Previous Next
5. There’s no such thing as healthy fast food

We know fast food isn’t good for us, and this is something the industry doesn’t want us to think about too much. Even their “healthy” offerings are often loaded with calories, trans-fats and refined sugar.

Burping cow, by Micah Taylor

  • McDonald’s California Cobb Salad with Crispy Chicken packs a whopping 18 grams of fat, almost 28% of the recommended daily value of 65 grams in a 2,000 calorie diet. That’s as much as a Quarter Pounder!
  • Add a pack of Newman’s Own Creamy Caesar Dressing and you’re doubling the total fat of the salad, bringing it up to 36 grams—over half our recommended daily intake. In a salad.
  • Just because something’s in a little packet doesn’t mean it’s safe, and sauces are particularly bad. McDonald’s 1.5oz pack of Spicy Buffalo Sauce is 60 calories (all from fat), plus 910mg of sodium – 38% of your recommended daily intake.

You can check fast food nutrition facts before you order by using the Meal Nutrition Fact Calculator, and comparing with your recommended daily intakes.

6. Artificial sweeteners are often far worse than sugar

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a commonly used sweetener. Despite the commercials which attempt to show otherwise – which are made by the Corn Refiners’ Association, by the way! – research has shown a link between HFCS and obesity.

Photo from Alphaila, by Dario D.

7. Bovine burps and dead fish

Most people are aware of the environmental implications of our food industry – food trucked or flown in from far off places, over-use of polluting chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the squeezing out of smaller farms. But did you know:

  • Factory farms in the Midwestern US have released so many chemicals into the Mississippi River that a large “dead zone” – an oxygen-depleted area where no fish live – has formed off the Louisiana coast. This dead zone is about the size of New Jersey, and has had disastrous effects on the important Louisiana shrimping and fishing industries.
  • The greenhouse gas methane is approximately 23 times better at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, and is a significant factor in global warming since cows produce so much methane. A single cow can belch out anything from 25 to 130 gallons of methane each day, which means they can be said to produce more greenhouse gas than an SUV! Oh, and there are 1.5 billion belching cattle on Earth – a number set to rise rapidly as the world demand for meat increases.
8. Fast food never tastes like it looks

In fact, it often doesn’t even look like it looks, at least in those glossy pictures. One photographer recently took it upon himself to document such discrepancies. Enjoy!


What do you think of fast food? How often do you eat it? Do you think it’s an important issue, or one that gets blown out of proportion. Share your thoughts in the comments.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like The No Nonsense Guide to Food Labels at Farmers’ Markets, and Going Organic: 6 Reasons Why You Should (Or Shouldn’t).

<< Previous Page 1 2

FoodDiet + Nutrition


About The Author

Megan Hill

Megan Hill is a freelance writer from New Orleans. She recently finished a year of service with AmeriCorps NCCC and is seeking representation for her memoir of her service. Read more from her on her website.

  • Lola Akinmade

    Fantastic piece Megan! And super scary too.

  • Michelle Schusterman

    ew ew ew ew ew.

    Great piece. After watching a few documentaries and reading a few books on fast food a few years ago, I can honestly say giving it up was not difficult at all.

  • Courtney

    The Serious Eats blog did an experiment with the non-decaying hamburger. Apparently a homemade burger with no bad ingredients doesn’t decay either because it just dehydrated before bacteria can take hold.

  • Nick Rowlands

    Always wondered why I was addicted to Silly Putty. Not I know!

    Great piece, Megan!

    • Nick Rowlands

      Oops, that should read, “now I know”. Maybe I should cut down…

  • Christine Garvin

    Those corn syrup commercials PISS ME OFF. Thanks for calling them out, Megan.

  • Candice Walsh

    Ughhh, that mechanically separated chicken image makes me so sick. As does the rest of these facts…

  • Vernee

    I thought the picture of the mechanically separated chicken was strawberry ice cream until I read the caption. Great piece, the links are really helpful also.

  • Ayngelina

    Oh man, just in time for a New Year’s Resolution. People need to read this, I’m posting on Facebook.

  • gabriel

    Damn, I love your site, but c’mon. It’s just too much misinformation in a single post. That picture made the rounds ages ago and no one could conclude anything from it, it’s highly suspicious and it doesn’t look like what it’s purpoted to be. And ‘some scientists’, really? Why don’t you go along with most scientists?

  • Darrin

    Great piece. I wonder if I chicken nuggets can pick up images of newsprint like silly putty. That would make one fun happy meal!

  • moi

    Good work Megan!!
    PS: not only are the scraps mechanically separated, the actual living animal is being picked apart by mechanical hands. Liver, kidney, etc. the animal dies in agony and no one seems to care. Perhaps more people will consider the veg vagon! One would not believe what wonders can happen when you go veg.
    Check out Green Candy Paws, a bi annual online mag written by animals.
    Rory Freedman’s fab books titled Skinny Bitch and Skinny Bastard or Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals. These reads are sure to open your eyes about the meat industry and it’s tactics, then spread the word. We’re only strong in #s

  • Scott

    Item #5 is very misleading. You state there is no such thing as healthy fast food and then to prove the point, you describe two of the fattiest items on a fast food menu – a fried chicken sandwich and creamy salad dressing. The article loses lots of credibility right there. Why not discuss the grilled chicken instead? Oh right – because that’s much lower in fat and would disprove your point.

    There are plenty of fast food items that are perfectly healthy. A Wendy’s plain baked potato and side salad with fat-free dressing, for instance. And the bulk of Subway’s menu.

    This piece reads more like propaganda instead of an informed argument. I was expecting more.

    • Jessica

      No need to be mad. You can still enjoy eating fast foods. Kill yourself slowly. Get fat :)

  • Gale

      With all the facts that exist and are easily available, I still find myself indulging in the “junk food”  category from time to time. But I must say, as I remind myself of  the BENEFITS of eating the right foods and adding nutritional products to my diet, my progress has been improving with leaps and bounds.
      The all time best weight loss products and nutritional supplements have been proven to be at this website>>>

  • Валентин Янчий

    you have established a good and useful article. I like it. Found more interesting on this topic here

  • Alexander Del Valle
  • johnno (buy Australian)

    If you eat shit and die whose fault is it anyway???

To change the community, the composition of the soil needs to change, and "we are the...
Looking for wild food is a primordial form - perhaps the oldest of all forms - of travel.
The beans of the Theobroma cacao tree transform into bars of delicious, organic chocolate.
You'll never be able to pronounce it, so shove one in your face before you even try.
I say "No, thank you" to the offered pastry and accept the quizzical, hurt look from the...
The idea of small-town merchants disseminating saved seeds is a thing of the past.
What if you could find success simply by doing one thing for your health?