Can fast food ever be good food?

Many people believe that fast food means junk food. I don’t think that has to be true. With the right approach, fast food can be good food too.

Fast food, like so many things in business, is about recognising what customers need. At a roadside, you don’t want to be stopping for 2 hours, you just want a quick bite to eat.  That’s why so many people use McDonalds – they want to stay in their car and carry on driving because they need to get somewhere and they can’t afford the time to wait for food to be prepared and served.

And if you do have to leave your car, you want reassurances that you can be in and out very quickly. At the moment only McDonalds, Burger King and KFC can offer that. Subway food may be a little healthier, but if you’re in a hurry you’d have to think twice about Subway because customers in front of you will take another 20 minutes out of your life.

So fast food is here to stay, but that’s no reason not to expect it to be a whole lot healthier than it is at the moment. There’s a world of difference between being healthy and just purporting to be healthy. Did you hear about the fast food chain whose burger was loaded with so much sugar that could have been classified as a cake? But because it had a pickle in it the company could still call it a burger.

It’s a similar story with children’s food. The fast food outlets want to be seen to be healthy, so they offer carrot sticks alongside chips as one of the 3 meal items. Except they’re not going to get any takers, are they, unless it’s the parents doing the choosing. This is just all so much cynical window-dressing.

The thing is, it is more than possible to offer fast food that’s also healthy. I envisage a new high street chain offering food that’s fast and convenient, but nutritious too. In this respect it would reflect Cucina’s ‘stealthy eating’ approach – with wholemeal buns, non-fat mayonnaise, own brand sauces and relishes, meat sourced locally, vegetables grown the company’s own farms,  the use of polyunsaturated fats, fair trade tea and coffee, etc etc.

In other words, offer the quick eating convenience, but take the choices that people prefer now and make them into much healthier products. Isn’t that a better vision of a fast future?

Till next time,
Steve

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