I’ll just go ahead and state the obvious here: McDonald’s is not the most nutritious option. The most nutritious meal that you can serve your family is one that is well balanced, probably follows the tenets of USDA’s My Plate and it might involve Super Foods such as salmon, eggs, quinoa and the like. The ideal nutritious meal, if you’re lucky, is served at home and not at fast food joints.
So, what is the biggest fast food chain doing touting nutrition? Well, that’s what I’m trying to find out. Today, along with some of my fellow NJ/NY bloggers, I’m attending a press event that is announcing McDonald’s New York Metro Nutrition Network Launch.
Last year, the company pledged their commitment to offer “improved nutrition choices.” Their longterm plan involves menu evolution and nutrition awareness communication.
When I was invited to participate in this media event, what piqued my interest wasn’t the promise of a tray full of Shamrock Shakes, but instead, the opportunity to connect with representatives to get answers. My journalism background has me itching to learn their side of the story, beyond a press release. I need to hear in-person their stance on Pink Slime, GMO and additives that may or may not be added to some of their “healthier” options. Why still offer sodas as an option for the Happy Meal? And how about offer a salad on the Dollar Menu? I often write about ideas on how to make healthier decisions, which includes food choices. So, it probably seems hypocritical that I even agreed to participate in this media event that involves fast food. Plain and simple: I need to find answers.
Never say never
Awhile back, a blogging friend once asked me why I didn’t attend a past McDonald’s event. I guffawed and insisted that I’d probably never attend one of those events because I try to focus on healthier alternatives. Never say never…
I’ll admit, I love McDonald’s free wifi and the enclosed playground that kept the kid and me somewhat sane this winter. We’d eat a homecooked lunch and then go to McDonald’s for a treat and play on the playground. I’d usually have a coffee or one of their cafes; he’d have a milk and a sundae. There are days though, where I just don’t have time to comb my hair, nevermind plan dinner or have the energy to make it. We are a one-car family in the suburbs, and I’m no magician. I’m human. And that’s where fast food saves the day. It’s clearly not the healthiest option, but we indulge anyway. As I reinforce to my older kid, fake food is the processed stuff and real food is the stuff you get at home.
So many of us are lucky enough to have many options to eat healthy foods at home, and sometimes at school or work. Sadly, as I’ve seen in neighboring towns, some families don’t have those options. Author and TV personality, Tanya Zuckerbrot, M.S., R.D. is expected to be onhand to share insight at today’s event, and I hope to share some info. that may help families with less options make better decisions.
While preparing for this McDonald’s assignment, I researched and read (and re-read) these helpful articles.
McDonald’s Stops Using Pink Slime Seattle PI, 2/1/12
McDonald’s Healthier Happy Meals Still Unhealthy, The Atlantic, 7/11 (this is a must-read)
McDonalds release on Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choices 7/11
Happy Meal Makeover, NYT 7/11
Beyond burgers and Happy Meals, I’m most excited about the Nutrition Network, the community outreach initiative that McDonald’s New York is launching. This new community outreach initiative will award grants to local organizations in the tri state area for grassroots nutrition programs.
I’ll be back with my findings. Until then, be sure to follow our tweets on the Twitter, under #McDNN.