Food Industry to Change Fast With New Health America

fast foodOne aspect of the health care bill taking immediate effect is that chain restaurants will now be required to display nutrition information. What we are witnessing could well make a seismic shift in the changing of the food landscape of America.

The Associated Press Reports:

More than 200,000 fast food and other chain restaurants will have to include calorie counts on menus, menu boards and even drive-throughs.

The new law, which applies to any restaurant with 20 or more locations, directs the Food and Drug Administration to create a new national standard for menu labeling, superseding a growing number of state and city laws. President Barack Obama signed the health care legislation Tuesday.

The idea is to make sure that customers process the calorie information as they are ordering. Many restaurants currently post nutritional information in a hallway, on a hamburger wrapper or on their Web site. The new law will make calories immediately available for most items.

This rule will also apply to vending machines carrying convenience foods.

So how will this change be manifested to the American food system?

Americans’ appetite for cheap and processed foods and factory-farmed meat impacts everything from carbon emissions to water quality to pesticide and farms’ use of antibiotics.

The Oscar-nominated documentary “Food, Inc.” had a huge effect on informing people about the problems in the industrial food system. Oprah brought author and food expert Michael Pollan on her show to discuss the documentary, which she called “thought-provoking” and “eye-opening”. Michael Pollan also made appearances on The Daily Show and told Jon Stewart in January that he thought the passage of health care reform would have a large impact on changing the way people eat, because health insurers would have a financial motive to keep people away from eating unhealthy foods that will cause long-term health problems.

Michelle Obama has also become a public spokeswoman of increasing access to real food, gardening and fighting childhood obesity with her Let’s Move campaign. Last week she spoke to the Grocery Manufacturers Association about completely reassessing the ‘junk’ food which they sell:

“We need you not to just tweak around the edges but entirely rethink the products you are offering, the information that you provide about these products, and how you market those products to our children.”

No, Oprah, Chicken Little does not eat at KFC !

Ever since Chicken Little tried to tell everyone “the sky is falling” people have taken advantage of the tasty little bird, especially those who like to eat at chicken fast food places Like Kentucky Fried Chicken, or KFC for short. This particular food chain has been under fire for quite a while because of the way it buys all those chicken ‘body parts’ that wind up being sold as regular recipe and “extra crispy” KFC meals to people all over the world, including places like Moscow and Tokyo Japan.

KFC Witness protection programAmerica’s talk show queen, Oprah Winfrey, has really taken it on the chin ever since she announced that her website that she is giving away coupons for free chicken dinners, KFC restaurants around America have been literally inundated with people coming with coupons in hand for a free chicken meal, including two side dishes and a fluffy, calorie packed farm-style biscuit. The situation has gotten so bad that many KFC places either ran out of chicken or had to turn people away without honoring the coupon.

Why would America’s most popular female talk show host want to offer such a deal is beyond the comprehension of most sane people, including those who are against the killing of millions of innocent fowl to satisfy the hunger of these people, especially when it was revealed that the poor victims, all relatives of Chicken Little, are often thrown into scalding water while still alive, clucking and all.

KFC executives have promised to look into the matter, although it appears that Oprah’s endorsed promo has come with their knowledge, as it certainly brings attention to the product they sell. But it also has brought out that these chickens are raised in giant, overcrowded “factory farms”, injected with all kinds of hormones and antibiotics to grow to larger sizes, and then “processed” in such horrible manners, which might make vegetarians of us all, which would make Chicken Little very pleased.

Oprah’s PR people might be wise to remove the promo ad before things really get out of hand and millions of Mr. Little’s relatives do a march on her studio in Chicago. Seriously, her PR department might reconsider her involvement with KFC, especially in light of so much attention being drawn to the matter of animal rights and animal cruelty.

Oprah is said to be against animal cruelty; but her personal opinions seem to have become lost along the way in her organizational hierarchy.

Factory farming has also been recently in the news in light of the swine flu epidemic, in which large swine raising farms in Mexico have been blamed as being the possible cause of the flu scourge which has spread over much of the world. I t wouldn’t be advisable for Oprah to offer a promo for BBQ ribs or other pork products after the “KFC chicken giveaway”.

Of course there is free-range chicken, like Chicken Little is said to be one of, but KFC suppliers wouldn’t be able to catch enough to satisfy the craving of all of Oprah’s fans.

Thinking Outside the School Lunch Box

School lunches for kids in America these days need to be more creative as well as health oriented. Many public schools still serve their students lunches that are heavily loaded down with carbohydrates and saturated fats; with many foods being those that are simply available from USDA commodities warehouses. While this is probably better than turning all this surplus food into bio-fuels, it doesn’t do much to reduce overweight problems brought on by too much starches and fats.

While many schools have had salad bars available for their students, cafeterias also have lunch menus which closely resemble those found in fast food places like McDonalds or Burger King complete with processed French fries, onion rings, chicken nuggets, and other junk foods that are loaded with “CARBS”, “SATS” and heavy amounts of sodium and other food preservatives. For this reason, many parents are once again sending their children to school with lunch boxes containing salads and sandwiches made with whole grain breads and other healthier food items. These new “school foods” are much healthier than the school lunches brought from home a generation or two ago when a typical box or sack lunch consisted of a baloney sandwich or hot dog , a piece of fruit, and maybe some cookies.

Lunch Bag

Trying to convince most kids to eat some forms of exotic menus found in whole foods stores won’t really work, unless they already eat these kinds of food at home anyway. What is interesting is that European schools have much healthier school lunch menus, and some schools in countries like France and Belgium even hire chefs to prepare more interesting as well as healthy diets for school children.

It’s not likely that American schools will go this route. But more nutritious, as well as appetizing meals can be made, even it they prepared beforehand at a central kitchen and sent to schools and reheated there. Children who must have special menus, either for health or religious reasons, are more likely to bring their lunches from home. But one thing is for sure; a child’s success in school is either helped or hindered by the type of diet during the day. As U.S. President Harry Truman said back in 1946, “In the long view, no nation is healthier than its children”.

Using a bit of creativity for school meals is far better than serving “high-carb” fast foods or baloney sandwiches.