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Did somebody say boycott?

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Published 10/11/2000

Here’s a great excuse to beef up on your fast-food awareness: Monday, Oct. 16, is the 16th annual Worldwide Anti-McDonald’s Day. From Australia to Europe, people will be picketing and protesting against the Golden Arches and everything they’re perceived to stand for. Although no formal activities are planned locally, you may want to join those who are simply avoiding the ultimate hamburger superstore — at least for the day.

Why are people joining this great American eat-out? To raise their quality of life, or to make a grand statement about the world? Choose one from the following reasons, or create your own combo.

A) Go slow: Most drive-through burgers consist of a sugary, spongy bun hiding a salty gray patty, which we Americans seem to claim as a symbol of our nationality. For others around the world, though, the protest is about more than bad food — McDonald’s and other U.S. chains represent the invasion of American culture into societies with their own rich, unique culinary heritages.

The Slow Food movement resists such incursions and celebrates lovingly prepared regional specialties over quickie scarf-downs. It’s difficult to argue with the Slow Food manifesto, which calls for “sensual pleasure and slow, long-lasting enjoyment” over efficiency. In this spirit, why not bring home an authentic Italian or Indian meal instead of a Big Mac? If you call ahead to order, it’s almost as quick, and leftovers help balance out any cost difference. For more on the international Slow Food movement and philosophy, go to www.slowfood.com.

B) Low blow: Another reason for the protest is the fact that, to keep prices low, fast-food companies must purchase low-cost ingredients. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, this often means cramped, substandard living conditions for chickens, pigs and cattle, plus a long list of questionable production practices, including debeaking of hens and failure to properly stun animals before slaughter.

After months of negotiation with PETA, McDonald’s has agreed to consider stricter standards for its suppliers. In return, PETA will withdraw its participation in the Oct. 16 protests and will withhold distribution of negative campaign materials — including its dreaded “Unhappy Meals.” Read all about PETA’s temporary agreement with McDonald’s at www.McCruelty.com.

C) Solo no: But how can a solo citizen successfully protest against powerful and moneyed multinational corporations? The Anti-McDonald’s Day is one way to focus the fight. As explained by the McInformation Network, an international group that encourages active debate about McDonald’s, the company has been singled out because the nature of its business encompasses a variety of social and economic issues: ethical labor and agricultural practices, environmental concerns, animal rights, suspect advertising and nutritional claims, and the invasive spread of its corporate culture.

Most of all, protesters object to the company’s eagerness to sue anyone who might criticize it. In the mid-’80s, UK vegans (people who don’t use any animal products whatsoever) distributed leaflets outlining “What’s Wrong with McDonald’s,” which led to a history-making libel suit that makes David and Goliath seem like small fries. Find the entire story of this continuing legal battle, as well as several well-organized, intelligent arguments regarding Mickey D’s, by bookmarking the McInformation Network at www.McSpotlight.org.

TREATS

Learn to cook some of Andiamo Restaurant’s specialties at a cooking class with Chef Aldo, this Tuesday, Oct. 17 at Andiamo Italia West (6676 Telegraph, Bloomfield Hills). For $39.95, you’ll learn to prepare a four-course meal and get to eat it afterward! Call 248-865-9300. … After 50 years, Kitchen Glamor, known for its upscale kitchen equipment, is holding a close-out sale: good news for wannabe gourmets looking for good prices on Cuisinart, Emerilware and other high-end culinary necessities. Stores are in the Novi Town Center, Great Oaks Mall (Rochester Hills), Orchard Mall (West Bloomfield) and at 26770 Grand River in Redford.

Got a food tip? Write to Eaters Digest care of the MT, or e-mail letters@metrotimes.com .

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