Monday, October 31, 2005

A tree-hugging Ronald

Two years ago, a judge accused McDonald’s of selling “a McFrankenstein creation” only loosely resembling food. Who’d have believed the same company would become arguably the industry’s strongest proponent of organics?

You still won’t find much that’s all-natural on the menu of the corporation’s mother brand, or at least not for a few hours. But McDonald’s upstart ventures are another matter. Its Chipotle burrito chain has hands-down been the biggest chain making the boldest commitment to selling additive-free, naturally cultivated meats. The proteins may not meet the legal definition of organics, but they’re certainly less processed and manipulated than the meats coming in the back doors of most chains.

Virtually all the foods sold at Pret A Manger are additive-free, but the milk provided for patrons’ coffee is the real attention-getter for food finnicks. The serve-yourself pitchers are clearly marked as containing organic milks, of several varieties. Given the supply problems that keep more organic products off chain menus, or at least beyond the brands’ economic capabilities, this is a major commitment for a small chain moving that much coffee.

And now McDonald’s itself is giving organics a try. Tomorrow, 650 units in seven New England states will start selling Newman’s Own Organics Blend java. The price wasn’t revealed, but presumably the new brew will command a premium.

In any case, it certainly can’t be called joe. Not when that’s what BK is calling its revamped brew. The King’s new jolt is a premium perk, according to news stories that quote persons at the chain. But organic? Nope. That’s the sort of thing an on-the-edge brand like McDonald’s might try.


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