Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Because You Don't Win Friends With Salad

A new study has found that when eating out and presented with a variety of side options (Fries, baked potato, salad) people opted for the fries more often than the salad.

The study was based on 100 college students who were presented with two different menus. When presented with the option of choosing the salad, they took fries instead.

This is a pretty big deal in terms of research because it flies in the face of the years of previous commentary from people that healthier choices are what's needed on menus. Hell, even McDonald’s has yogurt parfaits and apple slices now! Clearly the complaining has worked to get healthier options on the menu. But what these researchers are showing is that it doesn’t matter; people still choose crap.

There is a lot that can be chalked up for this. North America is a glutton society that loves its shit food. We should eat healthier but we don’t because we’re lazy, unmotivated, etc. Some people think that “healthy food doesn’t taste as good as nuggets and fries” hence their choices. And truthfully, if the words “healthy” always result in salad, then you can’t really blame people. It’s not really a choice. It’s either PICK ONE OF TEN AMAZING THINGS or SALAD. Maybe a variety of healthy food choices that don’t involve simply adding different types of salad is an option?

But I also think that it’s much simpler than that. In my opinion, when people go somewhere that sells “fries, chicken nuggets and baked potatoes” they’re not eating out to be healthy. They’re eating out for a “treat”; nobody goes to Wendy’s (which is a prime example of this type of menu) for salad. I say this as someone who loves the Wendy’s chicken salad and is terrified of their burgers. But I know that I’m not most people and I get that.

The people in this study were just presented menus and said “What would you prefer to eat?” When people choose to hit up Wendy’s or McDonald’s, it’s usually because they’re jonesing for a Bacon Mushroom Melt or a Big Mac, not chicken salad. If you wanted decent chicken salad, you’d go somewhere that specializes in chicken salad. Wendy’s is not this place.

Now if you have no choice in the matter, like you’re on a road trip for instance then you might be grossed out with so much take-out and choose the salad and apple juice choice. But the people in the study possibly hadn’t had take-out in a while and were thinking “Mmm… that’d be a nice treat”.

See what I’m getting at?

If you’re hitting up fast food, then you’re craving some fast food, something that you either wouldn’t or couldn’t make at home. The problem that I see, is if people always choose the shittier option, everyday. The key to fast food is not to demonize the stuff but to view it in moderation.

I went to McDonald’s as a kid and turned out okay. Why? Because it was a “treat”. We got a Happy Meal, we played in the ballroom; it was swell. If my parents had brought my ass there three times a week, different story.

And who knows? We’re dealing with 100 college kids here. They were probably recovering from 4/20 and were thinking FRENCH FRIES before the study had even started. It’s not impossible.

**A nice unhealthy donut to whomever can reference the blog title


Making !T Work said...

Love your posts..........

Anonymous said...

Title from The Simpsons, when Lisa becomes a vegetarian.

David Abstract said...

From "The Simpsons" episode "Lisa the Vegetarian" feat. Paul and Linda McCartney.

"You don't win friends with salad" was a Homer line, which Bart turned into an impromptu conga.

I've already had lots of donuts this week ;-)