It has been all over the news. McDonald’s is going to begin adding…and promoting healthy food, doing their part to stem the tide of obesity and disease that is quietly stealing our future.
For the past thirty years, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, researchers have accumulated a boatload of research to back up what mothers have been saying for generations…eat your vegetables. Over those same years, fast foods encouraged that axiom with fries and ketchup.
But times are changing and under pressure to provide healthier food options, McDonald’s announced that it would no longer market some of its less nutritional options to our kids. It also plans to include fruit and veggie side dishes in many of its adult meal options.
Before you slide into McNirvana at the thought of this fast food giant going healthy, there’s a catch; not a big one, but a catch nonetheless. The healthy food push will happen in twenty of its biggest markets, in only half the restaurants in those markets. It will be about three years before it kicks in. And chain wide? Healthy food options will not be available until at least 2020.
The company says the process is taking so long so they can ensure access to enough produce. McDonald’s is one of the greatest purchasing powers in the world and they are worried they won’t have access to vegetables? As the single largest purchaser of apples and in the top five purchasers of grape tomatoes and spring mix in the United States, why wouldn’t they use that tremendous power and implement this wonderful idea as soon as possible?
We all know how much trouble our modern society is in, with lifestyle diseases at epidemic levels, stealing our kids’ futures. We know that kids love McDonald’s and would probably eat just about anything in a Happy Meal package.
Teaming up with the Clinton Foundation’s campaigns to reduce childhood obesity creates a win-win situation and as near to guaranteed success as we can expect from a campaign for healthy eating. As part of the chains’ efforts to woo back the affections of the millennials who have abandoned the Golden Arches for the seemingly healthier menu options at casual dining spots like Subway, Panera Bread and Chipotle, this could be their ticket.
Unveiling this plan recently at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, former President Clinton spoke about the need for a countrywide effort to save the health of our children in a press release. “If we want to curb the catastrophic economic and health implications of obesity across the world, we need more companies to follow McDonald’s lead and step up to the plate and make meaningful changes.”
This move by McDonald’s, which may cost the chain about $35 million when all is said and done is just one more step in changing its image as it struggles to respond to nutritionists, health advocates and other experts who criticize the fat and calorie content of most the food they sell.
“We’ve been trying to optimize our menu with more fruits and vegetables and giving customers additional choices when they come to McDonald’s,” said Don Thompson, McDonald’s chief executive, summing up the pairing with the Clinton Foundation and the demand for healthy food by mainstream America.
McDonald’s says these new fruit and vegetable offerings are in response to healthy eating trends overall, but some people are skeptical. Is it too little, too late in the ongoing battle against obesity and disease that plagues this country? With the healthy options not being available in the test markets for three years and chain wide until at least 2020, I would venture to ask why it’s taking so long to get this critical change done?
A change like this goes a long way to promoting good will among the people who have moved to healthier eating at other fast food chains. Wendy’s offers salads; Burger King has a veggie burger and the roll-out of their new ‘Satisfries,’ as the latest salvo in the healthy junk food wars. McDonald’s needs to step up to the plate with the next great idea that marries convenience with healthy eating.
If it was up to me, I would turn the buying and public relations power that has made McDonald’s…well, McDonald’s and use that power for the good of American health. Imagine the impact this powerhouse of pop culture influence could have. They could be instrumental in changing the course of disease that could destroy our kids’ future.
I know what you’re thinking. This is McDonald’s; the home of the Big Mac and Egg McMuffin. Do we really think they want to work toward making Americans healthier? Why wouldn’t they? In a marketplace that sees Pizzeria Uno jump on the band wagon of healthier menu choices by adding organic whole grains and vegan options, McDonald’s doesn’t care to be left in the dust.
Nor should they, with their influence over our youth. It’s one thing for a harried mother to plead with her kids to eat veggies and fruit. And quite another for Ronald McDonald to say the same thing.
So I am asking you, McDonald’s, why wait three years to implement this test in various markets? Our kids and families need healthy options now. And why not from the fast food restaurant that has come to symbolize our modern American lifestyle? Why not be instrumental in changing that lifestyle to be one that well…supports life?