Getting away from it all: The McFarthest place in the U.S.

mcdonaldsMy best friend lives out on the rolling plains of South Dakota in a place that seems far from everywhere. I have visited him there once and long to go back there again. I tell people he’s a real-life cowboy because he ranches with his brother-in-law and often the mode of transportation is a horse. I like that one of the nearest towns is called Faith, because you have to have a lot of it to live so far away from the “modern” conveniences.

That’s why I had a smile when I came across this post by Stephen Von Worley where, while lamenting the spread of the strip mall to the country, he plots the point in the United States that is the most-distant from a McDonald’s. Why McDonald’s? Well, Worley puts it well when he says: “To gauge the creep of cookie-cutter commercialism, there’s no better barometer than McDonald’s – ubiquitous fast food chain and inaugural megacorporate colonizer of small towns nationwide.”

Using data from AggData, which is cool site in itself, he came up with the answer: the rolling plains of Northwest South Dakota.

When I saw this, I was amused because it is the neighborhood of my cowboy friend. If there was ever a place (in the U.S., that is) you could say you were getting away from it all, it would be where he lives. This is where he calls home:

I can testify that you can survive without a McDonald’s down the street. I know, I’ve talked to him from time to time and he’s quite normal. I’ve never heard anyone say they can’t live without McDonald’s, but the point is that there is more to life then what we consider “modern conveniences.”

Hold the tomatoes

Roma TomatoesThis is news that my daughter will applaud:

OAK BROOK, Ill. (AP) — McDonald’s said Monday it has stopped serving sliced tomatoes in its U.S. restaurants over concerns about salmonella food poisoning linked to some uncooked varieties.

This could be bad news for BLT lovers out there:

Restaurants, fast-food chains and supermarkets across Southern California removed fresh red Roma, plum and red round tomatoes from their shelves and took them off their menus this weekend as the U.S. government warned of a widening outbreak of salmonella.

The Food and Drug Administration said consumers should avoid raw red plum, red Roma or round red tomatoes, which have been tied to 145 infections reported since mid-April.

Consumers may continue to eat cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, tomatoes sold with the vine still attached and tomatoes grown at home, the FDA statement said.

Major supermarket chains including Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons have stopped selling the three kinds on the FDA list. Other types of tomatoes remained for sale, said Brian Dowling, a vice president of public affairs for Vons owner Safeway, based in Pleasanton, Calif. “It’s a precaution.”