The Hidden Costs of a Big Mac

November 16, 2012


12 Responses to “The Hidden Costs of a Big Mac”

  1. rayduray Says:

    Other hidden costs:

    1) Tropical forest removal for cattle ranching expansion. Particularly pernicious in Brazil, but also a problem elsewhere.

    2) Tom Friedman once wrote that “you can’t have MacDonalds without McDonnell-Douglas”. Suggesting that the global hegemony of U.S. based corporations like MacDonalds is dependent upon a taxpayer subsidized military enforcing commercial law globally.

  2. eddiequest Says:

    Well – on the plus side, the new CEO is going to push chicken, over beef… Hey, at least it’s a start.

  3. […] with Peter Sinclair (by Daniel LaLiberte)…  […]

  4. Wes Says:

    Would it be reasonable to say that if an alien species showed up in orbit and evaluated the life on Earth that they would conclude that humankind was a parasitic and destructive species incompatible with planetary health? We certainly seem unwilling to take any action that’s even mildly inconvenient, as Obama has clearly stated, even if it allows the destruction of the environment, as long as the destruction happens to our descendents, not us. China’s 1-child policy was widely condemned in the West, but it will be seen as quite humanitarian compared to Nature’s methods of population control.

    • rayduray Says:

      Hi Wes,

      Re: “China’s 1-child policy was widely condemned in the West,”

      I always thought it was a wise and sensible policy. Perhaps I was in a minority.

      But the news out of China today is that they are considering rescinding the one-child law at least in part.

      There’s something of the law of unintended consequences at work regarding this one child policy. It seems that parents who comply tend to dote on their one child and spoil it to the point that the kid becomes something of a Donald Trump wannabee crossed with a Leona Helmsley diva. The result is a generation of extreme Ayn Rand style narcissists. This may mean that the cure for over-population is even worse than what it was meant to correct. What’s evolving is an overpopulation of extreme consumerist resource hogs.

      Like I say, we’re doomed.

      • Wes Says:

        That sounds like a self curing problem for China, as the next generation will not get that much attention. I’ve thought that the 1-child policy should have been mandated world wide long ago, as my second child has been nothing but a PITA. My younger brother, however, doesn’t support the policy for some reason. I guess birth order matters!

        • rayduray Says:

          Re: “I’ve thought that the 1-child policy should have been mandated world wide long ago, as my second child has been nothing but a PITA. My younger brother, however, doesn’t support the policy for some reason.”

          Well, there’s our problem in a nutshell. Everyone takes this stuff personally. 🙂

          • pendantry Says:

            When everyone has been brought up to believe that they have some kind of automatic entitlement to reproduce to their heart’s content, it’s not surprising that they take it personally when it’s suggested that maybe this ‘right’ is a fiction, and one that should be reconsidered.

            One possible solution (not recommended for the humour-impaired) is the voluntary human extinction movement.

  5. It’s a short video, and so it really only touches on the immense impact McDonalds has had on food production in the world. The industrialization of the meat industry (making it cheaper but unhealthier), its heavy resource use, its rampant promotion, and its convenience tied to an era when people have to work longer hours for the same amount of pay can all be tied to McDonalds as a trailblazer.

    A bit on how meat production contributes to total emissions can be found here:

    These do not account, as rayduray mentioned, for the other environmental impacts: heavy land use (often requiring deforestation), pollution from waste materials (, water use, and species loss.

    But hey, they added a bunch of minimum wage jobs (enough for them to buy cheap fast food) during a recession, so B+ for that.

  6. […] with Peter Sinclair (by Daniel LaLiberte)…  […]

  7. rayduray Says:


    Rare tornado causes havoc in…. wait for it…. Portugaul??

    Global Climate Weirding, coming soon to a planet near you.

  8. andrewfez Says:

    …plus the cost of your cholesterol medication, which is 50, 100 or 150 bucks per month, and that of your blood pressure medication, which is 10, 20, or 50 bucks per month, plus the costs of the lab tests to make sure that your BP meds aren’t making your electrolytes go outa-whack, and perhaps an occasional test to make sure your cholesterol med isn’t making your liver enzymes go outa-whack, plus the cost of seeing a doctor every 6 or 12 months to review your conditions and renew you medication refills, plus the cost of driving to the pharmacy multiple times per month, plus the cost of driving to the doctor once or twice per year, and the cost of driving to the lab for blood work, etc…

    Now examine three cohorts of people: 1) folks that don’t have a McDonald’s near where they live (so that they by default can’t eat it; if you just tried to study people that actively avoid McDonald’s you’re skewing your results because those people are more likely to be health-nuts); 2) folks that eat that junk at an average rate of the population that lives near McDonald’s; and 3) health nuts or folks that don’t eat any fast food for whatever reason; take your pick. All groups should be from the same cultural, age related, economic, ethnic, etc. background, or such differences should be evenly mixed in the sample populations.

    Now examine their health care costs. The differences between group 1 and 2 are the real health costs of eating at McDonalds. The differences between group 2 and 3 are probably close to the costs of eating fast food in general (if you’re gonna go to Mcee-Dee’s, then chances are you are gonna go to KFC or Burger King, also).

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