Tag Archives: McDonalds

LYFE Kitchen

26 Nov

A restaurant serving items like a Farmer’s Market Frittata, Kabocha Squash Risotto, and a Kale-Banana Smoothie typically wouldn’t lead one to assume that it had any type of connection with one of the largest fast food companies in the world. Yet LYFE Kitchen just may be the exception to that rule.

The brainchild of former McDonald’s president and chief operating officer, Mike Roberts, LYFE Kitchen represents the newest addition to the ever-expanding fast food world. Offering both restaurant-style food options as well as some grocery store items, the company strives to “promote sustainability,” working with suppliers that provide healthier and ethically-sourced products. “LYFE” is an acronym for love your food everyday, a message that the company encourages their customers to practice on a daily basis.

Yet, LYFE Kitchen does not simply aim to do well just in the kitchen. They are also committed to helping the general public become more knowledgeable about nutrition. In their words, they are just trying to engage our “Sixth Sense,” or our “intrinsic desire to do what’s right.”

LYFE Kitchen does so by implementing environmentally sound architectural designs for their Ca, sourcing ingredients responsibly, utilizing green packaging for grocery store items, as well as donating a portion of their proceeds to charities that focus on bettering the health, nutrition, and overall wellness of communities through the U.S.

Roberts recognizes the differences between McDonald’s and LYFE Kitchen, yet is grateful for his nearly 30 year stint there. Roberts says, “I had a great experience at McDonald’s. Now I want to bring farmers, growers, and restaurateurs together. That’s what I am about.”

ff_lyfekitchens4_fThe product of two seemingly disparate trends in today’s food world–fast food speed and nutritious sustainability–LYFE Kitchen is all about enjoying food while doing good for both your body and the world. Although there are only two locations in California as of now, the company plans to expand with ten more locations in the next year, in cities like New York and Chicago.

LYFE Kitchen has managed to become an exemplar model of an eco-friendly fast food restaurant. Hopefully, other restaurants of the same structure will strive to be as socially conscious as they are.

For more information about the origins of LYFE Kitchen, read a recent interview with Roberts from Wired magazine.

Photos courtesy of lyfekitchen.com and wired.com

Children and fast food marketing

9 Oct

6319155216_0463fda84aA recent study from the researchers at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Kansas Medical Center suggests that children’s brains may be imprinted with the logos of popular fast food brands.

Using MRI technology, they monitored the brain activity of kids aged 10-14 as images of recognizable logos (some food-related, some not) appeared before them. The study found that the reward processing area and the appetite control area of the brain lit up only when the kids saw fast food logos.

Yet this reaction may not seem all that alarming. After all, whenever food is mentioned, our body’s natural response is to feel hungry. But these researchers found that children were likely to choose foods branded with a well-known logo. They were even asked to taste a hamburger from a label-less box compared to a hamburger with a box labeled from McDonald’s, and overwhelmingly, they favored the recognized McDonald’s labeled burger.

Dr. Amanda Bruce, the study leader, explained, “Research has shown children are more likely to choose those foods with familiar logos. That is concerning because the majority of foods marketed to children are unhealthy, calorifically-dense foods high in sugars, fat, and sodium.” Dr. Bruce and her associates believe that these companies are exploiting this knowledge to trigger the reward portions of children’s brains way before they have even developed self-control.

Click here to learn more about the study. Visit the Fast Food F.A.C.T.S website to get a better understanding of how marketing can affect children and check out this short news video about the report.

And if you’re hankering for a burger or some french fries, here are some recipes to kick that craving in a healthier way.

Photo courtesy of stefou!

Toys, Tots and Tyranny by Dr. David Katz

7 Nov

Posted by Dr. David L. Katz at 11/5/2010 8:53 AM CDT
There is a very familiar way of describing exploitation of the vulnerable: it’s like taking candy from a baby.  Can a society that coined this phrase come to accept that the greater exploitation may be handing the candy to the baby in the first place?

Maybe so.

Amidst the tumult of this week’s midterm elections was an advance for public health that may or may not have come to your attention.  The city of San Francisco, following an example set some months back by Santa Clara County to its south- passed a law that prevents fast-food companies from including toys with meals that don’t meet some reasonable nutrition standards related to calories, fat, sugar, and salt.  McDonald’s ‘Happy Meals,’ the inspiration for the law, don’t meet those criteria.

So, in essence, this law takes the toy out of the Happy Meal until or unless McDonald’s can improve its nutritional quality.  In this case, nutritional quality is determined by some relevant guidelines developed at the Institute of Medicine.   For what it’s worth, I consider the nutrition standards imposed loose if anything.  McDonald’s has plenty of room in which to wiggle.

But for now, public statements certainly suggest the San Francisco vote was an unhappy one for the fast food giant.

I can think of some others who will be unhappy about the removal of toys from Happy Meals, too.  The kids, I suppose, who like the toys.  And along with them, adults who see this move as the heavy hand of government.  Government is reaching into a child’s lunch, and taking the toy- if not the candy- from the baby.

That is the basis for opposition to a law such as this, which might otherwise be the prevailing law of the land, rather than the law of San Francisco.  But the objection doesn’t stand up to the meanest scrutiny.

Let’s assume that you see the removal of the toy from the Happy Meal as a case of Big Brother telling you what to do.  How, then, did you view the placement of the toy in the Happy Meal in the first place?

McDonald’s did not consult you to find out if you wanted a toy encouraging your child to prefer a meal of lamentable nutritional quality.  They did not consult any parent.  They may have done consumer testing showing that kids- and thus their parents- are apt to choose such meals, but that’s to find out what’s best for them, not for you.

They did not consult me about the nutritional standards I would recommend for a meal including a toy.  To my knowledge, they did not consult any of my colleagues, either.  And while McDonald’s does have scientists on advisory panels, they are in no way obligated to listen to them- and probably don’t when their advice does not redound to the bottom line.

The toy may seem like a freebie.  But there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and the corollary is, there’s no such thing as a free toy with your lunch either.  McDonald’s put toys in Happy Meals for one reason: to sell more Happy Meals.

And, of course, it’s not just any toy that goes into a Happy Meal.  Generally, it’s a genuinely ‘hot’ toy.  A toy directly linked to the current Hollywood blockbuster.  You know the usual suspects: Shrek, Woodie, Buzz.  Coming soon: toys linked to the imminent Dreamworks movie, MegaMind.

You can bet there is proprietary research in a vault somewhere that shows that kids prefer meals with toys.  You can bet that research also shows the toy in question is more influential when tied in to a popular movie.  You can bet there’s also research to show what percentage of the time parents give in to the wheedling of their child who wants such a meal.

The reason to take up this topic is not because of Happy Meals in San Francisco, but because the principles here are important, and generalizable.

I do understand the resistance: opposition to heavy-handed government.  Those opposed to the toy-free Happy Meal are our defenders against tyranny!

Or are you?

The government in San Francisco, unlike McDonald’s, is accountable to voters.  The government actually needs the support of a majority of citizens to get elected, and thus have the authority to take the toy out of the Happy Meal.  McDonald’s only needed the passive assent of its share holders to put it in.

We are all prone, whether or not we care to admit it, to manipulation by multinational corporations with fortunes to spend on the best thinking Madison Avenue can provide.  Thinking designed to figure out what it takes to get us to buy what they’re selling.  Being manipulated into a lunch choice by McDonald’s and Dreamworks is not exactly the epitome of personal liberty.

I understand that some see tyranny in the removal of the toy from the Happy Meal.  But I think they are missing the point in a rush to judgment.

Removing the toy is the will of parents.  The toy was the tyranny.


Dr. David L. Katz; http://www.davidkatzmd.com



The BAN of the Happy Meal

4 Nov

The premise is pretty simple – we can’t give toys away to kids with their meals, unless the meals are healthy – at least not in San Francisco. Healthy meaning that the meals are less than 600 calories, have less than 640 milligrams of sodium, and have less than 35% of calories from fat with less than 10% from saturated fat (with exceptions for nuts, seeds, eggs or low-fat cheese) and the there be at least a half cup of fruit or three-quarters of a cup of vegetables.

Our country is in the midst of an obesity epidemic, it is refreshing to see San Francisco take the lead on this one. Hopefully, SF is the first of many. Even better, maybe McDonald’s will change-up what they are serving. At Butter Beans, we see children who think they don’t like fruits and vegetables, find they like them – every single day. We are making strides in creating more sustainable food systems across the country with more green food markets and CSA’s and food cooperatives than ever before. But unless this generation of youngsters understand the connection between the food we grow, the food we eat and how this affects our bodies and the lives we are able to lead, our work will not outlive us. Right now, our children – those born after the year 2000 are the first generation not expected to outlive us, their parents. And it all boils down to eating habits.

May New York, and every city in between, follow suit.