Archive for the ‘Fast Food’ Category

Eat local – Eat seasonal – Eat a ‘kiwi-stick'(?)

June 5, 2010

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about the importance of ‘eating local and seasonal’. The reasons focus mainly on the need to support local producers and the local economy, to reduce pollution arising from the transportation and storage of food, to try to eat produce in its freshest state possible for maximum benefit of nutrients, and to lessen the demand for processed food, resulting in less pollution from manufacturing processes and less use of preservatives, and hence less health risks for humans.

International, national and business-led campaigns with the ‘eat local’ and ‘eat seasonal’ message emerge weekly.

In Malta we have the Naturalment Malti campaign led by the Ministry of Resources and Rural Affairs. This campaign promotes consumption of local fruits and vegetables, as well as other locally produced foods such as honey, ricotta, rabbit and wine, among others.

An interesting campaign was launched recently by McDonalds Italy:  the ‘Mc-Italy menu’. The goal was to present consumers with a range of menu items using a variety of local ingredients. These included Italian products such as extra virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese, artichokes, onions, bresaola (low-fat dry beef sliced thinly and eaten cold), pancetta and a 100% Italian beef patty in a locally produced bun.

A variety of salads with local produce are also sold at McDonalds Italy outlets;  but the latest trend is the ‘kiwi-stick’. This is literally a speared kiwi fruit (grown in the Agro-Pontino countryside just south of Rome) which can be eaten on-the-go as if it were an ice lollipop.

The kiwi stick is an item in the McDonalds Italy Frescallegre packages. In winter, bags of local seasonal fruit are sold. These have included, for example, apples from the northern Piedmont and peaches from Emilia Romagna. This summer, the company plans to use Sicilian oranges to make ice cream.

Yet, the ‘Mc-Italy menu’ was not met without controversy. The President of the Slow Food movement – Carlo Petrini – accepted the campaign with reservations. He asked for transparency regarding the fairness of the price paid to local farmers and artisans for the ingredients, and also queried how the sensory qualities of the Italian ingredients would be ensured in the end-product. He was also concerned with respect to the potential standardisation of these ingredients if the campaign was launched globally, thus jeopardising the true traditional Italian taste.

Across the pond, in Canada, another food company – Hellmann’s – is sponsoring a campaign promoting consumption of local Canadian food. Click on the link below to see their video which spells out clearly the rationale for eating seasonal and local.  Though our balance of imports and exports here in Malta cannot be compared, the different arguments and messages will get you thinking.

So next time you go food shopping, whilst keeping healthy eating as one of your main goals, do make that effort to check if you can buy local and seasonal, to satisfy both your nutritional needs and your appetite…and to show a bit of patriotism.

For more on the mentioned campaigns read here:

http://www.mrra.gov.mt/index.asp

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10149/1061601-28.stm#ixzz0q0XuU0nH

http://www.slowfood.com/sloweb/eng/dettaglio.lasso?cod=C2744B880501e2AE0AjlMmE90175

To see the video, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIsEG2SFOvM

Where’s the bread?

April 6, 2010

A global restaurant chain selling chicken snacks and meals will launch an unusual type of  sandwich in the US on April 12.

This special sandwich will feature two thick boneless white meat chicken fillets, two pieces of bacon, two melted slices of cheese, the restaurant chain’s signature sauce….and no bun!

If this menu item makes it to Malta, I wonder how bread-loving Maltese consumers will react to the ‘bunless’ sandwich…

And what about its nutrition profile? How does it differ from the ‘normal’ sandwich?

For more on the sandwich and its nutritional value go here:

http://www.kfc.com/about/newsroom/040610.asp

Campaign to retire Ronald McDonald

April 6, 2010

On March 31st, Corporate Accountability International launched a campaign asking McDonald’s to retire its mascot Ronald McDonald. 

http://retireronald.org/

This organisation states that there are several arguments to justify asking for Ronald’s retirement, primarily that this character has been used for nearly 50 years to lure children to eating less healthy food.

A survey conducted among a representative sample of the US adult population, in November 2009, showed that almost half of those surveyed agreed that it was time to retire Ronald.

This is the link to the full background report by Corporate Accountability International for those who are interested. 

http://retireronald.org/files/Retire%20Ronald%20Expose.pdf

Note: I am posting this bit of news and report not to demonise Ronald McDonald specifically (other characters are used in a similar way by other food companies), but rather to raise awareness that around the world adult carers are becoming concerned regarding the ‘unethical’ marketing ploys used by food companies to target young consumers.

Children are considered a vulnerable audience and companies often use various settings which children typically frequent, or where children spend long hours, to expose them to a variety of not-so-nutritious food. These companies also take advantage of children’s pester power to ‘force’ parents to buy certain food products.

You might ask “Is there something we should be doing ourselves at an individual or community level to curb this type of marketing to children?” 

Here  is a quote from the Retire Ronald Expose to get you thinking (p.23):

‘• Support local policy efforts, like eliminating all marketing, advertising and sales of fast food from school grounds, property in immediate proximity to schools, children’s libraries, playgrounds and other places where children visit frequently as well as hospitals serving children;

 • Support international policy efforts that encourage national governments to respond to this growing public health crisis by curbing the advertisement, marketing and promotion of unhealthy food products to children and young people.’

Weight Watchers©’ endorsement of McDonald’s© in New Zealand

March 7, 2010

Last week several items on the fast food giant’s menu – the Filet-O-Fish, Chicken McNuggets and Sweet Chilli Seared Chicken Wrap – were approved for the Weight Watchers diet in McDonald’s 150 New Zealand restaurants. Each meal is worth 6.5 points on the programme, which assigns points to food items and allows dieters to consume 18 to 40 points each day to achieve their target weight.

McDonald’s New Zealand managing director reported that they were able to include some of the most popular items in the Weight Watchers diet because of the many changes they had made over the years. For instance, the switch to a healthier canola blend cooking oil meant items such as the Filet-O-Fish and Chicken McNuggets now contained 60% less saturated fat than six years ago.

The Weight Watchers’ director of business in Australia and New Zealand said the partnership between the companies reflected “part of our philosophy that you can enjoy life … while still achieving your weight loss goals”.

However, around the world many nutrition and obesity experts were not so sure of this collaboration…

What are your views?