Fast Facts on Fast Food… Explained!

Last week’s post included various statistics that demonstrated the depth and breadth of the world’s fascination and borderline addiction to the fast food industry.  The previous post also ended with a question, inquiring as to how these statistics speak to the grip that the fast food industry has on America’s food culture as well as consumers from all over the world.  In truth, the answer to this question is both intricate and complex, and probably cannot be answered in one blog post… (but I’m going to be Miss Optimistic and try my best)!  After you read the information, please don’t hesitate to comment and share your own thoughts/answer a few of the questions below about the fast food industry’s affect on our world.

Is efficiency or quality more important to you?

The fast food industry not only understands our innate desire for efficiency and increased speed, but they are also able to manipulate this craving we have for more time.  The drive-thru is probably the most ingenious manner in which the fast food industry has changed what it means to have a meal on the go.  Interestingly, in the United States alone, there are approximately 200,000 fast food restaurants that offer a drive-thru for their customers.  A consumer has the ability to remain in their car throughout the entire fast food experience, from ordering, to picking-up, to eating their purchased goods.  In thinking about how this changes our eating experience, it certainly seems as though fast food offers us all a “Meal-Free Meal.”  Now it is possible to consume an entire meal without a plate, without silverware, without a table, and most of the time, even without loved ones.  Fast food and its drive-thrus are without a doubt more convenient, yet the concept of fast food sacrifices the quality of the eating experience (Bratskeir).

Does the color blue intensify your appetite or does it detract from it?

The majority of people would respond to the question above by stating that the color blue detracts from their appetite.  The fast food industry is fully aware of this (Ronald McDonald wears a red and yellow suit for a reason)!  Therefore, they tailor each and every one of their marketing campaigns, advertising ploys, and sponsors to revolve around warm colors (reds, oranges, yellows), instead of cool colors (greens, blues, purples) to initially cultivate and then continually intensify a consumer’s desire for their product (Bratskeir).

Are children more vulnerable to fast food advertising methods than adults?

After conducting a study to decipher the quantity of food ads that children watch each day, the Yale Rudd Center has revealed that in 2013, children viewed about 13 food ads daily (Bratskeir).  This is approximately 4,745 food ads per year (Bratskeir)!  Time and time again, the fast food industry proves to have its grip on the pulse of culture (Horovitz).  Probably no better example of this is how the processed food industry has adapted its advertising strategies in order to keep up with the ways in which technology has changed the ways in which we communicate (Horovitz).  What was once a marketing strategy built entirely on television advertisements, the fast food industry has now expanded its advertising grip to social media and the Internet (Horovitz).  In fact, Ronald McDonald has his own website and “Ronaldgrams” (videos, photos, etc.) promote word of mouth information about the happenings in the fast food world (Horovitz).

Do you eat first with your eyes, or do you eat first with your nose?

Regardless of your answer, the fast food industry has made allowances so your eyes can like what they see and your nose can smell something appetizing before you order your meal.  “Aroma marketing” actually intensifies your body’s construction of a chemical called ghrelin which makes you feel hungry, quickly.  At the majority of fast food restaurants, a consumer orders their meal in the front of the store, while simultaneously smelling their food being cooked or fried in ovens or fryers much closer than they may appear.  Furthermore, billboard marketing and the massive expanses of hamburgers, french fries, and milkshakes in advertisements also can often consume your mind, making it difficult to focus on anything but the billboard you just saw (Bratskeir).

I’ve always found consumption to be such a vivid indicator of a culture and its values.  The food and beverages that we choose to consume reveal who we are just as much as the music we listen to, the art we create, and the language we speak.  If we consume fast food to the degree that the statistics suggest, what does this say about what we value as a collective society?

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Bratskeir, Kate. “Six Not-So-Subtle Ways Fast Food Joints Make You Want To Eat At Their Restaurants.” Huffington Post June 2014: TheHuffingtonPost.com Incorporated, Web. 24 Feb. 2015. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/16/fast-food-marketing_n_5366297.html>

Horovitz, Bruce. “Ronald McDonald is reaching out to kids online.” USA Today March 2011: Gannett Co. Incorporated, Web. 24 Feb. 2015. <http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2011-03-31-ronald-mcdonald-goes-digital.htm>

Fast Facts on Fast Food

Did you know that according to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation…

1.  500,000 plus is the total number of fast food chains/restaurants located on this Earth (Fast).

2.  157,000,000 is the number of instances per month that children ranging from the ages of six through fourteen consume food/beverages from fast food chains/restaurants (Fast).

3.  96% is the percentage of school aged children who are able to correctly identify a picture or photo of Ronald McDonald (McDonald’s “mascot”).  Interestingly, Santa Claus was the single individual to be correctly identified by a larger percentage of these same aged school children (Fast).

4.  $100 billion is the total sum of money that the American public spends on food/beverages from fast food chains/restaurants per year (Fast).

How do these statistics speak to the grip that the fast food industry has on America’s food culture as well as consumers from all over the world?

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

“Fast Food.” PAMF. n.d. Palo Alto Medical Foundation, 2015. Web. 17 Feb. 2015. <http://www.pamf.org/teen/health/nutrition/fastfood.html>

Got Snow?

This week’s post is written with my New England blog subscribers in mind.  If you don’t have any more room on your driveway/yard/walkway, etc. to put the snow, don’t worry.  You can start eating it… 🙂  I’m serious!  Below you’ll find two recipes that feature fresh, clean, glimmering, white snow!

1.  Snow “Cream”

I adapted this recipe from the website All Recipes and it’s super simple to make:  First, gather one gallon of fresh, clean snow in a metal bowl (it shouldn’t be too hard to find)!  Next, using a wooden spoon incorporate 1 cup of white granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon of Madagascar vanilla extract, and 2 cups of organic, whole milk.  Eat it immediately after preparing it so it won’t melt!

2.  Sugar On Snow

This brilliant idea/recipe is courtesy of the Harlow’s Sugar House in Putney, Vermont. Has anybody ever visited there?  I haven’t, but after checking out their site, I definitely want to!  The first step is to heat 100 percent pure Maple Syrup (use the grade that you like best).  After that, simply pour the warmed maple syrup onto fresh, clean snow.  As you can imagine, the hot syrup with the cold snow react together, forming a delicious taffy-like snack (Zimmer).

Please be sure to let me know if anybody braves the 6 foot high snowbanks to gather snow for one of these recipes!  Stay strong, New England!

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

MadSavy, L. “Snow Ice Cream II.” All Recipes. All Recipes.com, 2015. Web. 10 Feb. 2015. <http://allrecipes.com/recipe/24944/snow-ice-cream-ii/>

Zimmer, Erin. “Sugar on Snow: Maple Syrup on Snow Snack in Vermont.” Serious Eats. Serious Eats, 2014. Web. 10 Feb. 2015. <http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/04/sugar-on-snow-maple-syrup-on-real-snow-vermont-harlows-sugar-house.html>

Added Sugar “Pseudonyms” and Other Super Sleuth Secrets

As we discussed last week, one teaspoon of sugar consists of four grams.  This week, I’d like to delve deeper into the “who, what, where, why, and how” of added sugars.  I’ve discovered a page on the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity that seamlessly fits in to what we are discussing here!  I’ve highlighted their most important points in this post, but I’ve also included the link below and encourage you to peruse it yourself:

http://www.yaleruddcenter.org/resources/upload/docs/what/policy/SSBtaxes/SSB_AddedSugars.pdf

Who?

They go by a variety of pseudonyms, but each of them have the same full name of “Added Sugars.”  In addition to the list provided last week, here are some other disguises for added sugars to beware of when you’re scanning ingredient labels: barley malt syrup, beet sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, confectioner’s sugar, date sugar, dehydrated cane juice, dextrose, ethyl mall, fruit juice concentrate, honey, maltodextrin, molasses, rice syrup, sorbitol, sorghum syrup, and finally turbinado sugar (Yale).

What?

Consumption of excessive amounts of added sugars can exacerbate present health conditions and put you at risk for future complications.  Besides cardiovascular disease, when added sugars have too much of a presence in your diet, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity, as well as Type 2 Diabetes can follow.  Furthermore, an unbalanced diet of sugars more often than not restricts absorption and allocation of crucial vitamins and minerals (Yale).

Where?

Children and teenagers consume 52% of added sugars via food, and 48% of added sugars via beverages.  It’s not overly surprising that the percentages are balanced due to the fact that the biggest and most menacing product that contains added sugars is soda, at 22.8%.  Here’s a list of foods and beverages and their respective percentages of added sugars: Fruitades and Sport Drinks (7.4%), Energy Drinks (.15%), Sweetened Milk (1.9%), Coffee and Tea (3.9%), Alcoholic Beverages (.36%), Sugars and Syrups (6.3%), Candy and Gum (5.7%), Cakes and Cookies (9.4%), Ready-to-Eat Cereals (3%), Bread and Muffins (3.1%), Dairy Desserts (3.8%), Yogurt (1.1%), and lastly, Other Foods (6.48%) (Yale).

Why?

There’s simply no reason to consume an excessive amount of added sugar.  They offer zero health benefits (only health detriments), and they provide zero nutrients (only empty-calories).  In fact, a single teaspoon of sugar has 16 calories!  This translates to 240-250 calories (15 to 16 teaspoons of sugar) in a 20 ounce bottle of soda!  Yikes (Yale)!

How?

How will this change?  As it stands currently, the average American consumes 16 teaspoons of added sugar per day.  That’s approximately 5,840 additional teaspoons of sugar per year!  Until added sugars are implicitly marked on nutrition labels, it’s up to the consumer to decode the product.  First, scan the ingredient label and see if you recognize any of the ingredients to be added sugars “pseudonyms.”  If you’re still unsure, take an educated guess.  Remember that almost all processed foods contain added sugars while whole foods contain natural sugars (Yale)!

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

Yale Rudd Center. June 2014. n.p. n.d. Web. 3 Feb. 2015. <http://www.yaleruddcenter.org/resources/upload/docs/what/policy/SSBtaxes/SSB_AddedSugars.pdf>