Coming Soon to Your Local Fast Food Joint: McShock Burgers and Holy Crap You Can’t Be Serious Fries

Love it, hate it, mildly disinterested in it, or extremely sick of it… Obama’s health care reform bill is now law.

I am completely loathe to get into a political discussion regarding the ins and outs of the law or really the Obama administration in general, suffice it to say that it does pain me to see how extreme the gap in our country seems to have become throughout my adult life. But perhaps it’s always been that way and I’ve only grown more aware as I’ve gotten older. At any rate, I’ve already said far too much about politics and it’s boring me.

But you know what doesn’t bore me? CALORIE COUNTING! Yep, I said it.

Calories Label

I’m not obsessive. I don’t have a calorie limit, and I don’t feel guilty if I know I’ve eaten way more calories than I burned any particular day. In fact, I rarely know how many calories I’ve eaten on any given day, but I could certainly guess pretty close. However, I do think it’s important to know your numbers, at least generally, if for no better reason than to create some awareness around the food you’re eating. Let me be clear that I’m specifically NOT talking about dieting here, I’m merely talking about paying attention. You will rarely, if ever, see me advocating that anyone go on a diet – any diet that someone goes on is bound for failure as it already implies a temporary change. The verb “diet” does not belong in my dictionary. Only the noun.

Anyway, here’s the good news. The health care reform law has a stipulation that requires…

All restaurant chains with more than 20 locations are required by law to disclose calorie information about every item that they serve.

Vending machines serving food and beverage products are also required to disclose calorie information.

This… this is awesome. If you don’t think this is awesome, you are just evil. No politics about it. You are wrong.

Does it fall short of what it could be? Yes, for sure. I don’t really understand the 20 locations cutoff. If it were on me, it should be a requirement of any restaurant establishment. In some enlightened places around the world, NYC for instance, nearly all restaurants already post such information because they realize it’s something their consumers want.

Let’s not even assume this will motivate places to serve better food. Even if that doesn’t happen, posting this information actually increases their business because people come there because they want to actually know what they’re eating, even if it’s not the most healthy stuff around. Crazy thing is, people like to make those decisions on their own. But they can’t even make those decisions if they don’t have the information, instead they are just left to blindly guess behind a veil of restaurateur secrecy. Honestly, this has become a significant reason why I eat out less and less frequently these days.

Nutrition Facts Shmutrition Shmacts

McDonald’s is screwed here. Okay, maybe I’m being a little too optimistic, but I can’t help picturing their customers just being blown away by the fact that a McSalad really just isn’t all that healthy for them. Shocker, I know. But I do believe that too many people eat the way they do because they genuinely just don’t know any better. This is not a statement about the general intelligence of the population, but rather it’s a comment on how much effort such companies have gone to hide any and all information about their food – be it the food production, the food processing, the restaurant practices, and lastly the nutritional value of the food itself. At every stage of the line from “farm” (I use the term loosely) to consumer, everything has been hidden from plain view. Now we will finally start to see this change.

And who knows how much change this could engender? While I’m being optimistic, I’d like to think it could be quite significant.

The stage is set for a serious food revolution in this country. Of this I am pretty certain. Movies like Food, Inc. are winning awards, Michael Pollan appears on Oprah and Jon Stewart, farmer’s markets are experiencing a popularity like never before, and finally we’re even seeing some positive action from the government (let’s ignore for a moment that there’s a crazy guy in NYC who wants to ban salt).

Perhaps this may not truly be a tipping point, but it is most certainly another crack in the glass. And that glass is weakening.

Ronald Arrested

I’m lovin it!

What do you think? What kind of consequences do you think might come of this?