08 November 2007

this is what i get for being lazy

Last night, I was having an I-don't-feel-so-great, making-dinner-is-such-a-chore, let's-eat-out kind of night. We had some errands to run, so we decided to get some fast food while we were in the commercial area. Now, you should know I'm incredibly anti-fast food. I hate it, I think most of it is disgusting both in taste and nutrition, and I think the mass-producing factory farms that supply them are immoral and terrible for the environment and soulless. I'm proud to say that we rarely, rarely feed our kids fast food -- usually only when we're travelling and there aren't many options.

With that out of the way, I have to admit that I will, occasionally, eat fast food, because as much as I wish I were, I am not (yet) perfect.

So last night we ate at Burger King, and the kids were in seventh heaven what with the strawberry applesauce and the Viva Pinata toys. I thought, eh, once every few months won't hurt 'em.

Then, this morning on Slashfood (these people should start paying me to promote them, it seems I've linked to them twelve times in the last week alone), I saw this link: The 88 Fast Food Items Most Likely to Kill You. I started to panic -- what was I doing to my kids, just because I didn't want to cook for one night?!

The list is based only on trans fat content, and luckily none of the items we ate last night was on the list. But this 88-item list includes only fast food items (from an extensive list of restaurants) that contain 4 or more grams of trans fat. So we probably did consume trans fats last night, just not in the obscene amounts of some of the foods on this list. I could write more about the evils of trans fat, but follow the link above and read for yourself.

What really gets me, thinking back to last night, was that almost everyone we saw at Burger King last night had kids with the. Fast food are among the most unhealthy foods you can eat, short of just eating sticks of butter or guzzling sugar, yet they are the cheapest, easiest foods to feed to kids, and incredibly popular with kids.

All of this is just strengthening my resolve to never eat fast food again. I make a better burger than Burger King anyway.


Jessica said...

We generally don't eat fast food either, but I have to say that while on our trip to NY this summer, we were very impressed with how fast food restaurants are trying to offer healthier options. We ate baked potatoes, surprisingly fresh and yummy salads with GREENS instead of white iceberg, sandwiches on fancy ciabatta bread, and apple dippers with nuts, yogurt, etc. Truthfully, when we eat fast food, it's probably not much better OR worse than what we eat at home on a regular day (minus the milk shakes, I am such a sucker for those). It depends a lot on what you order. Or at least, that's how I justify it!

Jessica said...

Sorry, one more comment -- I followed your slashfood link and realized why I maybe have a rosy view of fast food. We eat mostly at Wendy's, which didn't make the list (or occasionally Arby's, which made it 3 times). We never have eaten at Jack-n-the-Box or White Castle, which was on the list a LOT.

Emily said...

Good for you....actually caring that your kids develop healthy eating habits while their young. As a former teacher, I can tell you that our schools don't care, so it is totally up to the parents these days!

kim said...

Like Jessica, I've been surprised by the healthy options offered on the rare occasions we go out for fast food. On one of the few occasions we've gone to McDonald's, Molly's had a ham sandwich and mandarin oranges (and no Happy Meal, so she doesn't start to associate the crappy food with crappy toys!).

One tip I learned from another mom that might help you - we've occasionally gone out to eat at the mall food court. True, the ambiance is lacking, but there are many cheap and fast options for food in one place, most of which are healthier than Burger King or McDonald's. At our food court, we have a Subway for a healthy option; I'd guess every food court in the world has some kind of pizza or Chinese food that is not completely unhealthy for fast food.

You just have to love a corporate food system and a federal farm bill that makes fast food cheaper than healthy alternatives.

Heidi said...

Jessica and Kim, I have noticed healthier items on fast food menus -- I was really glad my boys had the option of applesauce instead of fries the other night, for instance. But it annoys me that if I just want a burger -- which doesn't have to be unhealthy -- I'm going to be consuming crap no matter which burger I choose.

Also, Kim, I was really surprised to look at Subway's nutrition information, considering their marketing and reputation as healthier fast food. Not only do they have some items with trans fats, but it's just as easy to get a 600-calorie sandwich at Subway as it is at Burger King.

Emily, don't even get me started on school lunches. I already start panicking, envisioning what my kids might eat at school some day. I'm going to make them brown bag it for as long as they'll let me, but I'm having trouble accepting that one day it will be out of my hands.

Ha, Kim, I could write a whole blog on the corporate food industry and the farm bill but it would it's simpler to recommend that everyone read Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation (which I know you've read, anyway) or one of my favorite blogs, The Cleaner Plate Club, which covers a lot of those issues too.