of reality.
It can only be hoped that the impact McDonald’s has on the environment, and mankind, can be decreased by such an endeavor.