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McDonald’s Switches to 100% Grass-fed Beef

by | Apr 1, 2009


UPDATE: April Fools!

Fast food mega-chain McDonald’s has just announced it will be making all its burgers from 100% grass-fed beef by the end of 2010.

McDonald’s is the largest purchaser of beef in the United States, serving more than 47 million customers daily. Since the company was founded in 1940, their beef has been supplied by feedlot livestock raised predominantly on a diet of corn and soy. As the first major fast food chain to make the shift away from traditional corn-fed beef, McDonald’s is hoping to be a leader in a new era of responsible fast food.

A spokesman for the company says the effort is motivated by consumer demand for safer, healthier products, as well as concern for the environment.

“The nation is ready for change and McDonald’s wants to be a part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

The new grass-fed cattle used by McDonald’s will also be free of antibiotics, which are only necessarily when livestock are artificially fattened on grains. Grass-fed cows are healthier and do not produce as much toxic waste as cows reared on feedlots, but they also mature more slowly. As a result, more time and money are required to raise grass-fed cows. McDonald’s acknowledges that this will result in a substantial 40% increase in the price of their burgers, but believes consumers are willing to pay for the added health and safety.

“Consumers are nervous about the increasingly dangerous problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that results when livestock are given large amounts of drugs, as they are on feedlots. By switching to grass-fed beef, we believe McDonald’s can play a substantial role in reducing this risk.”

The company is also aware of the positive impact this move may have on greenhouse gas emissions. It has been reported that nearly 20% of all greenhouse gases are produced by cattle, even more than are produced by automobiles and transport. They are hoping that their move away from corn-fed beef will encourage more environmentally friendly practices by the beef industry.

This new project is part of an ongoing effort by McDonald’s to offer more high-quality, environmentally friendly items to consumers. McDonald’s began serving organic milk in the U.K. in 2003 and premium coffee was added to U.S. menus in 2006. But the switch to grass-fed beef is by far the most significant “green” change any fast food chain has made to date.

The shift has only been announced for U.S. restaurants, but insiders suggest grass-fed beef may reach global consumers by 2012.

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UPDATE: Cheese-filled Bacon Blanket And Meat Cake

by | Jan 29, 2009

UPDATE: New York Times embraces the bacon blanket!

I saw this story a few days ago, but it is now the most emailed story in the New York Times Dining section so I have no choice but to update this post.

Apparently someone decided to take the bacon blanket to new heights by filling it not with cheese, but with more pork. (This pic is their work, not mine).

Is this the most brilliant stroke of genius of 2009?

This writer says yes.


Here’s my original post:

I know I usually post wonderful, healthy recipes for you guys but sometimes it is just as valuable to see the opposite.

They call it a “Bacon and Cheese Roll,” but I think the name sells this creation short by not specifying that they actually weaved bacon slices together to form a bacon blanket.

Part of me believes this could actually kill you on the spot.
I mean, I love bacon and I love cheese, but I look at this and think only one thing:
And because there is no limit to the perversity of some imaginations, here is a three layer meat cake for your viewing pleasure. (Click the link to fresh99 for the recipe).
Let it be known that the frosting is mashed potatoes and the filling is ketchup and worcestershire sauce.
I can understand a nice steak every now and then, but a slice of meat cake?
Once again I have to ask…. Why?
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Anthony Bourdain Takes A Shot At Alice Waters

by | Jan 23, 2009

On Monday, January 19, the dcist printed an interview with celebrity chef and star of the Travel Channel’s No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain. When asked if he had any advice about food, Bourdain took the opportunity to point out that Alice Waters “annoys the living s***” out of him.

Really? Thanks, Tony, great advice.

Here is the excerpt (here is the link):

Any advice about food?

I’ll tell you. Alice Waters annoys the living s*** out of me. We’re all in the middle of a recession, like we’re all going to start buying expensive organic food and running to the green market. There’s something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic. I mean I’m not crazy about our obsession with corn or ethanol and all that, but I’m a little uncomfortable with legislating good eating habits. I’m suspicious of orthodoxy, the kind of orthodoxy when it comes to what you put in your mouth. I’m a little reluctant to admit that maybe Americans are too stupid to figure out that the food we’re eating is killing us. But I don’t know if it’s time to send out special squads to close all the McDonald’s. My libertarian side is at odds with my revulsion at what we as a country have done to ourselves physically with what we’ve chosen to eat and our fast food culture. I’m really divided on that issue. It’d be great if he [Obama] served better food at the White House than what I suspect the Bushies were serving. It’s gotta be better than Nixon. He liked starting up a roaring fire, turning up the air conditioning, and eating a bowl of cottage cheese with ketchup. Anything above that is a good thing. He’s from Chicago, so he knows what good food is.

I’m not sure where to start.

Clearly Bourdain understands neither the goals nor the motives of Waters’ political activities. No one is trying to legislate good eating habits. Well, maybe someone is, but it isn’t Alice.

Waters is one of a growing number of activists that recognize the government already has too big a hand in governing what we eat, specifically through controlling what is available. Currently the federal government (i.e. tax payers) subsidize the mass production of food and products known to cause heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.

Decentralizing our food supply means putting our food production back into the hands of people who grow real food rather than high-fructose corn syrup and trans fat. Why this is “unrealistic” is beyond me.

His economic argument–as if Bourdain knows anything about being poor–is equally infuriating:

“We’re all in the middle of a recession, like we’re all going to start buying expensive organic food and running to the green market.”

It is a common misconception that eating fresh, seasonal food is prohibitively expensive. This is simply not true. Sure the produce at Whole Foods is pricey (you pay for what you get), but their dry goods are inexpensive and of high quality.

You know what’s expensive? Brasserie Les Halles.

Farmers markets are becoming more prevalent every year and local, seasonal produce is some of the highest value food you can buy. Cooking at home is far more cost effective (in price, long-term health and often time) than eating out.

Once again, thanks for the advice Tony.

Does Alice Waters annoy the s*** out of you too?

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FDA Revises Fish Recommendations: Is Something Fishy?

by | Dec 17, 2008

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is asking the White House to amend its own previous warnings that children and pregnant women avoid seafood for fear of mercury poisoning, the Washington Post reports. The agency argues that the neurological benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, selenium and other minerals are worth the risk of mercury poisoning.

But not everyone is happy about this.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other consumer advocate organizations are outraged by the proposed change, accusing the FDA of catering to fishing industries and ignoring public health. The EPA has called the FDA document “scientifically flawed and inadequate” and an “oversimplification” of the health concerns involved.

There is a large body of scientific evidence that mercury can cause problems in the developing nervous system, so the new recommendations would have to be careful to educate consumers about both the positive and negative aspects of consuming more fish.

I have not seen the report myself, so I cannot pass judgement immediately. However, as I have explained in Synapse the dynamics of fish consumption and mercury contamination are very complicated, particularly for children and pregnant women.

My advice is to be careful with fish regardless of what the FDA report says. While it is extremely important to consume adequate omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamin D from fish sources, mercury contamination is a serious concern that should not be overlooked.

To get the maximum benefit from fish and minimize mercury consumption

  • Eat fish at least twice per week
  • Avoid large fish such as tuna, shark and swordfish
  • Seek fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel
  • Take vitamin D and omega-3 supplements (fish oil based) when fish is not available
  • Enjoy vegetarian sources of omega-3s like soy, flax and walnuts

Recently I have been experimenting with canned sardines and anchovies and they are much better than I expected them to be. I also enjoy canned salmon as well as smoked salmon or lox (but watch your nitrate intake!). If you can afford it, fresh fish is always wonderful.

Do any of you have strong opinions about the FDA report or know if it is available to the public yet?

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