McDonald's news, it seems our favorite fast food corporate giant is getting in the business of nutrition education. Your child's class can now visit the local McDonald's on a field trip and learn all about "nutrition." This is exactly what a class of sixth graders in Connecticut did recently. I guess there aren't any museums or historical sites in Stratford, CT, so a field trip to McDonald's seemed like a good idea to someone. A local store marketer brought the children into the store to give them information on the "health benefits of certain vegetables" and "tips on making healthy choices." Nutrition education at McDonald's?!! This makes about as much sense as bringing children to a "professional wrestling" match to give them information on conflict resolution! How about bringing them to a NASCAR race to teach them about safe driving? Why don't we have Bristol Palin promoting abstinence to our kids? Oh, wait, never mind that last one!
But let's not underestimate the intelligence of our sixth graders. Maybe they were able to glean some sound nutritional nuggets from this marketing maneuver. One 11 year-old student stated, ""I learned that McDonald's can be very healthy for you if you make the right choices. I usually have lots of cheese, but I had less cheese and more lettuce...." Another said he "planned to get an Angus Deluxe, but chose a Big Mac because it had 210 fewer calories." Okay...A Big Mac still has 540 calories, 260 of which are from fat. This accounts for 50 percent of an adult's recommended fat intake for an entire day. It also has 1040 mg of sodium, which is almost half of the daily recommended salt intake for an adult. Saying that you chose a Big Mac because it's healthier than an Angus Deluxe is sort of like saying you chose a screwdriver over a martini because there's orange juice in the screwdriver.
Now I am aware that McDonald's offers some healthy choices, such as apple slices, juice, and milk, on their menu. Healthy options comprise only a very small portion of McDonald's menu choices, however. And let's be real; how many kids are going to go to McDonald's and order only healthy food, especially if Mom and Dad are cramming Quarter Pounders and large fries down their gullets? Nutrition workshops, like Happy Meals, are just another ploy by McDonald's to promote brand awareness in children and create lifelong consumers for their products-lifelong consumers whose lives may be shortened by obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure caused, in part, by the very products McDonald's serves up!
I am not one of those greener than thou parents who won't let food touch their child's lips unless it has been harvested by non-oppressed workers on a totally organic, local farm run by a member of my women's studies book club. I do, on occasion, eat fast food and allow my child to do so also. I am not, however, delusional enough to believe that I am making sound nutritional choices when I do this. No matter how McDonald's tries to dress it up, a Big Mac, fries, and Hawaiian Punch are not a healthy protein, vegetable, and fruit choice. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig. And it's absolutely indecent that school systems are using taxpayer money to send kids on field trips to learn this hogwash!