But McDonald’s can’t really change and still be McDonald’s. In the United States today, you can sell meals for a dollar or you can sell nutritious meals. Doing both on a large scale is not possible. Besides, millions of Americans rely on the kind of cheap food they get at chain restaurants. It may not meet a nutritional ideal, but they often have no choice.
Earlier this year, McDonald’s announced that it would no longer sell chickens that had been raised on human antibiotics. The decision had been expected and, clearly, it was made to appeal to the same people who have started to eat at places like Chipotle and Shake Shack. But the effect was powerful nonetheless. Costco, which sells millions of rotisserie chickens, followed suit within days. Soon after the announcement, Tyson Foods, the country’s largest processor of chicken and a major supplier to McDonald’s, also announced that it would stop using human antibiotics to raise chickens in its U.S. operations by September of 2017. In theory, McDonald’s has the power to fundamentally alter the food system; for instance, along with other large chains, the company could truly embrace nutritious dishes—making them the default meal rather than something you can find if you look hard enough. When Walmart and Costco, for example, became two of the nation’s biggest purveyors of organic produce, they sent a signal to thousands of farmers that there would be a large market for their produce.
And the money will circulate among ourselves, the goods being entirely of our own growth and manufacture.Fourthly, The constant breeders, beside the gain of eight shillings sterling per annum by the sale of their children, will be rid of the charge of maintaining them after the first year.Fifthly, This food would likewise bring great custom to taverns; where the vintners will certainly be so prudent as to procure the best receipts for dressing it to perfection, and consequently have their houses frequented by all the fine gentlemen, who justly value themselves upon their knowledge in good eating: and a skilful cook, who understands how to oblige his guests, will contrive to make it as expensive as they please.Sixthly, This would be a great inducement to marriage, which all wise nations have either encouraged by rewards or enforced by laws and penalties.
According to Dr. Fernand Lambein, a Belgian scientist who coördinates the Cassava Cyanide Diseases and Neurolathyrism Network, occasional consumption of foodstuffs containing ODAP “as one component of an otherwise balanced diet, bears not any risk of toxicity.” Lambein and other experts warn, however, that individuals suffering from malnutrition, stress, and acute hunger are especially sensitive to ODAP, and are thus highly susceptible to the incapacitating effects of lathyrism after ingesting the neurotoxin.
There are pages on nutrition, food groups, the USDA food plate, grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy foods, proteins, healthy choices/daily exercise, and favorite foods.
Taggart told me that for the company to prosper it has to remain nutritionally above reproach. Many of the restaurants that benefit from changing attitudes about food and health, however, fail to meet that standard. There isn’t a single heart-healthy item on the Shake Shack menu. Chipotle, with nineteen hundred locations, is the most successful of the new chains. The company has admirable goals, but, more often than not, meals from Chipotle are high in both saturated fat and calories, and often exceed the recommended daily allowance of sodium.
Nestle, along with most of her colleagues, argues that the fast food consumed at restaurants, often lacking key nutrients and laden with fat, contributes significantly to poor health. “The single most important problem with food in this country is that it is vastly overproduced, and the single most important nutritional problem is obesity,” Nestle said. “These issues are clearly related, and cheap food is a factor in both. Food companies compete fiercely for our food dollars and do everything they can to induce us to eat their products and to eat more food, regardless of the effects on waistlines and health.”
For years, public health officials and food scientists have noted that, as long as gallons of sugary soda and vats of French fries are cheap and readily available, poor eating habits will be hard to change. “In 2012, companies produced enough regular soda to supply every single person in America, regardless of age, with nearly thirty gallons,’’ Marion Nestle wrote in her recently published book “Soda Politics.” Nestle, who is the Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, estimates that five per cent of young children, sixteen per cent of adolescents, and twenty per cent of young adults consume more than five hundred calories a day from soda. Most of those calories are sugars.
And secondly, there being a round million of creatures in human figure throughout this kingdom, whose whole subsistence put into a common stock would leave them in debt two millions of pounds sterling, adding those who are beggars by profession to the bulk of farmers, cottagers, and laborers, with their wives and children who are beggars in effect: I desire those politicians who dislike my overture, and may perhaps be so bold as to attempt an answer, that they will first ask the parents of these mortals, whether they would not at this day think it a great happiness to have been sold for food, at a year old in the manner I prescribe, and thereby have avoided such a perpetual scene of misfortunes as they have since gone through by the oppression of landlords, the impossibility of paying rent without money or trade, the want of common sustenance, with neither house nor clothes to cover them from the inclemencies of the weather, and the most inevitable prospect of entailing the like or greater miseries upon their breed for ever.I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavoring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the public good of my country, by advancing our trade, providing for infants, relieving the poor, and giving some pleasure to the rich.
The company is trying everything it can to win back deserters. Last month, in keeping with prevailing desires and current nutritional wisdom, McDonald’s abandoned margarine for butter. The company announced recently that it would stop selling chickens that have been raised with antibiotics that could affect human health, and milk from cows that had been treated with growth hormones. They introduced low-calorie “artisan grilled chicken” sandwiches and, this month, began serving breakfast all day—fulfilling a request that the Egg McMuffin crowd has been making for years. McDonald’s has also jumped on the seasonal-food bandwagon, having sold about thirty-seven million Cuties, the brand of clementines that come with Happy Meals. The company has even begun to introduce restaurants with digital kiosks, where customers can build their own dishes on a touch screen, then grab a G.P.S. locator, find a seat, and wait until the freshly made product is delivered by a server who has homed in on the signal.
A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends; and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.I have reckoned upon a medium that a child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar year, if tolerably nursed, increaseth to 28 pounds.I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.Infant's flesh will be in season throughout the year, but more plentiful in March, and a little before and after; for we are told by a grave author, an eminent French physician, that fish being a prolific diet, there are more children born in Roman Catholic countries about nine months after Lent than at any other season; therefore, reckoning a year after Lent, the markets will be more glutted than usual, because the number of popish infants is at least three to one in this kingdom: and therefore it will have one other collateral advantage, by lessening the number of papists among us.I have already computed the charge of nursing a beggar's child (in which list I reckon all cottagers, laborers, and four-fifths of the farmers) to be about two shillings per annum, rags included; and I believe no gentleman would repine to give ten shillings for the carcass of a good fat child, which, as I have said, will make four dishes of excellent nutritive meat, when he hath only some particular friend or his own family to dine with him.