Corporations Going Global and Adapting to Local Culture

In my Food, Eating, and Culture class we recently read an article entitled
Of Hamburger and Social Space: Consuming McDonald’s in Beijing. The article is about the first McDonalds opening in Beijing and how the company was forced to adjust to the culture of the Chinese people and how the Chinese people adapted some American culture. It got me thinking about other companies going global and how they must change their business models from their country of origin in order to be successful abroad.

McDonalds in Beijing

McDonalds in Beijing

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The Best…

Of the first Two Weeks…

Special thanks to Evan and Leah for being the first two guest editors on the Blog Council. Of course, none of their fine work could be included for consideration.  These were not easy decisions, so kudos to everyone for producing such good content.

The council will provide individual feedback to a few randomly selected authors.  We want to encourage everyone to use more tags, practice embedding photos in posts, and write GOOD titles.

Drumroll….

When your food gets around more than you do….

Thinking about where your food comes from is a scary idea. Remember as a child how you may have chewed on your toys or put something in your mouth that you should not have? And your mother would say “You don’t know where it’s been!”
Now take a second look at that apple you are chewing on. Where is it from? Continue reading

Worth the wait

It’s funny that after you read good articles about food, where does it come from, etc…you pay more attention to your food choices and give some thought when getting a tomato from the salad bar. However, in the end it always comes down to people and how are we going to change what we are currently doing to have a better future (adaptability- natural systems), to eat purer foods.
I heard today in class a quote about how much Americans like convenience and, it got be thinking about how truth it is; from the simplest things as baby food. When I mentioned that I actually cook and puree my daughter’s soup it amazes people, then I go into explaining that it is so simple, you put whichever vegetables you want in the pressure cooker, plus meat, some water, then you close the lid and 20 min later it’s ready! But I guess it is easier to go and buy the processed Gerber food at the supermarket- why then do we want more farmers’ markets? Or local groceries?

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Connecting with John Mackey od

I didn’t know much about John Mackey until I read “The Anarchist’s Cookbook.” Learning about his values, management style, personal lifestyle, and overall beliefs regarding an organization has allowed me to make connections in several different areas. First of all, I don’t mean to criticize, but I am legitimately confused as to why he is a vegan based on values (as opposed to preference) when the company he owns offers animal products. The article states that, “He’s now a vegan, on the principal that all food causes harm to the animals that produce it.” Obviously offering animal products is crucial to helping them stay afloat and turn a profit, but the article also says that Mackey is not interested in money, so why didn’t he just remove himself from the business altogether?

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Pollan – Naturalist or Rationalist?

Pollan is a naturalist. I thought I would answer the title question right off the bat. As he makes clear in his article, he is no fan of the bureaucracy of United States Department of Agriculture of the policies of the U.S. Government in general. As we learned in class, “natural system analysts emphasize that formalization places heavy and often intolerable burden on those responsible for the design and management of an organization” (Scott, 63). Pollan offers a wonderful example of this in the US farming system. As we remember, “formalization may be viewed as an attempt to make behavior more predictable by standardizing and regulating it” therefore creating more stable expectations (Scott, 37).

Pollan points out that the U.S. Government has done an outstanding job at formalizing and unifying the U.S. farming system. Perhaps part of the problem is that many US consumers have never tasted or experienced locally grown food. It’s hard to understand how poor food quality is or appreciate how high quality locally grown food can be in system of complete formalization that does not encourage trying different types of food.

Pollan seems to suggest regional formalization by methods such as changing U.S.D.A. laws to accommodate smaller regional food growers and slaughterhouses and encourage the development of “agricultural enterprise zones” to allow small farmers to grow and sell without making huge investments. Perhaps an example of what Pollan has in mind is the Farmers Diner in Barre, Vermont. 70 percent of the products offered in the diner are grown at area farms. Much of the dairy products are sold at a slight premium—$1.95 for a 16-ounce glass of milk instead of $1.49 down the street at Friendly’s—but “so far, enough customers have been willing to pay those modest premiums in exchange for the taste and satisfaction of the genuine article.” Tod Murphy, the owner of Farmers Diner, conceptualized a franchise organization of decentralized regional “pods” consisting of four diners and central food-processing plant where area animals and produce from local farms could be processed. In an area of decentralized online networks, perhaps it is about time companies begin to develop as more autonomous organizations that specialize their services to each individual community instead of offering a ubiquitous service across the nation.

Overall I think Pollan made some very insightful suggestions. His suggestion that the government incentive farming as a career, however, makes little sense. There is a reason that the nation’s “best and brightest” are not going into farming—it’s often hard, repetitive, and occasionally physically intensive labor set in mostly rural if not middle-of-nowhere locations with comparatively little social interaction and poor compensation. For those of us who grew up in the suburbs or cities of America, the extent of our farming experience is helping mom plant peas or flowers in the backyard garden. Such little exposure encourages gardening as a hobby, not farming as a career.

The wave of sustainable practices across the food industry is an unstoppable trend. Even the White House cooking staff is on board. The real question is simply how long it will take to implement practices such as those suggested by Pollan.

Sources:

Scott, W. Richard and Gerald F. Davis: Organizations and Organizing – Rational, Natural, and Open System Perspectives. New Jersey, 2007.

Pollan, Michael: Farmer in Chief from New York Times Magazine. New York, October 12th, 2008.

Shorto, Russell: A Short-Order Revolution from New York Times. January 11th, 2004.

Sustainability:A New Loop-Hole

With the onset of our current economic crisis, people around the world have taken a step back in hopes of a better day. It seems to general trend of the world system; ride the highs, and reform the lows. This has been the pattern of the US for centuries. When lows come along, flaws in our ever porous system are highlighted and the areas in need of immediate improvement become all too apparent. These problems are either ignored or impossible to see during affluent times but once exposed, they are the most obvious loop holes. Continue reading