Healthy fast food, a concept as realistic as Barbie working at McDonald’s. It’s great in theory. Millions of Americans rely on fast food as the staple of their diet, and obviously suffer the consequences as two thirds of the country is overweight/ obese. They could become more healthy without making major changes to their diet or lifestyle. How nice would that be?
Let’s take a minute to think what they’re really shoving down our throats. How healthy, if at all, is it?
First off, let’s take a look at why fast food eateries, places that pride themselves in their quadruple bacon cheeseburgers, would even want to serve “healthy” food. When you think of McDonald’s and Burger King, classic all American burger places don’t come to mind as it did in the past. Instead, we think of sad, obese adults and sluggish, diabetic children. They’re viewed as more of an evil force than a place to eat. The fast food companies realize this and want to re-brand. They want to make it seem “ok” to go there. “McDonald’s cant be that bad, they sell salad” you tell yourself as you look at the new menu.
Obesity is at an all time high and we place a lot of the blame on fast food. The fast food corporations have scrambled together their new healthy menus as a way to save face, shirk off some of the blame, and if anything, profit off of a national epidemic. They figure, people want to lose weight, but don’t want to change the way they eat? Fine, let’s give them the same menu items, in a different wrapper, with a different name, and tell them it’s healthy.
Recently, an internal memo between McDonald’s execs was leaked. It discussed how Subway is beating them and that they need their new McWrap sandwich line to appeal to the millennial generation, the market that Subway has stolen from them. The millennial generation, those ages 18 through 34, is very different than its predecessors. We grew up with Oprah, Captain Planet, and DARE. We were taught that it’s ok to be different, to talk about our feelings, to be socially/ environmentally conscious, and to care about our health. Subway appeals to millennials, offering “fresh” sandwiches and featuring famous athletes in ads.
The less millennial-friendly fast food joints are attempting to “health wash” their image with manipulative and deceptive semantics. Take for example, McDonald’s new line of healthy menu items. All of the dishes have green wrappers and logos. Why green instead of the traditional yellow and red? Green evokes a sense of health and eco-friendliness. The whole go green movement is considered to be very progressive and McDonald’s wants to play off of it to re-brand the chain as place that is also progressive and health conscious.
Even the tortillas used to make the McWrap sandwiches are green. Just the green tortilla itself is very deceptive. The green color fools the customer into thinking it’s made of vegetables and other healthy ingredients…even though it’s only green food coloring. The fact that it’s a flat bread leads consumers into believing that there are fewer calories in it- Newsflash, there aren’t. It has the same calories, if not more than regular bread. It’s just more dense without the air bubbles to give it volume. The public’s perception of health is being played on to lure us through the golden arches.
As I’ve said before, the whole point of offering a healthier menu is for re-branding, to make it seem ok to visit a McDonald’s. There was no mention of actually selling healthy items. A recent study revealed that while 47% of consumers want healthier options at fast food restaurants, only 23% actually order them. The fast food chains could care less if you actually buy their new “healthy” lines. They just want to increase the chances of you walking in, because while you might have gone to McDonald’s intending to buy a salad, you got the Big Mac instead. I mean, really…did you seriously think you went to McDonald’s for a salad?…You must think you went to that hooker for just a hug.
Would you like fries with that?
It’s important to realize that there’s a difference between healthy and healthier. These new menu items aren’t healthy meals at all, they’re just slightly better, if at all, than the original options. Let’s take a look.
McDonald’s oatmeal seems like a safe bet. It’s oatmeal. There should only be a handful of ingredients: oats, fruit, nuts, and maybe some cream and sugar. Oh, how I wish it were that simple. This “handful” translates into 21 ingredients, most of which are chemical preservatives that I can’t even pronounce. It’s not healthy by any means. Forget all the chemical preservatives, it also has twice the sugar in a snickers bar and only 10 calories less than a cheeseburger. It’s also important to note that oatmeal is something that should be quick, easy, and cheap. A complete buffoon could make it at home in ten minutes and it would cost them barely over a dollar. It takes an average of a half hour to make the trip to McDonald’s and wait in line before you receive it, only to pay double whatit would cost to make yourself. The purest, simplest, healthiest breakfast has been mutated into overpriced junk food.
McDonald’s also offers the bacon chicken McWrap. It looks like a healthy option, just a sandwich with chicken breast, a strip of bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes. Again, not healthy. It has the caloric content of two burgers, but that’s not even the scariest part. Think that’s real chicken breast? Sorry, it’s actually reconstituted rib meat with seasonings and additives shaped into chicken breast. It’s on the same level as the play dough you ate in preschool.
Shocked? It gets worse. Our beloved millennial friendly Subway is also at fault. I always thought there was something amiss about their wheat bread. It didn’t taste as hearty or have the same bulk as all the other wheat breads I’ve eaten. There’s a reason why: it’s NOT REAL whole wheat bread. It’s “enriched” wheat, which is wheat that has had its stalk removed and processed, stripping it of all the fiber and most nutrients. You’re basically left with brown colored white bread. Yes, their wheat bread has some fiber in it, but that’s only because it’s been injected with inulin, a fiber that our bodies don’t process like the natural fibers we’re supposed to have. Lost your appetite? Sorry, but it gets worse again. Ever wonder why their bread tastes so sweet? It’s loaded with high fructose corn syrup. You heard me, high fructose corn syrup…hope you didn’t pair your foot long with a coke.
Recently, the CEO of Carl’s Jr publicly stated that healthy food is not a part of the chain’s “personality.” Many were appalled by this declaration, but I actually applauded him for it. At least he’s being honest and not trying to deceive us.
I don’t think fast food chains are evil. They offer a product and people have a choice whether to buy it or not. However, I don’t appreciate the deception involved in marketing. Then again, what’s marketing without deception? That’s why it is important for us to know more about what goes into our bodies so we can make informed choices when eating. Hopefully, as you read this post and the ones to follow, I can help you look at food and nutrition differently.
Thanks for reading my first post, everyone. There’s more to come and I’m open to any suggestions you have about future topics.