Food Fight: Loma Linda's Seventh-Day Adventists Outraged Over McDonald's

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Caught in the middle between the health food advocates and the burger eating population, as well as the land developers and those who welcome business growth, is Loma Linda Mayor Rhodes Rigsby.

A Seventh-Day Adventist and a physician himself, Rigsby says he has the desire to promote health, but doesn't feel limiting food choices is an appropriate mandate.

"I don't think it's the government's responsibility, personally, to legislate vegetarianism; I think if everyone became a vegetarian they would probably have a healthier life, but it has to be their choice," he said.

"I would hate to go to a town where vegetables are outlawed because the majority are meat and potato carnivores," he continued, "to me that doesn't make sense either way; I think people should have options."

Dysinger admitted, "I agree that we don't want to legislate health, but on the other hand, we can create healthy environments or we can be oblivious to healthy environments. I believe we have to do everything we can to create a healthy environment."

Mayor Rigsby said that if the citizens of Loma Linda want to ban further fast food development, a ballot initiative enabling residents to vote on the issue might be an acceptable approach going forward.

The small city is a particularly unusual battleground, considering the first McDonald's opened in 1940, just five miles away in the town of San Bernardino. Now the country's most iconic fast food chain has over 33,000 locations worldwide in 199 countries around the globe.

Even though Loma Linda's city council approved the McDonald's development, the residents who are fighting it say it's not a done deal yet. Dysinger said there is enough community opposition that he believes the council will want to reconsider their decision.

"We're continuing to work on this with the developer directly," he said. "We have other restaurants that we feel would be much healthier than McDonald's that we'd like to bring in…we'll do what we can to not have McDonald's in Loma Linda."

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