Nonetheless, all of this got me thinking about how I generally feel about fast food, particularly as it relates to the way yours truly currently lives his life. In truth, it's pretty unusual for me to darken the doors of a traditional fast food establishment these days. It's not really a conscious decision that I make each day. Rather, fast food just isn't really part of my daily patterns any more. Again, this is not a value judgement, but rather a simple observation of what I do.
It wasn't always this way as my relationship with fast food has evolved quite a bit over the years...
- The early years: When I was a kid, we didn't go out to a lot of restaurants. My folks were tending to a litter of four kids on the salary of a government scientist. As well, it's important to remember that we were still in Olden Times when I was a kid. In those days, people ate a lot more of their meals at home. For me, fast food was generally equated with McDonalds, which I got to go to about four to five times per year. Each of those visits was a wonderful, glorious occasion filled with Big Mac's, shakes and fries. It's hard to describe how much I loved burping Big Mac's over the hours after a McDonalds trip -- it was like getting to go over and over again during a course of hours (I admit that this is a gross recollection, but I dare you to deny feeling the same way).
- College: Fast food was a constant. These were the years of Super Size gone horribly wrong. I will admit to sometimes stepping up to a double Big Mac order. These were also the years in which I worshiped at the alter of fried chicken (I went to school in NC after all). Bojangles was a particular highlight. There was nothing like fried chicken and a biscuit w/ sausage gravy to erase an evening of beer soaked hijinx.
- Early years of work, up to the day I started at WW: I still hit fast food from time to time, but my menu tended to move to more sit-down-service burger joints. Frankly, these were probably worse, nutritionally speaking, than any of my fast food indulgences.
- The healthier years (i.e., today): As noted, I really don't see a lot of traditional fast food in my life other than the occasional visit during a road trip. It's almost as though the frequency and occasions have returned to what was the case during my early years.
From a broader social perspective, the basic value proposition of fast food is that it is:
- Convenient: fast food is everywhere
- Inexpensive: certainly compared to other dining out options
- Tasty: depending on your taste, they deliver a lot of satisfied taste buds.
My way of handling this kind of temptation is to mentally rehearse my order before I walk into the store. I really don't want to be making my choice on the fly and at the counter -- too much risk of rash decision.
From a societal perspective, I think we can safely say that fast food is here to stay, so we cannot wish it away. Further, I would not discount the value of convenience and price that these outlets provide. My hope is that the big chains will step up and transition their platforms to much more fully embrace healthy choices on their menus, ideally representing 75% or more of what they sell vs. 10 to 20% today. Is this wishful thinking?
|View of the future?|
What I particularly like and admire about the Energy Kitchen is that they are trying to prove that you can sell nutrient dense, energy light food that is also great tasting and convient/fast. I can only hope they these guys find success beyond belief and serve as a role model for the broader restaurant community that good taste, great nutrition, convenience and value can all be part of the same equation.