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Can McDonald’s Pull Off “Local”?

Local is all the rage right now. Everywhere I turn, I see restaurants and stores pitching their food as locally grown and sold. I think this is pretty fantastic (though it certainly can get out of hand—I recently saw a “locally raised and organically fed filet of rabbit with a side of natural root of summer squash and a home-grown fat of pig garnish”), so I was especially intrigued when I saw that McDonald’s has recently launched a “locally sourced” food campaign in Washington state.

The premise is simple—McDonald’s claims that 95 percent of the fries and Filet-O-Fish sandwiches and 88 percent of its apples served in Washington come directly from within the state. These are pretty interesting statistics, especially because McDonald’s is seen by many as a big bad corporation—the antithesis of local. If you take a look at the microsite for the campaign, you can see the full list of specific products, and where they come from in Washington. Nifty stuff, and, if nothing else, they’re offering a free medium fries just for checking out the site. You can bring that one right to your nearest Washington McDonald’s for about 28 free fries from Washington, and 2 from god knows where else.

The question is—does a big company going local mean anything to you? If you heard that your local McDonald’s used locally sourced ingredients, would you be more likely to succumb to your Big Mac cravings? Or, do you think this campaign, with its varying “participation and duration” clause, is a sham to “localwash” consumers? If it’s successful, should McDonald’s try to expand the idea throughout the country? You tell us!

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