McDonald’shas 6,600 restaurants in 40 European countries. I have eaten at 10. Currently I have dined in restaurants in Barcelona, Nice, Rome, Prague, Vienna, Munich, Zurich, Paris, and intend to dine in restaurants in Brussels and London. The reason me and my fellow classmate, Madi Smith, have chosen to take on such a lofty task is because of the difference in food standards within the European Union.
During the 1990’s American companies decided to approach the government with new innovative and efficient methods of producing food for the masses. Today this food is called genetically modified, perfectly engineered livestock and has been designed on a biological level to produce the most consistent types of food. At the end of the 20th century many American companies set their sight on the European food market while seeking to expand their sales demographic. Farmers and politicians alike immediately banded together to prevent the introduction of genetically modified food into the European Union.
Once one enters Europe, regardless of the country, it becomes immediately evident that food is kind of a big deal. Each respective country prides itself in its own unique cuisine. For France it’s crepes. In Italy it is pizza and pasta. Austria has its unique coffee culture. And of course Germany had sausages, lots of sausages. The way McDonald’s has adapted its policies, store layouts, and menus to accommodate the country that it wishes to relate to is remarkably brilliant. Three of the most notable features I have been most impressed with were the widespread introduction of McCafe, the availability of local beers and wines, and the availability of specific food which identify directly with national identity. The introduction of McCafe to European McDonald’s restaurants has taken the American reputation of the restaurant chain and completely reinvented itself as a higher class establishment fit for the cafe culture of Europe. By offering select local beers and wines in their stores the restaurant managed to integrate a concept we are foreign to in North America, alcohol as a cultural expression rather than a rebellious action. And finally, by offering unique menu selections that are specific to each country McDonald’s became a local restaurant instead of a corporate money grabber.
For a North American, it seems impossible to view McDonald’s in this light. But, after literally seeing and tasting it for myself, my perspective has changed dramatically. The McDonald’s Corporation is one of the most brilliant companies in the world today implementing such strategies that support local farmers of each area they inhabit. In Britain, France, and Switzerland McDonald’s uses organic milk products. The decision to do so was made when the dairy market began to decline in Europe and the corporation chose to support the industries of the areas it resided in. As well, over half of the potatoes used in European McDonald’s come from the United Kingdom.
By the time this trip is over I will have eaten at at least 12 different McDonald’s restaurants in 9 different countries within the European Union and if I could, I would eat more.