If Fast Food Went Local and Organic, Would You Eat It? | Civil Eats

If Fast Food Went Local and Organic, Would You Eat It?

On the 21st of September the Franco-Belgian fast-food chain Quick took the plunge, selling a certified organic burger– with Swiss cheese and locally-raised meat– for a cost of 2.50 euros each, 43 percent more than the traditional Quick burger. The burger will be available for eight weeks to measure demand. The company claims that it has worked for a year to procure the quantity of organic meat needed to fulfill the eight weeks of service. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the organic patty and onions are cut square instead of round, differentiating it from the non-organic version.

It is not surprising that the French market is moving in this direction. The government recently announced an additional six million euros would go towards helping farmers transition to certified organic agriculture, which can be costly for the farmer and takes five years in France. The French government has also set a goal of converting 20% of French agriculture to organic by 2020. It seems fast-food restaurants are seeing the handwriting on the wall.

While fast-food chains like Chipotle have staked their reputation on buying antibiotic and hormone-free meat stateside, and locally based fast-food chains like BurgerVille in the Pacific Northwest have focused on local, sustainable food and practices, larger chains like McDonald’s and Burger King have yet to acknowledge this market in any significant way. If American fast-food chains went organic, would you be more likely to buy their food? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.

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Paula Crossfield is a founder and the Editor-at-large of Civil Eats. She is also a co-founder of the Food & Environment Reporting Network. Her reporting has been featured in The Nation, Gastronomica, Index Magazine, The New York Times and more, and she has been a contributing producer at The Leonard Lopate Show on New York Public Radio. An avid cook and gardener, she currently lives in Oakland. Read more >

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  1. If it were local, and a credible local source reviewed it and approved, I would definitely eat at a good fast food place.

    I'm a single parent. I love my work. My son doesn't like most of the food I like to cook. So I don't cook much. I would love to be able to pick up burgers (and burritos and chicken) and know they were healthy and doing right by the planet.
  2. Not a chance - a fast food chain still has serious inherent flaws, irrespective of whether they source their food from better places. It's still unhealthy, usually too greasy to be palatable, and the chains operate in a way that's detrimental to both smaller businesses and their staff. I'll save my money for somewhere with more original food and better morals.
  3. Kelly
    Don't forget Elevation Burger - fantastic East Coast chain that is all natural, hormone free, and all the goodies. They grind their meat on the premises, make their own fries in front of you, and even offer cane sweetened sodas as an alternative for avoiding hfcs. And they still come in, cost-wise, as about the same as any of the global fastfood chains.

    I eat at Elevation a few times a month. Would I do the same if McDonalds offered a local/organic menu? Perhaps - it would depend on how tasty it was, and if it was genuinely as sustainable as advertised.

    If we want the ideal to be all places serving local, sustainable, organic foods, then it's necessary to walk the walk and support companies that make the change. Otherwise, there will be no incentive for anyone to make the change.
  4. Probably not if it were just "organic," but if I knew those grass-fed burgers and pastured fried chicken fingers came from locally raised and slaughtered animals? And that the buns were prepared fresh daily? And the ketchup was house made from local, seasonal, heirloom tomatoes? Probably. I love a good burger and fries as much as the next American. But the whole point of the modern fast food industry is that it's fast and CHEAP. In our current society, organic, local, sustainable food ain't easy on the wallet. But the alternative? Even less easy on the planet.

    Besides, fast food chains make their money by selling a LOT of food at a very low profit margin. It's hard to find thousands of pounds of grass-fed local beef every couple of weeks. It just doesn't exist. Economies of scale are what built fast food just like they built box stores. It's hard to translate that into local, sustainable food.

    That being said, I don't like deep-fat-frying in my house and lord do I love french fries. So if there was a place that used local organic produce? I'd probably eat there quite a bit.
  5. Organic and local ingredients would be a great improvement, but there are more reasons to limit (or all together avoid) fast food. If it still had the same kind of employment practices, level of processing, marketing to children, large-scale corporate chain structure, and menu items (heavy on meat and sugar, low on vegetables, mostly deep-fried, etc.), I'd still opt out. At the same time, it would a huge step in the right direction!
  6. http://www.farmburger.net/
  7. Jason
    Like Sarah, I wound only eat fast food organic burgers if they were grass-fed and grilled using olive or equivalent oil. If it was a nice atmosphere with good workers I would give it a try.
  8. Gardenatrix
    Here in Austin, P. Terry's has staked their reputation on making slow fast food, if you will. Natural meats, locally raised chicken, local tomatoes, french fries cut throughout the day from real, live potatoes. No trans fats. They have the drive thrus that folks would expect from a fast food burger, and somehow they're doing it at a price that's not wildly over what you'd expect. In Austin, they're managing to expand rapidly, probably from a mix of folks who know why it's better, and others who just prefer the taste.

    I'm not a huge burger fan, myself -- but when I do need a quick bite, that's where I go. I think to really get better food out there, it's essential to have alternatives at all levels -- so I think it's a great trend to encourage.
  9. GoneWithTheWind
    I'll see Jason's PC terms and raise him: It would have to be grilled using alternative energy and cooked by a union worker on a stove built less the 100 miles from the restaurant and seasoned with sea salt.
  10. If it tasted good and were organic, yeah I'd eat it when I was on the road.
  11. I live in California and have had that choice for years.


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