If there's one thing that really gets on my mammary glands, it's shrill self-righteous protestors at shareholder meetings, and McDonald's recent event is a case in point. Original USA Today report here.
'Mr. Thompson, don't you want kids to be healthy so they can live a long and healthy life?' she asked during the meeting's question and answer session.Well, that was diligent research by the reporters from just the name of the girl - turning up the mother's occupation and commercial interests. I'm sure that they didn't do anything like take this information from a press release handed out by the girl's mother and not report this. Heaven forfend.
Hannah has been well schooled in healthy eating; her mother, Kia, is a children's nutritional activist and creator of 'Today I Ate a Rainbow' - a game encouraging children to eat different fruits.
Incidentally, I'm curious to know whether Hannah is a shareholder. Her mother might be (probably a single-digit clutch of shares, purchased solely for attendance rights) but it seems unlikely, if not impossible, for Hannah to hold the shares. Anyone know?
So the McDonald's CEO took the question at face value:
"We don't sell junk food," he said. "My kids also eat McDonald's."This wasn't a bad deflection, but honestly I'd have gone further. After all, if I stood up at the shareholder meeting of a vegetarian restaurant chain and asked the CEO: "Mrs. Smith, don't you want kids to be healthy so they can live a long and healthy life? Why don't you serve food that's packed with protein and essential trace elements, like chicken and beef?" I wouldn't expect such a courteous response. The vegetarians in the audience would physically attack me. I don't fancy their chances though, as they'd be on average rather underweight on muscle and unaccustomed to the physical violence inherent in meat production and consumption. The press would pillory me for causing trouble. The CEO would throw her tofu snacks at me.
Thompson noted that he — like other parents — watches what his kids eat. "We cook lots of fruits and veggies at home," he said. He also noted that McDonald's sells fruits (apple slices in kids meals) and veggies (including side salads on the Dollar Menu). He also said that McDonald's recently began to sell fat-free chocolate milk.
If you're looking to feed your children healthy food, you don't take them to McDonald's. This is not rocket science, for goodness' sake. Burgers and chips are not health food. Everyone knows this. It's not like selling roast asparagus secretly infused with lethal levels of pork fat (mmmmmm... sorry, got distracted). Now there may be parents who feed their kids McDonald's food five days a week - where do they find the money? - but it doesn't seem to me that this should be McDonald's problem.
I'm not blaming Hannah, who has no doubt been indoctrinated by her mother from an early age. I'm not even blaming her mother for being rampantly capitalist in using a McDonald's shareholder meeting as free publicity for her interactive nutrition game. (Kia Robinson, if you're reading this, I want 50c per page view of this article for the advertising.) I'm blaming a credulous press who are happy to bash "big corporations" without actually asking the difficult questions about who is failing to feed their children a balanced diet.