By Larry Larys, RMU student.
Standards. Fresh. Quality. Every restaurant says they deliver these things, but do they really? We, as consumers, believe that fresh and quality carry the same meaning, but in actuality do they? We also believe that fresh is healthy. Subway is a great example. People always say, “Let’s go to Subway! It is healthy.” In reality, Subway is not much better than any other fast casual restaurant. Americans have it in their mind that “Subway, Eat Fresh” means it’s healthy –especially after the addition of Jared, who actually lost the weight from his 3 mile walk there and back.
While restaurants may have consumers confused that fresh is not only healthy but quality, it is our own fault because many of us don’t know what the word quality means. Quality is defined as “A degree of excellence,” something that is hard to find in a restaurant nowadays. Fresh is defined as “newly or just come or arrived,” and this may be part of the reason consumers are confused. Just because a product arrives that day in a restaurant does not mean the food is “fresh.” Personally, I would define fresh as never being frozen, quickly shipped to the location, and used within a few days. It is important that consumers make sure there is an understanding of what we want in a business and ensure it achieves that caliber of service.
To compare the health benefits of restaurants let’s compare Subway, which people think of as healthy, to McDonald’s, thought to be the worst of fast food. Two favorites are Subway’s Chicken Bacon Ranch Melt and McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese. Subway’s “healthy choice” has 570 calories to the Quarter Pounder’s 520. And, personally, the second choice has more flavor. Also, realize the Chicken Melt isn’t figuring all the extra toppings and other dressings, such as oil, you may want to add—tacking on more calories. Everyone thinks fish is a healthy substitute for red meat but Subway’s Tuna sandwich packs 470 calories. McDonald’s Filet-o-fish comes in at a mere 390 calories.
I am not saying eat at Subway over McDonalds, because the fries and other sandwiches can be much worse if you don’t shop smart; however, this proves very strongly that what most consumers deem as fresh doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. People need to do research on what they are eating and not put their fate into the stores that feed them confusing material, both at fast food restaurants and full service restaurants. It is okay to eat fast food in moderation as long as you are an informed shopper. The most important thing to remember is that fresh doesn’t always mean healthy.