An Alternative Happy Meal, An Alternative Future?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

This is my final post capturing a few sentiments from this year’s Farm to Fork class at Harvard. A photo montage of all the meals prepared by students is here and fifty words describing some key concepts of healthy, sustainable eating are here. Thanks for reading!

Quinoa burger with kale chips and fruit skewers: the future happy meal?

In the United States, we’re all very familiar with the ever-popular box of fast food served to kids at McDonald’s known as the “Happy Meal.” Serving almost 69 million people in 119 countries around the world daily, McDonald’s comes under fire from a lot of folks for all kinds of reasons, whether nutritional content, food marketing to children, or whatnot. Last night, one of my student groups took a pro-active stance, asking themselves the question “Can we make the Happy Meal … happier?” Following the current model of the meal while adhering to the nutrition science-based principles of the dietary guidelines and the key concepts of sustainable eating, farm to fork, this creative group of students developed an alternative.

Oh yes, it even comes with a toy—if you consider a packet of seeds and two cute little pots for planting a toy. (And in our my world of scientists and students interested in food, public health, and saving the world, we do.)

Will this be the fast food of the future? Who knows, but, hey, given 2013 is officially the International Year of Quinoa, anything can happen. I’m hopeful.

In the meantime, whether McDonald’s will ever serve such a meal or not, perhaps it’s time for you to think about creating alternative meals in your own kitchen that are fun, tasty, and healthy, whether for your kids or yourself. Not certain your children will like this quinoa burger, or other meatless alternatives? Don’t be so sure. Kids’ taste buds adjust to new flavors. They’re also awfully creative: just check out this impressive list of the winning meals made by kids for Michelle Obama’s Healthy Lunchtime Challenge over the summer.

It’s not the new year yet, but it’s never too early—or too late—to think about making changes to your diet (or your life) that will create an alternative future: for yourself, for your family, and for the planet.

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Dr. P.K. Newby is a nutrition scientist, speaker, and author with expertise in all things food, farm to fork, whether preventing obesity and other chronic diseases through diet or teaching planet-conscious eating. As a health expert and food personality, she brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability to educate and inspire, helping people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Healthy Hedonism (TM) is her philosophy: Because healthy food shouldn’t suck.

Copyright © 2011-2020 P.K. Newby. All Rights Reserved.

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