McDonald’s Field To Restaurant Farm Tour . . .
I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for McDonald’s. I attended an event to facilitate my review and received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.
Do you think the words ‘fresh’ and ‘McDonald’s’ go together? During my recent Field to Restaurant Farm tour, I found out that they do!
Bright and early on Friday morning, I met several bloggers and other journalists at a San Jose McDonald’s. After checking in and grabbing some breakfast, it was time to jump on the bus for a drive down to Taylor Farms in Salinas, California. It amazing to see all the beautiful, bright green heads of romaine lettuce growing. These are grown with care so they look just as appetizing on your plate as they do in the field.
Various machines, such as the one pictured below, are used to reduce physical strain for farm workers. With the machine doing most of the work in harvesting the lettuce, workers don’t have to bend over and stand up several hundred times a days anymore. Instead, the lettuce is automatically cut and carried up to them on a conveyer. They then pull off the outer, more imperfect leaves and get them ready for the next step. For any greenery left, it is then tilled right back into the ground to make for fresh soil for the next crop planted.
Despite the layers and layers of mud that accumulated on my shoes, this was my favorite part of the tour. Being in urban surrounding most of the time, it’s so refreshing to see how the food we eat grows and the dedication it takes by all involved to offer the best and most fresh food to be consumed. Plus, there’s something about wearing hairnets and gloves to make you feel special 🙂
At the Taylor Farms facility, the harvested heads of romaine are sorted, cleaned, cut, and packaged with a barcode to identify that crop. The below photos only show what we saw in one area.
This is what it looked like when in the other viewing area:
Did you ever realize so much work was being put into preparing lettuce? I sure didn’t. But, what fun is a food tour if we don’t eat any of it?!
Our next stop was the National Steinbeck Center. Here, we had the opportunity to hear from a panel of local suppliers who partner with McDonald’s to provide the vegetables, bread, dairy, meat, and fruit. The most intriguing bit of information was the fact that the ingredients provided to McDonald’s are the exact same as what we purchase in our grocery stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, etc. There’s no difference. In fact, McDonald’s quality standards for fresh items is even more stringent than what is used for retail stock. Shelf life for retails stores is 14 days but only 10 days for McDonald’s. That means the items at McDonald’s are fresher than what we find at the store! Wow, just wow!
- John Nash, Cargill – Beef
- Crystal Dohner, Crystal Creamery – Dairy
- Stephanie Jackson, Taylor Farms – Produce
- John Slater, ARYZTA – Baked Goods
- Bill Brown, Chiquita – Apples
Gilroy Garlic Festival volunteers put together a delicious lunch for us with all local produce and meat. Plus, we even got a little table-side entertainment from the Chefs Sakahara and Bozzo who had a little jingle to share.
There’s no way I can share all the information I learned during my tour. However, stories from various suppliers can be found online as well as all the nutritional facts for foods McDonald’s offers. My views of McDonald’s has changed slightly in learning that the ingredients they use are high quality and just the same as what I’d buy to eat more ‘healthy’. I also love all the choices and the fact that you can pretty much customize any and all menu items to include or exclude items to fit your personal dietary needs.
So the next time you think of McDonald’s, you can associate it with adjectives such as tasty, fresh, and top-quality. You can also take advantage of healthy options by getting your order without mayonnaise or bread, getting a garden salad instead of fries, or getting an extra bag of apples for your child’s Happy Meal at no extra cost. Anyone up for some McYummies?