Apparently, the citizens of Great Britain are up in arms (figuratively) about the practices of obtaining chicken meat at McDonald’s. The whole gory story can be read in this article from the Organic Consumers Association, but the main concern boils down to the fact that only 1% of the chicken used in Great Britain is coming from England and Ireland.

The reason people are so upset about it is due to the recent dramatic shift of approval for McDonald’s across the pond. In recent years McDonald’s has effectively relaunched itself as a chain that cares about the provenance of its food and its relationship with the nation’s farmers. (In Britain, apparently.)

There have been television adverts featuring bucolic rural scenes, paper tray mats that introduce the customer to the chain’s suppliers and a website that boasts of lovingly nurtured, homegrown spuds.

The beef they use is sourced entirely from British and Irish farms, the eggs free-range, the milk organic and the coffee beans Rainforest Alliance-certified.

And, clearly, it is something that chimes with the public. During the past four years, McDonald’s UK had added £465million to its sales, while in 2009 there was a double-digit increase in like-for-like sales as customer visits rose year on year. In terms of growth, Britain is leading the way across McDonald’s international empire.

Impressive stuff, and it’s not just the public who are reacting well. This month, the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver publicly gave his backing to the chain.

‘The quality of the beef, they only sell free-range eggs, they only sell organic milk, their ethics and recycling is being improved and improved,’ he said in an interview. ‘And I can’t even believe I’m telling you that McDonald’s UK has come a long way, but actually, it probably puts quite a lot of gastro-pubs to shame, the amount of work they’re doing in the back end.

‘Also, they’ve just had their best commercial year in four years, so they’re proving that being commercial and caring can work. Actually, it’s the future.’

So, I ask you. Why can’t expect the same of the McDonald’s franchises on this side of the Atlantic? I can only imagine that the prices for free-range eggs, organic milk, and local meat would drop dramatically if there was a purchaser the size of this fast food giant who was demanding quality products. It’s the basic law of supply and demand, isn’t it? When there’s a higher demand for goods, the supply increases and costs go down. If McDonald’s were to make the shift in America towards better practices in their food supply, we would all benefit. Even those of us who aren’t eating at McDonald’s would begin to see and experience the change.

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