McDonald’s showcases family farmers in new ad campaign

As someone who spends a lot of time traveling for work, I find myself in the drive through lane at the “Golden Arches” on a fairly regular basis.

Though I’ve always been a chicken nugget fan, I found myself admiring McDonald’s from a different perspective this week.

The company recently released three new commercials highlighting some of the family farmers who produce their beef, lettuce and potatoes.

This was definitely not something I expected from the fast food giant.

Let’s face it, McDonald’s is a fast food restaurant that specializes in quick, affordable food that tastes good.

They aren’t in the “health food” business because though their customers want to feel healthy, they aren’t willing to pay Whole Foods prices for their double cheeseburgers.

So what motivation does McDonald’s have for these commercials?

At the end of the day McDonald’s is a business that would not produce these videos if they didn’t think they would be profitable somehow.

So many companies, celebrities and special interest groups have made the conventionally produced food that McDonald’s serves taboo.

My family farm is considered by many of these types of folks to be a “factory farm” because we give our cattle grain feed along with their grass and give sick animals antibiotics so that they won’t suffer.

If you’ve ever read my blog or looked at any of the photos I’ve posted of my farm, I’m sure you’ve noticed that it doesn’t look at all like the “factory farm” imagery these groups publicize.

In fact, I’ve had people email me and ask if we sell freezer beef because they want to experience, even if only virtually, the farm that produces their food.

I’m always proud to respond that while we don’t sell beef directly to consumers, the beef you pick up at your local grocery store or fast food restaurant could have come from our farm and likely came from a family farm very similar to ours.

Essentially, that’s the same message McDonald’s is portraying in these ads.

McDonald’s has found value in promoting the family farmers who raise the food they serve.

McDonald’s has decided that family farms like mine are not something to be embarrassed of but instead something to showcase.

I couldn’t agree more.

It will be interesting to see how these videos go over with the general public.

I sincerely hope that they will encourage consumers to get to know family farmers, even if only via the internet, and continue learning the truth about where their food comes from.

So kudos to cattle rancher Steve Foglesong, potato grower Frank Martinez and lettuce producer Dirk Giannini for taking the time to share your farm story with the world.

We need more family farmers to tell their stories, otherwise people who have never seen a farm will tell it for us.


Comments

McDonald’s showcases family farmers in new ad campaign — 15 Comments

  1. As a farm girl from the Salinas Valley, I was very happy that McDonald’s is putting a human face to the food that everyone eats. After all, we eat the same food that urbanites do!

  2. Couldn’t agree with you more on this one, Celeste. Great post! Advertising is a paid means to persuade, and there wouldn’t be any point of McDonald’s running ads unless there was a payoff in the end. These ads are particularly important as the general public begins to question the origin of their food and how it was processed through the food system. The general public is the ultimate decision maker when it comes down to driving demand for food. I just wrote a post about the future of agricultural advertising and how it’s going to be portraying more farmers/producers in the next few years. Take a look and let me know what you think!

  3. I love these commercials! You did a great job with this blog post. I’m a 3rd generation dairy producer. The term “factory farm” has always frustrated me. It’s a made-up term with the goal of influencing people to reject animal agriculture by no longer consuming meat, milk and eggs. Most people have no idea the time, effort and money it takes to provide the kind of quality care we give our cows. Family farms come in all sizes! It’s up to us to spread the truth about agriculture. Thank you for your efforts!

  4. Thank you everyone for the comments.
    Glass Half Full- The more discouraging news I read the more motivated I am to keep blogging, tweeting and finding ways in everyday life to share my farm story. This blog may be the closest some people ever come to meeting a family farmer so I always try to pack as much information as I can into each post. It’s amazing how many a reader emails or comments I get saying they found my blog because they were “googling” some question about food or farming. I hope that by putting the truth out there, I’ll keep reaching the people looking for a farmer’s perspective!

  5. I just watched the McDonald’s commercial featuring the lettuce farmer — and I love it! I immediately started searching for info on the ad campaign and found your blog. May I say, it’s very well written. I am not a farmer of any sort, but I do appreciate the work you do. In these current times where “sex sells” (we are one of many families that boycott Carl’s Jr. due to their ads)it’s about d@#& time we show children where food comes from and how it’s grown and nurtured. Kudos to The Golden Arches and bigger kudos to all our dedicated and hard-working farmers out there. THANK YOU!!

  6. Remember when McDonald’s dropped their egg farmer once it became EXPOSED that their egg factories (I refuse to call it a farm) was doing unspeakable things to animals. Do you think they care about animals, or billions of dollars? They may well have found another torture center to get their eggs.

    When people eat a burger, they like to think the beef came from a cow that lived on a nice farm and grazed in a nice big pasture owned by some nice ranchers. McDonald’s probably does legitimately use those people to get their beef from, but the fact is that they probably are using them as a supplier now SO THEY CAN MAKE COMMERCIALS LIKE THIS.

    Watch “Food Inc.” (available online for free: http://www.novamov.com/video/pg1hprm38oahy). This will change your mind on how proud you are of these pretty little commercials.

  7. James- I agree that McDonalds is using these commercials for their own profit and likely not due to a moral motivation. Honestly, I’m glad if they’re making their supplier decisions based on finding farmers who properly care for their animals. As a family farmer myself, I applaud any company who makes a point to support farmers who hold themselves to the highest standards because that’s what we do on our farm.
    As for your mention of the movie “Food, Inc.” I have seen the film and urge you to continue your research because that film only depicts one opinion/perspective of a very complex food system. As both a journalist and a farmer, I can tell you there are some major errors in that film: exaggerations being portrayed as facts, unqualified sources being portrayed as experts and research quoted that the original publisher has retracted because they found serious errors in their findings. (In fact, one of my journalism classes studied the film as a “how not to report” example because it does such a poor job of using credible facts).
    I am glad to hear that you are interested in learning where your food comes from. I hope you’ll find my posts about my family farm informative and I’ll do my best to answer any questions you may have.

  8. Hi Celeste…..

    I just viewed the most recent McDonald’s commercial on where their beef comes and who produces it. My issue with the commercial is that it reflects that all their beef comes from grass-fed cattle. Now you and I both know that this is untrue and that the majority of the beef raised for the fast food industry and retail consumption is produced on feedlots. I applaud your efforts in agriculture and your statement on how you produce your product, but my issue with the commercial is that it is misleading to the general public. We can disagree about how each of us feels food should be produced in this country and around the world, but I would appreciate honesty from the corporate giants. They tapping into a marketing theme to pull more consumers in. I found you site very informative and will keep checking in now and then.

  9. Kathy – I think you misunderstand the roll that feedlots play in conventional beef production.
    In America, very few beef producers raise cattle from calves to harvest weight. Instead, different family farms specialize in caring for their cattle at different stages of development. A “cow/calf” producer is one that breeds the cows and where calves are born. After the calves are weaned and weigh around 400 pounds, they are sold to a “stocker or backgrounder” which is what my family does on our farm. When the cattle reach 700-800 pounds, they are sold to a buyer who generally sends them to a feedlot where they spend 4-6 months before they are processed for beef.
    Up until now, the cattle have spent their entire lives on pasture.
    I’ve never raised lettuce or potatoes so I can’t vouch for the accuracy of those commercials but I can say that the beef commercial is an accurate portrayal of the types of farms where most beef cattle in America spend the majority of their lives.
    If you’d like more information, I’d encourage you to check out Explore Beef because they do a great job of explaining the process.
    Or if you’d like, send me an email and I’ll try to help you find a beef producer in your area so you can see their farm first hand and make your own comparison to the commercial.

  10. I think its appalling that McDonald’s is blatantly lying to Americans and using free range farming commercials to falsely advertise their cruel animal slaughtering practices. Are we really THAT gullible and naive? Is it so hard to believe that yes, McDonalds and all other fast food chains are engaging in acts of mass animal cruelty with industrialized raising & slaughtering of chickens, cows & pigs? Please SHEEPLE, do some intelligent research and stop letting your minds fall victim to false advertising.

  11. “I can say that the beef commercial is an accurate portrayal of the types of farms where most beef cattle in America spend the majority of their lives.”

    Where is this proof? Why have I always heard that 95% of animals live on factory farms? I’d like to know where you obtain your information.

    Stacia is right, McDonalds cannot afford the time it takes to raise animals on a “family farm” with how much they sell. It wouldn’t make sense for their business. So so sad.

  12. Allie, back in they day people always heard the world was flat, how did that work out? The proof is that I have met these farmers and ranchers and know who they are selling their cattle to, what more proof does one need than an honest person’s word?

    Stacia, you are the one that is “gullible and naive” if you don’t believe this commercial but believe all the other misinformation that is out there. You wanted people to “do some intelligent research and stop letting your minds fall victim to false advertising.” but have you done the same?

  13. Amy, all I have to say is you must have a ton of time on your hands to know what each and every farm that supplies McDonalds is a friendly farm. I don’t know if I would take your word for it… since I’m assuming you’re in the agriculture business. Isn’t that a little bias?

    I’ll just add: “Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel, he is the only one that inflicts pain, for the pleasure of doing it.” – Mark Twain

    My parents have been long time vegetarians… so if vegetarians live long and healthy lives then what is the point of eating meat besides the pleasure and not the necessity?

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