Friday, November 19, 2010

49¢ more?

Okay, first, I must confess: I drove through. A drive-thru. Yes, a fast food drive-thru. But I guess that's why I went with Medium Food Mama and not Slow Food Mama. I still struggle with being totally organized and not finding myself in a pinch when out with the boys. Today was one of those days.

On our way to Whole Foods (from Target), my littlest baby fell asleep. After being so fussy that I almost had to abandon our cart mid shopping, I wasn't about to wake him. And my three year old wasn't about to forget about lunch, sleeping brother or not. After offering all that I had on me (a Grammy Sammy and Fiddlesticks), it was off to Burger King for mac and cheese. Getting mac and cheese is via the Kid's Meal. The menu gives you options on a beverage. They offer both plain milk and chocolate as well as juice and soda. All the meals come with fries. But wait, I don't want fries. As I ask for an alternative, I see "Apple Fries" on the menu with a clear note underneath: 49¢ more. At almost the exact time, the cashier tells me I can get apple fries but it will be "extra." I said no problem, give me the apple fries.

While waiting for the quintessential handing of food through a window, I couldn't stop being bothered by having to pay more for apples. It's one of the main problems I have with our food system. Make even the simplest, healthier swap more expensive. I worked in a restaurant for over eight years and, at the time, customers could have fruit, cottage cheese or even a salad in place of fries - at no extra cost. With the unwavering support (income) that fast food chains have from the masses, I'm certain the extra money is just gravy. And I would venture to say at a restaurant, especially a small family-owned one, the extra money would not be just gravy but rather contribute to keeping the doors open.

This post isn't about whining over 49¢, although I am doing so and a few cents can make a difference. It is more about the WHY. All charging "extra" for a healthier swap does is continue to perpetuate the current problem with making good food harder to obtain and bad food easier to obtain. Maybe I should start a petition or something specifically targeted at fast food restaurants and not charging more for healthy food or at least the extra charge for apples. I guess if San Francisco was able to pass a ban on toys associated with meals that are poor in nutrition (a.k.a. Happy Meals), then maybe I could generate some action on this subject. It's a thought.

In conclusion, I need to get more organized as to avoid having to deal with fast food choices and annoyances. You know, bring my own apples, cheese, sandwiches, etc. It's always my intent but as I said earlier, I still struggle.

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