It’s true that McDonald’s French fries are served in Ballard. And that potatoes are grown in Richland, Washington. Is it McDonald’s fault if folks leap to conclusions and assume that the French fries in Ballard are made with potatoes grown in Richland?
This billboard ad, which recently appeared on the south end of the Ballard Bridge, seems like another example of so-called localwashing. With the growth of the local food movement, suddenly, like politics, all business is local. And I mean all business.
The fine print–“Participation and duration may vary”–doesn’t instill much confidence. It almost sounds like it belongs to another advertisement altogether. Maybe its just a standard disclaimer or maybe it means that some of the potatoes used at the Ballard McDonalds are from Richland, some of the time.
Given that McDonald’s dominates the U.S. potato industry and potatoes are grown in Washington’s Tri-Cities area (Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick), it seems quite possible that some of those harvested in Richland would make their way to Ballard. But it’s hard not to conclude that McDonald’s is leaping on the local bandwagon here.
There is, however, an interesting local flavor (sorry) to this. I happened to drive by another of these billboards on Highway 99, south of downtown Seattle. This one appeals more broadly to Seattle, where French fries may or may not be made from potatoes that come from Pasco, Washington.
I haven’t canvassed the city for these billboards. Perhaps other neighborhoods have similar ones. Perhaps Lake City French fries hang with Kennewick potatoes.
Or perhaps the marketing folks at McDonald’s are savvy enough to pick up on the fact that some folks here have never got over Ballard’s annexation to Seattle in 1907 and know enough to treat Ballard as a special case.