PCRM Asks Detroit Mayor To Issue Moratorium On New Fast Food Restaurants

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the group behind that TV ad equating Big Macs with death, is continuing its war on the fast food industry, asking the mayor of Detroit to stop the proliferation of fast food eateries within city limits.

According to the Detroit News, there hasn’t been a national grocery chain present in Detroit since 2007, leaving the 900,000 people of the city with significantly fewer options for food.

Proponents of the moratorium request say it’s not about policing what people eat, but about trying to make sure that fast food isn’t the only option:

“The city is out of balance,” said Meredith Freeman, Detroit program director for the Fair Food Network, a national advocacy organization based in Ann Arbor. “Detroit should have options just like any other city. If folks choose to go to McDonald’s, that’s their choice. But they should also have good food available for them to be able to make that choice, and that’s what’s missing right now.”

Detroit currently has the fourth-highest rate of heart disease in the country and a 2007 study stated that “unless access to healthy food greatly improves, residents will continue to have greater rates of premature illness and death.”

Wouldn’t it make more sense for the PCRM and other groups to be working with the city and with grocery chains to bring more healthy shopping options into the city rather than trying to limit fast food?

Group aims to ban new fast-food outlets in Detroit [Detroit News]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Kishi says:

    Meanwhile, human rights organizations are asking the Detroit mayor to place a moratorium on people living in Detroit.

  2. YamiNoSenshi says:

    Methinks the mayor of Detroit has other problems to deal with.

  3. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    You know, I’d love it if there was an awesome locally-owned deli with a fun atmosphere and a tradition of community involvement behind it, and it was conveniently located in a place I drive past all the time, with food that is prepared in-house from nearby providers, and they offered fast service and low prices.

    And while I am in fantasy land, I want a dragon and a space ship and an all-I-can-carry shopping spree at Tevana.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      *Teavana. I have not had enough of their delicious creations of late.

      • Cameraman says:

        No free healthcare and blowjobs for employees? Why do you hate healthcare and blowjobs?

        • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

          What about female employees? They cannot take of those.

          In my fantasy la-la-land, there is no need for healthcare because everyone is perfectly healthy forever unless they actually want to be sick, usually to get out of some obligation like work, school, or social activities.

  4. Cameraman says:

    Yes, because banning one type of restaurant has the magical effect of causing a different type of restaurant to spring, ex nihilo, from the ether. In fact, there are far too few sushi places near me, which is why I’m starting a petition to close down pizza joints.

    • obits3 says:

      +1 for using “ex nihilo” out of its normal theological place.

    • ARP says:

      +1 for Ex nihilo.

      Grocery ex machina

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Ironically its probably better for you to eat at McDonalds than it is to eat at a chain restaurant or a regular sit down restaurant, when we are talking about having very few options here. I don’t have anything to prove it but I am guessing you would be consuming fewer calories and less food at one of the fast food places rather than your typical sit down restaurant meal, and this is something I have been trying to say for a while. People tend to order more at a restaurant and then eat it all, when you go to McD’s you are talking about a burger, fries and a soda which while isn’t ideal, probably has a lot less calories than the restaurant meal. Now while someone could order everything on the menu and likely surpass the calories of the restaurant meal I am almost certain that it would be fewer calories for just a McD’s meal than a restaurant meal. I don’t think restaurant food is any better for you than fast food either, most restaurant food especially at a chain place is pretty much on par with fast food since its all frozen stuff from a distributor anyways.

      I don’t know how a city could possibly be without a grocery store, we have several grocery stores within 5 min of me and they are PACKED ALL THE TIME with shoppers. The only thing I could think of is there isn’t enough room for one because a grocery store does take up a lot of space, you need a huge building and tons of parking. I don’t think they could just place one grocery store either, since it would become so swamped and traffic jammed that no one would even be able to get near it if it was the only option.

  5. nbs2 says:

    Heh – I misread that last line as a statement that they are working with the city. I thought that while gunning for a moratorium was silly, at least they were trying to bring in alternatives. I should have known better.

  6. denros says:

    “Wouldn’t it make more sense for the PCRM and other groups to be working with the city and with grocery chains to bring more healthy shopping options into the city rather than trying to limit fast food?”

    Do we know for sure they didn’t try that, and were blatantly told by those companies, “we can’t compete in the market because all the fast food chains have control over the high traffic areas” That happened here when people were petitioning for a whole foods / trader joe’s.

    • coren says:

      If that were true, what good would stopping new fast food joints from opening do? They’d still have the same level of influence.

      • NewsMuncher says:

        If the population increases or the demographic changes (because the fast foodies keep dying prematurely), then it’s possible that in time the fast food restaurants would not have as great a hold. The second condition above may not be affected by a moratorium.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      It has been a longstanding problem in the U.S. to get grocery stores to open and stay open in urban centers. The land prices are too high, and grocery management don’t like having to deal with the more edgy urban crowd. I remember in St Louis going to grad school, there was one nearby grim Schnucks – I used to drive to Clayton or Ladue to get most of my groceries. In Phoenix, there’s plenty of land and quite a few people, but no grocery stores in the city center, not even a convenience store. There has been a lot of whining among people who stay in the convention center area that there are no retail stores to buy a bag of Frito’s, a Pepsi, condoms, or one of those roses in a small vase that doubles as a crack pipe. Our mayor got real excited when a CVS opened down there, carrying an expanded (for a drug store) line of foodstuffs.

  7. dolemite says:

    If the market demands healthy food that is also cheap and fast, then those types of places would spring up. However, that is pretty much an impossibility. There’s just no way to have cheap, healthy, fast food that also tastes good.

    • JoeDawson says:

      That is a rather naive comment… Even with the dubious quality of McDonald’s meat… it is certainly POSSIBLE.

      • Cameraman says:


        • ChuckECheese says:

          1. Fish or fish sticks in a taco with shredded cabbage and your choice of salsa and/or dressing. Substitute tuna salad for a cold sandwich, or pizza rolls if you’re stoned.
          2. Burritos and wraps of all kinds, and burritos made with healthier fillings.
          3. Salads wrapped in large spring rolls. Dressing inside or on the side.

          • shepd says:

            Sorry to say, but your suggestions suck (at least as far as weight loss goes, perhaps for someone with nutrition instead of weight problems you’ve got a point, but those are often wholly unrelated items). They don’t taste as good as a Big Mac, but are generally equally unhealthy (or more unhealthy, especially if you add condiments).

            McDonald’s meals generally have equal calories to the below-average meal at a chain sit-down restaurant, which PCRM doesn’t want to admit. Average out the menu at a chain sit-down restaurant and tell me if it comes under 900 calories a meal. I will bet dollars to donuts it doesn’t.

            I’m not saying McD’s is healthy. I’m saying eating out anywhere in general is fattening unless you pay a LOT of attention or pay a LOT of money (like 5x or more than the price of fast food). Especially downed with a non-diet soda!

            Tuna salad sandwich: 584 Calories

            6 Fishsticks: 456 Calories

            Two pizza rolls: 770 Calories

            2 Burritos: 632 Calories

            2 chicken lettuce wraps: 1260 Calories

            Caesar salad wrap (no chicken: 170 (salad and dressing) + 210 (wrap) = 380 Calories

            Big Mac: 540 Calories

            Quarter Pounder: 510 Calories

            Medium Fries: 380 Calories

            • ChuckECheese says:

              More over serious, over literalists on here I see. The pizza rolls were meant as a joke. Tuna salad can be made without mayo and can be far lower in calories than the oozy white stuff you are accustomed to. A salad can be very low cal. Corn tortillas (for the tuna) are low in fat and calories. So, no, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Why would you trot out standardized fast-food based nutritional analyses? I’m not talking about existing Taco Bell recipes, I’m talking about creating new ones. These recipes need to be redone to be lower in calories and fat, and my original post made that point, that one would need healthier fillings. It is the lack of these healthier preparations that make healthier fast-food restaurants such a problem – fast food managers don’t know how to cook and the preparations aren’t available premade, ready to heat, assemble and serve. But they could be, given the right prep and distro system.

              Regarding taste, that is always a problem when transitioning to a healthier diet. Nothing ever tastes the same or as “good” as a double cheeseburger, fries and a coke. You have to deliberately, through practice, reaccustom your tastebuds to new flavors and textures. This IMO is a big reason why people give up healthier diets – it doesn’t taste the same, and the novelty is off-putting and the hunger pangs annoying. Much has been written on how the combo of high salt and fat restaurant foods have drug-like effects on the body, which lighter foods don’t have. A fish salad taco made with a light dressing and shredded cabbage and other vegetables tastes nothing like a burger, and it won’t. I notice how you skipped over my spring roll salads. They’re tasty and very portable, which is a problem with fast food salads – they don’t work well for the fast-food style of eating.

      • dolemite says:

        As food options become healthier, they becomes more expensive. McDonalds, Wendies, etc might have some healthy options, but is their $6-$7 salad (which is composed mostly of water, isn’t as filling, and doesn’t taste as good as a burger) really a better deal then 2 double cheeseburgers, fries and a drink for $4?

        • Outrun1986 says:

          You are getting some vegetables there, but as you say the lettuce is mostly filler, and if you tack on bacon and breaded chicken which is in some of those salads plus a ton of HFCS laden dressing its not much better for you than the burger. Now if you get grilled chicken with light dressing that is different but sometimes its hard to find something other than regular dressing.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      The big issue with ‘healthy’ food is distribution and preparation. The distribution of most healthy foodstuffs, aka fruits and vegetables and whole grains, is mostly as whole, minimally processed commodities – aka crates of vegetables, bags of grains. There aren’t as many mass-produced wholesome foodstuffs in distribution as there are beef patties, pies, french frys – things ready for a quick cook and serve. This means that all these kinds of foods will need to be processed in-house or close to it, which is labor intensive and consequently expensive. I’m sure mega-nutritionists like Dr Nestle have discussed this topic at length.

      • NewsMuncher says:

        Things ready to quickly cook and serve — and that can be frozen or stored for longer periods of time, allowing a food business to absorb fluctuations in business from day to day and week to week instead of having to throw out a bunch of food everyday.
        I’ve seen some scary looking greens at Subways in areas that would never support a Souplantation. But in areas that are keen on their greens, having a wilted salad probably means more.

  8. rmorin says:

    1. Businesses go where they will be supported. If healthy, locally owned places would be supported financially, they would go there too, if not they would not survive anyway.

    2. PCRM is LITERALLY a front for PETA, and the vast majority of members are not in fact doctors, but instead vegan activists.

    • Pibbs says:

      Why would we be surprised that a group dedicated to Vegan Diets and fanatical (and irrational) hatred of all things that come of animal testing would be against fast food restaurants?

      • rmorin says:

        I hate to give the clowns at PCRM any press. They have the most innocent sounding name, but are radical vegans funded by PETA, which itself is a largely radical organization.

        PCRM and PETA are not looking for the humane treatment of animals, they are behind a radical idea that animals should not be used AT ALL for food, medicine, or even as pets. Millions of people are alive because of animal tested or derived medicines, but PETA (and their derivativeness like PCRM) fail to see the benefit.

  9. backinpgh says:

    I moved from Detroit last year, so I know about this first hand. I had to drive 15 miles to get to a Trader Joe, 10 miles to a Kroger to get decent groceries. Most residents of the city would purchase their weekly groceries at CVS or Walgreens, meaning they ate mostly boxes of mac and cheese and other highly processed foods, and barely any fresh foods. Since many residents did not own cars, and the public transportation system was atrocious, they were very limited with choices. The few locally owned grocery stores in town has disgusting produce sections and very high prices on anything remotely healthy.

    Luckily they started accepting food stamps at the huge and awesome Eastern Market but the program was definitely underutilized…there has to be a lot of education and lifestyle change along with any type of legislation.

    • Cameraman says:

      Sounds like the obvious solution is for Detroit to do everything in its power to lure big grocery/supermarket chains back. Maybe some kind of tax break is in order?

      • pop top says:

        Well it doesn’t help that people would shoplift the everloving fuck out of whatever store is brought in.

        • Platypi {Redacted} says:

          Easy, just add receipt checkers!

          (end sarcasm)

          • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

            …and seeing as you’re in Detroit, those receipt checkers better be armed to the teeth. Why not just put an end to the misery that is Detroit and drop a few bombs on it? It would probably be an improvement considering!

    • Hi_Hello says:

      When I was a kid. My mom had no car. We walked 15 miles to a supermarket. Loaded in the little cart thinggie. Anything that didn’t fit, I had to carry. Some of the bags were heavy since we stock up when we went.

      She lost a lot of carts growing up(wheel falls off from the weight). When I got order, my mom stop buying carts and just carried everything. I helped with most of the items as I got stronger and she got older. I always wonder why she didn’t use a shopping cart all the way… didn’t know bum were stealing them at the time.

      People are just lazy. If they walked to a nearby Wendy’s, eat and walk back, I bet their healthy would be better.

    • balthisar says:

      I didn’t even know there was a Trader Joe in the SE Market.

      I live in the suburbs, and I actually drive into Detroit (yes, Detroit, the city proper) to get the vast majority of my groceries. Mexicantown has several huge grocery stores, and the produce prices are much, much cheaper than I can get in Macomb county. Sure, when I’m laxy I’ll go to Nino Salvaggio’s on M-59, but $4.99/lb for tomatillos gets expensive really fast.

      • Saltillopunk says:

        I’ve been to that Nino’s and have purchased tomatillos many times. The price I paid was $1.99 per pound. I recall the price being around $4.99 per pound a few years ago. It might be coincidence, but it dropped to $1.99 after my wife and pointed out that was the price being charged at some nearby competitors. Admittedly it has been a couple of months since I last purchased some at that location. So maybe the price has increased. All in all, I don’t think their prices are as overly high as you are making them out to be.

        • balthisar says:

          Like all produce, I’m sure pricing is subject to seasonal variation. That’s just an example of one case of sticker shock (and thanks for confirming!).

          “Saltillopunk” — why the “Saltillo”?

  10. stevied says:


    It is easy/cheap to be opposed to something and want laws changed than to actually spend your $ in support of something that might not be profitable.

  11. pop top says:

    This is happening in many cities, but Detroit is just a nice, high-profile target. Google “food deserts” if you want to learn more about it.

  12. rev_matt_y says:

    I’m most surprised that there are no grocery options and yet they’re only number 4 in heart disease rates. That’s impressive for them and truly embarrassing for cities 1,2, and 3.

  13. PunditGuy says:

    I understand the food desert concept, and I agree that the lack of a national chain is probably not optimal. However, the lack of a national chain doesn’t mean that there aren’t options — and the options aren’t all bad ones:


    • loaki says:

      The problem with your map is that when actually looked at, MOST of those options are outside city limits. Detroit is large in population, and also in square mileage. Grosse Pointe, Dearborn, Hamtramck, Warren…none of those are really viable grocery shopping options for a majority of Detroit residents.

      Also, it’s been stated before, but I’ll echo the sentiment: The good stores don’t last because they are constantly being robbed. It’s not worth doing business in the city.

    • backinpgh says:

      The locally owned grocery stores in Detroit are disgusting and sell overpriced, old, low-quality spoiled produce and fresh foods. I’ve been in most of them.

  14. Southern says:

    As if Detroit doesn’t already have ENOUGH problems. Lets turn away a viable tax source for the city! Yay!

    • denros says:

      “Detroit currently has the fourth-highest rate of heart disease in the country and a 2007 study stated that “unless access to healthy food greatly improves, residents will continue to have greater rates of premature illness and death.”

      Right, so all those extra public health problems don’t have ANY effect on the tax base…

    • Bongo25 says:

      Haha, that’s funny that you think international corporations that run fast food restaurants are providing useful tax dollars to Detroit or even the federal government. Someone needs to look up how much giant corporations pay in actual taxes and where they pay them.

    • Saltillopunk says:

      Actually, the taxes in Detroit may be one of the reasons the chains don’t want to set up shop there. An article in the Sunday paper pointed out how taxes in Detroit are higher than the surrounding suburbs which in effect drives away businesses. Unfortunately it didn’t indicate if the city government is looking into how to solve this problem.

  15. Hi_Hello says:

    I dunno.. if they really want more healthy food place to pop up, why can’t they just open some?? And if people really want the food, they would be able to stay in business.

    I read about some small company driving with an ice cream trunk full of fruit and vegetables. Do the PCRM ppl drive around in ice cream trunk with fruit and vegetables??

    Oh maybe they got better things to do rather than take actions.

    I want an apple right now…

  16. The Marionette says:

    Um…. so they want to keep out fast food (for health reasons) and want other dine-in restaurants (which don’t exactly have the healthiest menus themselves)? Ok, too bad logic doesn’t exist here.

  17. ARP says:

    Food deserts are a problem in many areas. But the solution isn’t banning Fast Food. The solution is to encourage grocery stores into the area. The PCRM could use their money and muscle and open a grocery store, co-op, etc. in some of the worst areas.

  18. aloria says:

    I would like a decent independent coffee shop within walking distance of my condo. Get to it, PCRM.

  19. dush says:

    They do have grocery stores though right? So there is choice.

  20. JulesNoctambule says:

    Too bad they won’t devote as much energy to the socioeconomic problems in the city that create conditions where fast-food restaurants thrive as they do toward food-policing certain diets.

  21. Straspey says:

    Imagine if you lived in a neighborhood where the only options were green grocers, health-food stores, supermarkets which stocked fresh fruits, vegetables and fresh meats & poultry which you had to cook yourself – and a fresh fish market.

    Now imagine the nearest fast-food outlets were no less than three miles from where you lived.

    Imagine that…

  22. bdgbill says:

    If there was a demand for healthy food in Detroit, there would be places selling it. Every city has exactly as many fast food joints as it’s population can keep alive.

    Moreover, Detroit is in no position to tell anyone willing to build and open new businesses in the city to stop doing so.

  23. Megalomania says:


    Please do some background investigation before posting this type of story. The PCRM is a group that is a) closely tied to PETA, b) overwhelmingly composed of people who are not physicians and c) devoted not to the betterment of human health but to stopping animal testing and advocating the vegan lifestyle.

    While this goal may seem reasonable – the entire reason they chose to promote it – it is ultimately related to that the fast food chains they seek to have stopped serve meat. These people are disgusting hypocrites who are only too happy to lie if it furthers their agenda. If anyone is interested in finding more fun facts about the PCRM, there are a plethora of pages devoted to their usually farcical attempts at promoting their agendas, but below is a good place to start.


    • Bongo25 says:

      If anyone wants to actually be informed, they aren’t going to “activistcash.com” which is hilariously a site that lies about activists while claiming all sorts of activist groups are anti-consumer. I dunno, I’d think that checking who funds activistcash (it’s a bunch of huge restaurant groups, Phillip Morris, etc…) would enlighten you fairly quickly on their goals and who’s really anti-consumer.

      I know when I think of organizations I can trust, it’s Phillip Morris and fast food corporations, certainly ones that haven’t set up fake front groups based around lies before!

      It’s so transparent and yet people fall for it so often. Telling people to do some background investigation when you sorely need to do your own is pretty funny.

      • Bongo25 says:
      • Megalomania says:

        I apologize for not checking the veracity of that source on all other issues; they are, however, dead right on PCRM. If you are going to try to deny that PCRM is a front organization for PETA that is more focused on preventing animal testing than promoting sound medicine, then you are purely misinformed.

        Just because someone may have ulterior reasons to say something does not mean everything they say is a lie. A campaign to promote healthier options is not wrong simply because PETA or their front organizations found it, and neither is a site that points out the connections in front organizations of those who oppose its funders.

        At any rate, if you honestly believe that the PCRM is a reasonable source, please look at the “research” section of their website and ask yourself if it is becoming of an organization allegedly composed of physicians to take it upon themselves to spend – apparently – at least 90% of their time “researching” that animal testing should be stopped.

    • rmorin says:

      Activist Cash is a poor source, but the sentiments of Megalomania are true in that PCRM is simply a pro-vegan activist group, that is largely comprised of non-physicians, and is just doing this to further a vegan agenda, not helping food desert situations.

  24. Kate says:

    In our area (Sacramento) the activists set up farmer’s markets in the food desert areas. Seems a much better way to help.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      I live in downtown Phoenix. We don’t have grocery stores near the city center. But we do now have a two-days-a-week farmer’s market, full of overpriced boutique meat and vegetables, odd prepared foods (lavender lemonade anyone? chili peanut brittle?), and other extremely overpriced foodstuffs ($12 prepared meals, $7 loaves of whole wheat bread, $8 jars of salsa). the place is overrun, as another Consumerist poster mentioned about farmers’ markets, with hipsters and lesbian parents, and it doesn’t really solve the problems of food deserts. The goal needs to be accessibility and affordability and normalcy.

  25. DGC says:

    BFD. Just another organization with no other purpose than to put out press releases calling on someone to do something they know full well isn’t going to happen.

  26. shthar says:

    Now I see this as good news.

    Someone actually wants to start a bizness in detroit!

  27. gman863 says:

    Given the mass exodus of people out of Dirty-riot, why would any fast food place want to build there in the first place?

    New slogan for Detroit: “Just like New Orleans except our citizens don’t need a hurricane as an excuse to evacuate and relocate”.