McDonald’s Field to Restaurant Tour in Salinas, California #McDTour
I’m a fan and frequent visitor of McDonald’s and was thrilled to receive the invitation for the Field to Restaurant Tour in Salinas, California a few weeks ago. I have only been on a few farm tours, but have thoroughly enjoyed them all! The day was packed with activities and food and started at McDonald’s located at 2191 Monterey Road in San Jose, California. To start the event, we were each served a complimentary breakfast and then it was time to board the bus.
On our bus ride to Taylor Farms, we took “McDonald’s Nutrition 101” from registered dietician, Cathy Carmichael. There were fun trivia questions with prizes and lots of information. Did you know that McDonald’s Premium Salad has 3 cups of veggies in it and a Side Salad has 2 cups of veggies? I had no idea! Did you also know that there are 7 easy ways you can find nutritional information on McDonald’s dishes? We were also introduced to Lee Ann Freeman and Cosmo Fagundo, franchise owners of individual McDonald’s restaurants.
I was excited when we arrived to Taylor Farms, as I had never been to a lettuce farm before! It was beautiful and smelled delicious. I literally wanted to stand in the middle of the rows of leaf lettuce and start snacking on the yummy looking greens.
Before going into the fields, we had to put on hair nets and gloves. Jen from The Mom Jen was a real trooper to snap a photo with me – ha ha! The gloves made it a little challenging to tweet or Instagram, but I made it happen. We walked through the rows of lettuce and learned about the growing process. Did you know that Salinas is known as the “salad bowl of the world?” I had never heard of that before. Taylor Farms produces 350,000 pounds of Romaine Lettuce a day and has a crew of 16 people who harvest lettuce (the average age of the workers being 55 years old). There is no cutting by hand – that’s what the equipment does. By the time the walk through the fields was finished, my pink Sketchers were covered in mud.
After touring the farm, we headed to the Taylor Farms Lettuce Processing Facility in Castroville, California. It was pretty cool to see the lettuce being washed and processed. Did you know that every head of lettuce that goes through the Processing Plant has a bar code with information, including the name of the grower, item #, name of the harvester, harvest time, harvest date and basically the whole trail of the item? Pretty cool, right?
After touring the Lettuce Processing Plant, it was time to head to the National Steinbeck Center. The panel included (from left to right) Jon Nash of Cargill (meat), Crystal Donner of Crystal Creamery (milk and ice cream), Stephanie Jackson of Taylor Farms (lettuce), John Slater of Aryzta (breads) and Bill Brown of Chiquita (fruit). It was agreed by all of the panel members that McDonald’s has high expectations of it’s suppliers and that each company is audited under the same scrutiny and has to meet the same guidelines given by McDonald’s.
After the panel, it was time for lunch – yay! Lunch was prepared by Gene Sakahara and Sam Bozzo, headlining chefs of the Gilroy Garlic Festival. It was an amazing lunch – all made with McDonald’s ingredients! We enjoyed 3 courses.
French Onion Soup – Caramelized onions simmered in broth with homemade croutons and melted white cheddar.
Mini Mac with Chipotle Aioli – Meatballs on a hamburger bun with chipotle aioli.
Green Salinas Valley Salad – Hard-boiled eggs, cucumbers, grape tomatoes and garlic buttered country croutons with citrus blueberry vinaigrette.
Stuffed Chicken Breast – Chicken stuffed with apple, cranberry and Canadian bacon with a butter sauce.
Chocolate Espresso Cake (Gluten Free) – Chocolate espresso flourless cake with chocolate and strawberry drizzle.
The day was so much fun and I left seeing a healthier version of McDonald’s than I ever thought existed. I will always see lettuce and their dishes differently whenever I visit McDonald’s in the future.
What is your favorite item with lettuce to order from McDonald’s?