DailyDirt: Faster Food, Faster!

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

There are a lot of food options out there, and fast food is certainly one of the more popular choices for people on the go. Not surprisingly, though, fast food establishments usually don’t have the best reputation for healthy dining, but some of them are trying to change their image. Here are just a few stories on fast food news.

By the way, StumbleUpon can also recommend some good Techdirt articles, too.

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Companies: burger king, kfc, mcdonald's, pizza hut, taco bell, yum brands

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Comments on “DailyDirt: Faster Food, Faster!”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Potential bias?

I think the hope of the government is that the people getting food stamps use them to buy arsenic and rat poison as their meals, and die off quickly before costing them any more money. The government has no interest in making sure the poor make healthy meal choices, and they shouldn’t anyway. Food stamp recipients are responsible for their choices, not the nanny state, and if they want to stuff their faces with crap, that’s their right. I could not care less what they choose to eat. If they want to piss it away on Twinkies and Coke, fine!

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Re: Re: Yum Brands and the SNAP System

The EBT system is simply a financial/regulation delivery system, which supports other programs. Apart from cash assistance, which can be drawn like any other money in the bank, EBT supports the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), but also the Women, Infants, and Children Program(WIC), for pregnant women, infants, and small children. SNAP has a relatively limited system of food incentives, ie. no alcohol, but a 30% subsidy for “produce,” defined as “fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruits and vegetables that do not have any added sugar, salt, fat, or oil.” WIC is quite properly more fussy than SNAP about what it allows, as you can see from the link below. The USDA nutritionists want children to eat one kind of fish, but not another kind, for quite valid health reasons (mercury exposure), and their views have been coded into the system. In a grocery store, you will often see labels on the shelves indicating which foods are WIC-approved.

Don’t forget that EBT is fairly new, and is gradually gaining confidence in the extent to which it can tell people what to eat. Traditionally, there was a feasible maximum of regulation. If the rules were made too complicated, ordinary grocery stores would simply refuse to play. I don’t doubt that, at the end, the EBT/SNAP/WIC system will actually be counting calories, grams of protein, and units of the various vitamins and minerals. That is what computers are for, after all. No doubt the computer built into the more avant-garde shopping cart will enable the WIC-shopper to navigate the system without undue difficulty, a la Amazon. “Look, you’re running low on Vitamin C and Vitamin A. How about some nice lettuce?” and “Have you been having the following minor ailments?… They can be symptoms of a low-grade nutritional deficiency, which can be corrected by eating more lettuce,” and so on and so forth, in Jewish-mother fashion.

Presumably Yum Brands will do what it has to do, in order to maintain accountability for federal SNAP and WIC money. It can be held to the same standards of compliance as a grocery store, and so can a gas station for that matter. You simply insist that they computerize their operations to the point of being effectively auditable.




Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Home Delivery

Delivered food has to compete with the various grades and levels of home cooking, ranging from scratch cooking down to the consumption of frozen entrees cooked in the microwave. At minimum, the delivery customer has a refrigerator, a microwave oven, and a coffee-maker, and various small kitchen appliances. Fast food in the store, or at the drive-up window, is largely premised on the idea that the customer does not have access to even the most rudimentary cooking equipment. Often the fast food restaurant is really selling the customer a place to sit down. In many cities, if you are willing to eat standing up, you can get much better bargains from vending trucks. I’ve eaten stuffed grape leaves from a Greek vending truck across the street from a McDonald’s, on occasion.

The basic point which underlies the delivered pizza is that you need a special kind of oven to cook pizza, because of the way the bread and fillings are combined. You bake the crust, and then cook the fillings _on_ the crust, using pre-cooked meats, such as various kinds of sausage. To do this, you need a massive oven with a very small, but wide, door opening, which can be kept explosively hot, so that toppings give up their water content as steam, faster than it can soak into the pizza crust.

A hamburger is different. The parts are cooked separately. Twenty dollars or so will get you a toaster-oven to toast your buns when you need them. Similarly, you can make a good hamburger in an electric skillet, or you can have an outdoor grill. It seems that McDonald’s and Wendy’s use a “George Foreman” or “clam” grill in which the meat is clamped between two electrically heated surfaces, and again, a home-sized version can be bought for twenty to fifty dollars. A clam grill delivers heat exactly where it is wanted for browning meat, and therefore has the same order of efficiency as a microwave oven. The quality is not great, but it is more or less acceptable. Burger King flame-broils, after a fashion, but again, not so much that the quality is exemplary. Hardees, a second tier chain, really does flame-broil. Flame-broiling takes time, and the local Hardees has adopted the steakhouse system of taking orders at the counter, but giving the customers plastic flags so that a server can bring their food out to them. What makes Hardees second tier is that it doesn’t spend the money to buy real estate where large numbers of people are going for lunch, the way McDonald’s does.

I’ve eaten frozen microwaveable french fries, which came in a package with its own internal clam grill. There were two layers of a material which was some kind of composite of plastic and metal foil, which acted as microwave antennae, and became quite hot without arcing or igniting. At the same time, it was thin enough that it had no heat capacity to speak of. You had to open the package and push the top down, so that the food was squeezed between the two composite layers, and then zap it in the microwave oven. I found it was better to use a paper plate as a spacer to separate the package from the floor of the oven, and then to tip the fries out on paper towels. I don’t see why the same system could not be applied to hamburgers.

More mundanely, you can keep a supply of fixings in a little refrigerator in your office, and you can make yourself a decent sort of sandwich with cold cuts and sliced cheese on a freshly toasted bun. I’m talking about good cold cuts (eg. Budig) and good cheese, of course, much better grades than what they serve in fast-food restaurants. Also, you can have some potato salad and cole slaw as a side. Chose a variety of potato salad which has lots of diced onions and bell peppers in it. Finish up with bottled fruit juice.

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