Sad, But True


You might think you’re looking at a map of population density in the United States but what you’re actually looking at is a map of U.S. McDonald’s locations.  Yes, if McDonalds headquarters knows what its doing (and clearly they do), these two metrics should geographically mirror one another. But, when you actually see the quantity and the distance from one McDonalds to another mapped out visually like so, it’s a little bit nauseating.

Stephen Von Worley’s article entitled “Where  the Buffalo Roamed” set out to find the largest distance in the United States of open land, not marred by the flashy glare of a fast food chain or strip mall.

As I hurtled down the highway, a pair of golden arches crept over the horizon, and the proverbial lightbulb smacked me in the forehead.  To gauge the creep of cookie-cutter commercialism, there’s no better barometer than McDonald’s – ubiquitous fast food chain and inaugural megacorporate colonizer of small towns nationwide.

He decided to measure this distance in McDonalds, after all it’s obviously one of the most popular chains in the United States. After he graphed out each location in the map above, he found that the farthest distance from McDonalds to McDonalds was 107 miles apart or 145 miles by car.

With over 13,000 locations in the U.S., what does this say about our country? Obviously obesity statistics in the United States have been blamed on McDonalds and the like, but clearly if they  keep putting up store after store, we’re buying their food.

And I’ll be honest – I loved McDonald’s as a kid. I mean, I craved it all the time. If I wasn’t happy with the home cooked meal of choice, the spoiled brat in me would beg to be taken to McDonalds. Literally beg. Now I try to make healthier choices and avoid McDonalds when I can but even now I find myself craving the fast food from time to time.

But seeing this map helps to shed some light (or maybe a proverbial golden arch aura) on the topic. What will it take to redefine eating habits in America? What healthier chains can we replace these McDonalds locations with that will still fulfill a need for convenience, cheap food and taste? In the meantime, all we can do is make better personal decisions.

Avoiding McDonalds

The best alternative to McDonalds is cooking your own meal! But obviously sometimes that’s not always feasible. Should stopping at a McDonalds be neccesary, try and choose a healthier option from the menu like a salad or grilled chicken sandwich. But if other options present themselves, choose a healthier fast food chain like Subway or Panera.

But back to cooking, here are some recipes to make at home when you’re craving those fast food no-nos:

Golden Chicken Nuggets
Mini Cheeseburgers
Burstin’ With Flavor Burgers
The Best French Fries
Hickory-Grilled Chicken Sandwiches

Thanks to Serious Eats for helping me discover this link.

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  • Barbara

    How sad that McDonald’s is always used to describe unhealthy eating. Obviously, this is easy journalism. The WORST fast food is at Carl’s Jr, but it is NEVER mentioned as bad. Even their ads are adolescent, directed to young men(they say that, not me). Anyway, I live on a block with McDonald’s, Carls jr, Burger King, and 5 other such restaurants. I do not go to any of them, unless unable to prepare a home meal at a given time (illnes,etc.) I use the computer to find the healthest of the unhealthy, and McDonald’s has some of the healthier choices. Sodium is riciculous at all of them, but at Mcs I can ask them to hold the salt. Anyway, I go there once a year, but I see them used as an example EVERYTIME. Enough, include all of them, or none!! Fair is fair. By the way, thanks for the letters that are readable(to be able to submit a comment). Really appreciated.

  • Joan Nova

    that’s a scary visual

  • plumpdumpling

    Sad?! My heart is warmed by this. It’s also my new desktop wallpaper at work.

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