A redevelopment project in Loma Linda, California is being met with protest now that city council members have approved the addition of a McDonald's to their historically healthy community.
Loma Linda was once named by National Geographic as the city with the greatest life expectancy in the country, an honor that is, at least in part, due to its large population of Seventh-day Adventists. Known for healthy living, their influence is behind some of the community's noticeable exclusions: there are no liquor stores within the city limits, and smoking has been banned for nearly 30 years. "There's no question that smoking is harmful to people's health," says resident Dr. Wayne Dysinger. "Exposing people to fast food also is harmful to their health...McDonald's does not fit the Loma Linda brand of health and wellness."
And when it comes to keeping the golden arches out of their town, residents are ready to turn on their inner Eastwoods.
A noisy group of doctors at the city's landmark Loma Linda University Medical Center definitely isn't lovin' it. Already, there are whispers of election day payback and crafting a ballot measure to choke off a proliferation of fast-food joints.
McDonald's is fighting back, however, by defending their "healthful menu options" and claming the new restaurant will "provide the city with a 'contemporary dining experience and help fuel economic growth.'"
But Loma Linda isn't buyin' it. "Trying to say there's a healthy menu at McDonald's is like putting 5 milligrams of Vitamin C in a cigarette," said Dr. Sylvie Wellhausen in what I hope was not an invitation for us all to shove Emergen-C into our Camel Lights. And let's not forget their oatmeal that "contains more sugar than a Snickers bar and only 10 fewer calories than a McDonald's cheeseburger."
But the debate isn't really about whether or not McDonald's is healthy, it's about government's role in maintaining the well-being of its citizens. "We should keep people from harming one another," said Loma Linda's Mayor, Rhodes Rigsby. "But government doesn't have a strong need to keep people from harming themselves."
Meanwhile, McDonald's has recently begun selling new "Chicken McBites" with some super cute packaging. And good packaging never harmed anybody.