Why Is Everything Fried and Brown?

Why must it be such an ordeal to find fresh things to eat?

Why are items that have been breaded, coated, battered and deep-fried, thus rendering that lovely brownish-orange fried look the norm, while freshly steamed broccoli or some sliced turkey are not?

Don’t get me wrong; it’s very possible and not even that difficult to procure real food that’s actually, well, food almost anywhere you go.

However, I find it quite troublesome that doing so is far more sketchy than simply opting for the path of least resistance and going with whatever is offered on any given menu, buffet or event.

And I’m not getting political here and addressing the dire need to completely overhaul the state of the food industry in the US, whose most important loyalty is to its stock holders, rather than its consumer and whose current system makes feeding a family on a tight budget easy to do at McDonalds and next to impossible with real food.

The CEO of General Mills summed it up quite succinctly when he said after speaking about the company’s efforts to provide healthier options, “”Bottom line being, though, that we need to ensure that our products taste good, because our accountability is also to our shareholders. And there’s no way we could start down-formulating the usage of salt, sugar, fat if the end result is going to be something that people do not want to eat.”[1]

I’m writing today about why we, the consumers, aren’t demanding better options.

Is it because these foods are actually wanted?

If you’ve been staying on the straight and narrow with your eating regime but doing so perhaps a little too neurotically, say, for example, trying to pair Paleo with low fat and low carb, you could end up with a regime that’s too rigid.  

Or maybe you think you’re eating properly but don’t have an accurate sense of just what you’re getting when you dine out.

Harvard Medical School researchers who polled more than 3,400 customers at fast food chains found that people significantly underestimated the calories in their meals. This varied by age group; adolescents on average underestimated calorie content by 259 calories, while adults and parents of school-age children underestimated by 175 calories. More than a quarter of people, though, underestimated calorie content by at least 500 calories, according to the research published in the British Medical Journal last year[2].

Not eating enough fat, or not eating enough period can leave you in a perpetual state of feeling too hungry, too soon and never seeming to feel satiated.

This is not intermittent fasting, it’s definitely not healthy and it’s not sustainable long term.

So if you’ve been doing this, even with all the best of intentions, it’d be quite easy to find yourself, the next time you’re dining out, to scan a menu and go right to the onion rings, the French fries and the breaded chicken parmesan, glossing right over the entrée salad section.

You’re certainly less likely to go the extra mile and ask to order something off the menu, by inquiring with your server to ask what fresh veggies the kitchen might be able to prepare for you, for example.

And if you’re still doing the ‘being good phase’ versus the ‘being not so good’ phase in terms of your eating, and the indulgence in the fried things isn’t just the occasional treat, you’re not going to be doing yourself any favors, nor will you be helping the grander cause of getting people eating healthier as a whole.

If that connection isn’t made between what one eats and how they physically feel afterward, the chances of making permanent change is significantly decreased.

For many, it’s an addiction. Sugar is everywhere, and many people are hooked.

In fact, a highly cited study in the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews found that sugar, as pervasive as it is, meets the criteria for a substance of abuse and may be addictive to those who binge on it. It does this by affecting the chemistry of the limbic system, the part of the brain that’s associated with emotional control[3].

Having a little now and then isn’t an option, and going cold turkey, while perhaps painful for a short period of time, is undoubtedly the way to go.

Others reference convenience, but again, it’s just as easy to stop into any hole in the wall and still make your best choices based on the options that may not be ideal, at the very least.

Just a few weeks ago while driving home from a race in Sonoma, I stopped at a Subway, where they now offer any sandwich to be made as a salad.

And while I’m sure the turkey wasn’t pasture raised, nor was the spinach organic, ordering a hodge-podge salad made of both the spinach and the turkey, along with some olive oil, tomato, cucumber and bell pepper was still the better option than just asking for a meatball sub, which is what the person in front of me happened to choose.

Both were made in the same amount of time.

Both cost about the same.

And while the message that I may have sent to Subway, as one person skipping the bread, cheese and who knows what else, was likely overlooked, imagine what the possibilities could be if a greater percentage of the population began frequenting restaurants and eateries across the country asking for more vegetables and passing on the fried junk?

It could be tremendous!

In addition to feeding your own body with better foods, collectively, we could begin to see things like more healthy options listed on menus and better yet, it’s a way to make a positive contribution without doing anything other than choosing good foods for yourself!
            Every action sends a message and the more we send the message to every convenience store, buffet line, fast food or any restaurant to keep the fried food coming, they’ve got no impetus to make changes.

And it’s the bottom line that’s always going to be their most important.

So put down that onion ring and ask for some salad, won’t you?


[1] “How The Food Industry Manipulates Taste Buds With ‘Salt Sugar Fat'” NPR. NPR, n.d. Web. 28 July 2015

[2] People Literally Have No Idea How Many Calories Are in Their Food.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 25 Nov. 2014. Web. 28 July 2015.

[3] “Sugar Is a “Drug” and Here’s How We’re Hooked.” Healthlines RSS News. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2015