Sunday, February 20, 2005

All hail the drive-thru Caesar

Which US food service company buys the most fresh apples? Why McDonald's of course. With salads and apple slices, McDonald's new menus items are having a lot of impact.

But there are doubters. Enter the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a group of cranks and nags the media always turns to for the tut-tutting that passes for balanced reporting. "'Nearly all the entree choices at McDonald's...are still all of poor nutritional value,' said Margo Wootan, director of nutritional policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest." So, don't dare enjoy those salads guilt-free.

Look, moms don't always have time to assemble meals that would meet Ms. Wootan's approval. McDonald's enables these women to make good choices for their kids and themselves. While turning a profit. That's key because this is the dirty secret of consumer research: "a lot of McDonald's customers say in focus groups that they want healthy food, but less than 10 percent actually buy the salads." It's often ignored by overeager consumer (and political) researchers, but people tend to say what they think you want to hear. Not all those people polled before election day are truly "likely voters," and not all "healthy eaters" actually choose fruit over fries. But McDonald's has made it genuinely easy to eat better. And that ain't small potatoes.

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