Thursday, October 14, 2010

McDonald’s Happy Meals, Buy One Now, Eat it 6 Months Later

In a horrific display of food preservation, Sally Davies, a photographer and vegetarian, posted her McDonald’s science experiment on Facebook. She took a Happy Meal home six months ago and took pictures of it over time to see if it molded or changed the way we expect food to go rotten. Click here to see pictures.

First off, I have a difficult time believing this story since I’ve seen the changes in a McDonald’s hamburger bun after my 6 year old niece, Sticky Fingers (because she sneaks her fingers in icing when I’m decorating cakes), left part of her unfinished meal on the table for hours. It didn’t mold but it did start to get hard like fresh bread will if left out. Secondly, I’m wondering why the McDonald’s hatred? I don’t work for McDonald’s, I can’t recall the last time I ate there but, I can tell you their McCafé drinks are darn good, their portion sizes for anything not supersized haven’t morphed into linebacker-sized meals and there’s no study to date showing a direct correlation between fast food and the obesity epidemic.

Now I know what you are thinking, what is a dietitian doing defending McDonald’s? Here’s my take on nutrition: I take people where they are and help them make positive changes based on their lifestyle and goals. If I get a client who eats fast food daily because they work, have kids and are going to school and don’t have time to cook, we’ll look at the options available and explore better fast food choices. Though it sounds good on paper, it is completely unrealistic to think that everyone has the time, motivation or desire to buy all organic, local produce and grass-fed beef and make fresh meals every single day. And asking someone to do something they won’t do just sets them up for failure and frustration. Instead, I can direct them to better choices at home, in the grocery store and even at fast food chains (gasp!). Most fast food places have salads, Chick-Fil-A has delicious wraps loaded with vegetables, Wendy’s has the new “Pick 2”.

The choice is yours. You can get a McDonald’s hamburger for cheap, on the fly and just 250 calories while getting some protein and meeting 10% of your calcium needs and 15% of your iron needs. Or, you can go to a “fine” restaurant and blow a good part of your daily calorie budget on a thick, juicy burger and sides. Fast food isn’t making anyone fat but their choices at fast food restaurants, choices in the grocery store and lack of activity are likely to blame.

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