Corporate Accountability International is a non-profit, grass-roots organization based in Boston that has been conducting campaigns since the 1970s to challenge corporate abuse across the world. The Value [the] Meal Campaign was launched in 2009 in response to the gross misconduct of a fast food industry that collects massive profits by selling products that lead to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and many other health problems.
The fast food industry has not innocently offered their Chicken McNuggets and Whoppers to customers who are eager to have them; rather, the industry has created a business model for systematically, aggressively pushing food that its executives know to be harmful. They set up stores in impoverished neighborhoods where healthy food options are scarce, and deliberately lower their prices so that lower-income residents will become regular customers. They have infiltrated themselves into public-school cafeterias, where, the campaign’s fact sheet states, 20% of the fare is now branded fast food. And they consistently fight legislation to increase corporate transparency.
As Corporate Accountability International describes it, “These global corporations spend hundreds of millions on marketing that appeals to our kids with the intent of hooking them for life… It heralds seemingly healthy menu items, even while lobbying against laws that would protect our right to know what we are really getting when we order. The industry then pumps money into ad campaigns that align its products with healthy living, exercise promotion, and sponsorships of health groups like the American Dietetic Association.”
Furthermore, the fast food industry wreaks havoc upon the environment. Their “meat” comes from factory farms, which require massive amounts of water—along with fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides—to provide feed for the soon-to-be-slaughtered animals; are directly tied to global deforestation and land degradation; produce unconscionable levels of carbon emissions; and reduce biodiversity and genetic diversity worldwide. In addition, the fast food products themselves create significant amounts of litter due to the excessive packaging of every piece of food—not to mention the waste that the fast food outlets themselves doubtless produce each day.
The campaign’s demands, as quoted from its fact sheet, are:
• Stop fast food advertising, promotion and sponsorship that appeals to children and teenagers
• Stop manipulating public health policy and nutrition science
• Provide complete, accurate and non-promotional information about the health risks of fast food
• Reduce the negative health impacts of fast food
• Do not interfere with people’s right to decide whether or where fast food will be sold in their communities
• Pay the high costs of health care associated with diet-related diseases
The Corporate Accountability International website offers many vehicles for individual action. You can sign the campaign’s petition to the fast food industry, and sign up with the Retire Ronald campaign, which likens the fast-food icon to Joe Camel of Camel Cigarettes and calls on McDonald’s to get rid of this harmful marketing tool. You can make tax-deductible donation to Corporate Accountability International with this form. You can also check out the campaign’s Facebook page and its blog.
Better yet, join us on Thursday in Leavey to pick up a postcard or make a phone call to McDonald’s in support of this campaign! And if you’re free anytime Thursday, help EcoAction and Georgetown Garden table! You can sign up here. We can use all the help with we can get, whether it’s for the campaign itself or with tabling here at Georgetown.