Local Battles with the Golden Arches

Local residents of Haberfield, Sydney are this week celebrating winning the battle against the opening of a McDonalds franchise in their community. The campaign against plans for a 24-hour fast food outlet, which was destined to join the traditional Italian delicatessen, fruit markets and other small family food businesses that the suburb has become renown for, began some months ago was finally won this week as local councilors voted unanimously against the McDonalds proposal.

Not to be deterred down under, the fast food giant has recently announced plans to open a franchise in the Barossa Valley, one of Australia’s most renowned food and wine regions. Opponents to the move include high-profile chef and food producer Maggie Beer, who argues that the fast food chain does not source its food locally, and would harm the region’s culinary culture and heritage and local businesses.

“It’s not fast food I’m against, it’s about (supporting) using local food,” said Beer. “Companies like McDonald’s bring food in from a big central repository; no local ingredients are used.” Ms Beer said she would “love to see a hamburger joint in the Barossa that uses local produce, proper meat from our butchers, fresh lettuce, free-range eggs from the markets, smoked bacon”.

The proposal comes two years after the first failed attempt to open a franchise in the historic region. “I think it’s sad,” said Margaret Lehmann from Peter Lehmann wines. 

”We have a wonderful, unique food culture but McDonald’s is exactly the same everywhere in the world; it irons out all the differences that regions produce.” Her son Philip, a winemaker, added that it would be difficult for the region’s restaurants and cafes to compete with the low prices of McDonald’s.

Jan Angus, the founding chair of Food Barossa and another strong opponent of the proposal, has been promoting the Barossa valley as a unique food and wine region for a decade. “What we have to look at is what is there about a McDonald’s that the community want.”, she said, “If they’re about clean toilets, cheap meals, parking and childcare can’t we possibly do that and keep the food local?”

The Barossa Valley Council has commented that the project was yet to be approved and would be subject to approval processes, including public consultation.

Source: The Sunday Mail

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