In 2002, McDonald’s closed their last restaurant in Bolivia. The franchise spent millions of dollars in the Latin American country but could not break out of its deficit.
Bolivia has a long tradition of using food as reciprocity. Many relationships are beyond money and companies like McDonald’s go against what the nation believes. Indigenous president Evo Morales called the chain and other American chains a “great harm to humanity,” when addressing the United Nations General Assembly. (Credit)
Bolivians are not interested in food for profit and natives would rather buy food from local street merchants, the indigenous women called cholitas. Tanya Kerssen, research coordinator for the Food First Network, calls this Bolivia’s own “decentralized McDonald’s.” Kerssen told TakePart that Bolivians “look on these foreign entities with suspicion—and rightly so. They prefer to purchase from, to have a relationship with, people from their own country or community or family.”
It is not only in the sale of food that Bolivians choose local: it is also in the farming of local crops – corn, sugar and quinoa. “They look on these foreign entities with suspicion—and rightly so. They prefer to purchase from, to have a relationship with, people from their own country or community or family.” (Credit)
Bolivians expelled the dangers of McDonald’s and have even changed their constitution which included 12 articles based on food sovereignty. Bolivians cherish the people who create their food and shop locally to support the love and commitment that goes in to creating this food.
While shopping locally is becoming more popular, McDonald’s still makes enough in the Western world to stay in Latin American countries for decades without turning a profit. It is not just about getting rid of those golden arches but about finding local markets, restaurants or strip clubs (apparently) and supporting them into success. Maybe there is a lesson to be learned for North American from the Bolivian approach to eating locally, and nutritionally.