Mark Bittman on a Healthy Fast Food Joint

From a good Mark Bittman piece in The New York Times, who shares his vision for an all-healthy fast-food joint:

I’m not talking about token gestures, like McDonald’s fruit-and-yogurt parfait, whose calories are more than 50 percent sugar. And I don’t expect the prices to match those of Taco Bell or McDonald’s, where economies of scale and inexpensive ingredients make meals dirt cheap. What I’d like is a place that serves only good options, where you don’t have to resist the junk food to order well, and where the food is real — by which I mean dishes that generally contain few ingredients and are recognizable to everyone, not just food technologists. It’s a place where something like a black-bean burger piled with vegetables and baked sweet potato fries — and, hell, maybe even a vegan shake — is less than 10 bucks and 800 calories (and way fewer without the shake). If I could order and eat that in 15 minutes, I’d be happy, and I think a lot of others would be, too.

Some statistics:

In recent years, the fast-food industry has started to heed these new demands. Billions of dollars have been invested in more healthful fast-food options, and the financial incentives justify these expenditures. About half of all the money spent on food in the United States is for meals eaten outside the home. And last year McDonald’s earned $5.5 billion in profits on $88 billion in sales. If a competitor offered a more healthful option that was able to capture just a single percent of that market share, it would make $55 million. Chipotle, the best newcomer of the last generation, has beaten that 1 percent handily. Last year, sales approached $3 billion. In the fourth quarter, they grew by 17 percent over the same period in the previous year.

Close to where I live I have discovered one food joint that has tasty food that’s inexpensive: Zoe’s Kitchen. Here’s their menu of entries under 500 calories, for example.

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