While many fast-food chains are rapidly expanding throughout the globe, there’s one country in South America where McDonald’s did NOT survive. What??
In Bolivia, people prefer their traditional foods to Big Macs and french fries. Citizens still love hamburgers, but they prefer to buy them from indigenous street vendors called cholitas. The fast-food chain closed all locations in 2002 because it was simply not profitable. Can you imagine that?? The failure piqued the interest of filmmakers, who made a documentary in 2011 called, “Why did McDonald’s Bolivia Go Bankrupt?”
“Fast-food represents the complete opposite of what Bolivians consider a meal should be,” according to the blog El Polvorin. “To be a good meal, food has to have been prepared with love, dedication, certain hygiene standards and proper cook time.”
What I find most fascinating about Bolivia is that it’s a culture where community values prevail. Bolivia’s population values their food systems, food producers, and their ecosystems, so much so that food sovereignty laws continue to pass in the government to ensure that they preserve their food traditions and put less economic pressure on commodity crops. The country’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, even called U.S. fast-food chains “a great harm to humanity” at a United Nations General Assembly meeting in 2013. Bravo!! I wonder what would happen in other countries if more of the population embraced longer, slower meals made with love rather than quick, convenient, unhealthy foods.
What worries me most is not so much adults who choose to eat at McDonald’s but children who get sucked in by the advertising, the hype, the ‘happy’ boxes with bright colors and a toy inside and their parents who appreciate the convenience of it. I too, when my boys were younger, would cave every once in awhile and do a quick ‘drive through’ so that I knew my boys would be eating something in between soccer and football practices. I too succumbed to feeding my boys crap so that they had full bellies. But here’s the ironic aspect of all of this; we grab the unhealthy fast food, feed it to our children thinking we’re doing them good, when in fact, their growing bodies would be better off not eating a meal at all! Ok, ok, I’m venting – I know.
A country without McDonald’s – one can only dream.