Happy Meals Make Me Unhappy

So here’s the deal: I do not just want to rain on the Happy Meals parade.  In general, I am not a huge fan of the majority of American children’s menus… not in the least.  And here’s why:

Is a serving of french fries equivalent to a serving of vegetables?

In this same way, can ketchup count as a serving of fruit?  Children’s menus in America are certainly trying to convince us that they can.  Unfortunately, these food options for kids often lack substantial portions of fruits and vegetables.  Unhealthy fats, sugars, and sodium replace the healthful benefits and bright flavors of fresh herbs.  They are just plain nutritionally deficient.

Besides the fact that these menus are unhealthy, they are also uninventive.  For instance, the typical options go something like this: hamburgers/cheeseburgers, cheese/pepperoni pizza, chicken fingers and french fries, and macaroni and cheese.  In my opinion, these offerings discourage kids from developing a palate.  Rather than trying to expand their culinary horizons, kids eat the same foods, made from the same ingredients (or chemicals) each time they go out to eat with their families.

Do Happy Meals make you unhappy?  Why or why not?  If given the opportunity, how would you take action to change American children’s menus?  Please let me know.

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

Katie 🙂

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So You Want Change?

The majority usually does, yet is appears as if only the minority actually does anything about it.  Take the advocacy group, As You Sow, for example.  Since early March, they have been on the receiving end of publicity in the food world as a result of their appeal to Dunkin’ Donuts concerning titanium dioxide.  This is a whitening agent in the company’s powdered sugar that is sprinkled on various baked goods.  Representatives from As You Sow took action against Dunkin’ Donuts usage of titanium dioxide because they feel as though it is a “nanomaterial” that is damaging to the health of humans who ingest it (Horovitz).

We see the back and forth that occurs between advocacy groups and major companies quite frequently.  However, what I think makes this particular campaign stand out from others similar of its kind is that the announcement that Dunkin’ Donuts will remove titanium dioxide from future products was not made by the company itself.  Instead, As You Sow released a comment about how Dunkin’ Donuts has complied with the objectives that the advocacy group had outlined.  Do you think that Dunkin’ Donuts missed out on a publicity opportunity and a possible platform for health in not being the first to announce this news?  Of course, the Dunkin’ Brands chief communications officer, Karen Raskopf, did mention the following (to USA Today) after the As You Sow announcement, stating: “The ingredient used in our powdered doughnuts does not meet the definition of ‘nanoparticle’ as outlined under FDA guidance.  Nevertheless, we began testing alternative formulations for this product in 2014, and we are in the process of rolling out a solution to the system that does not contain titanium dioxide” (Horovitz).

Later on in the exchange between USA Today and Dunkin’ Donuts, Karen Raskopf went on to affirm that “Dunkin’ Brands understands that investors are increasingly interested in the sustainability of the companies in which they invest. As part of our ongoing stakeholder engagement process, we recognize the importance of engaging in productive, ongoing dialogues with our investors to understand and address their concerns, as appropriate” (Horovitz).

Do you believe that the only way for businesses and brands to survive the current of knowledge that is being driven in waves towards consumers and advocacy groups is to comply with them?  How do you think that advertising and public statements will play a role in the level of leadership that these companies project in the future?  Please let me know!

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

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

Horovitz, Bruce. “Dunkin’ to stop using whitening agent.” USA Today Mar. 2015: Gannett Co. Incorporated, Web. 14 April 2015. <http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/03/06/dunkin-donuts-fast-food-restaurant-food-safety/24524875/>

Pressing Concerns and How to Fix Them – Part Two

Thank you to all who commented on Part One of this series by sharing your thoughts on your three most pressing concerns surrounding the state of our collective nutritional health.  As touched upon in previous posts, here are my top three concerns:

1.  Ignorance disempowers

The entire premise behind “Project Lunchbox: Let’s Eat!” is to teach families about the undeniable link between healthy eating and positive school performance.  To that end, I am committed to instilling in students an appreciation for where food comes from and an understanding of how to read ingredient and nutrition labels, and lastly a recognition of the degree to which the processed food industry dominates American culture.  I stand strong in the conviction that nutritional education should be an integral part of each student’s academic experience, beginning in kindergarten and continuing throughout one’s lifetime.  The science behind the food we eat, the nutritional benefits and detriments of what we ingest, and the countless additives that manufacturers put in food and beverages are in complex, constant, and evolving motion.  The impact that education has on a person is unquantifiable, thereby putting the necessity of mandatory, in-depth nutritional education at the top of my list of concerns.  If I had unlimited resources, time, and money, it’s the first thing that I would take immediate action on in order to improve the collective health of our global society.

2.  Indifference disengages

I feel with every fiber of my being that each individual has the moral obligation to not only live productively in the world, but also to change the world.  One person cannot do it all.  Nevertheless, each person must do something.  The belief that an individual does not possess the power, time, or talent to affect noteworthy change is a fallacy.  Each time you demand to know exactly what you are eating, you petition for your local grocer to stock healthier versions of your favorite foods and beverages, you leave a comment on a legislative website in response to nutritional laws, or question the nutritional norm, you undoubtedly cause at least one other person to question why they themselves haven’t taken such action yet.  Then you inspire them to take the first step.  They’ll probably never tell you the effect that you had on them, but then again, you probably never told anybody about the effect another person had on you.  The chain-reaction of change carries onward.

3.  Detachment deceives

There is an unequal distribution of resources in our society.  This grim fact is evident in our media and our politics.  World hunger plagues some, the obesity epidemic scars others.  It’s one of the ultimate paradoxes of our time: while some people are starving to death, others are literally killing themselves by overeating.  I’d be willing to venture that the majority of the general public innately recognizes this dilemma.  However, it appears as though the majority of the general public is in denial, as their acknowledgment of these challenges is lacking to some degree.  Turning a blind eye to the health problems one area of the world is grappling with does not enable us to grapple with our own in a manner that is any more efficient or productive. Although we all face the same challenges (unequal distribution of resources) these conflicts present themselves in different forms depending upon the area of the world that you reside.  It is only with this understanding that the clarity of expression and the voice of reason will join together to be stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks for our global food system.

As always, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter…

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

Katie 🙂

Happy Easter!

“Easter is the only time of the year when it’s perfectly safe to put all your eggs in one basket.”

-Unknown

I interrupt the series “Pressing Concerns and How to Fix Them” to wish all of you who celebrate a very Happy Easter!  I wish you a peaceful holiday and a vibrant spring.

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

Katie 🙂