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weinoo

Virtuous Fast Food on the Rise - Trickle Down Effect?

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In today's NY Times, on the front page, an article by Julia Moskin is entitled Hold the Regret? Fast Food Seeks Virtuous Side.

 

I think a lot of credit has to go to people like Alice, Dan Barber, Jamie Oliver and their ilk. Because even though their restaurants, and often their snootiness, turn a lot of people off (remember Alice, cooking that egg in a spoonful of olive oil over a fireplace in her kitchen?), they were early proselytizers.

 

But it sure seems like people are willing to pay a bit more for good fast food, if chains like Chipotle, Tender Greens, SweetGreen (my personal fave) and others are any indication.  These chains:

 

offer enticements like grass-fed beef, organic produce, sustainable seafood and menus that change with the season. Most promise local ingredients; some are exclusively vegetarian or even vegan. A few impose calorie ceilings, and others adopt service touches like busboys and china plates.

 

And despite the higher costs and prices, all are thriving and planning national expansions, some directed by alumni of fine dining or of fast-food giants like McDonald’s.

 

Their success marks a milestone: After decades of public hand-wringing about the empty calories and environmental impact of fast food, the farm-to-table notions that have revolutionized higher-end American restaurants have finally found a lucrative spot in the takeout line. The result already has a nickname: farm to counter.

 

“This is not a passing fad,” said B. Hudson Riehle, the research director for the National Restaurant Association, who added that locally grown food and sustainability were the top two customer priorities reported this year in the group’s annual poll of American chefs. “It’s only going to get stronger.”

 

 

Thoughts?

 


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I looked at Sweet Greens menu and earth bowl salad is 730 calories.  Now, to be fair, seasonal salad is 395 calories.  For comparison, big mac is 550 calories.  I am not a big fan of fast food in general and "virtuous" (read expensive) fast food does not do anything for me as well.  I would much rather go to an ethnic restaurant and get fast service with much nicer food option. 

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I bet the targeted markets for the 'fast burger' and the 'virtuous salad' are different.

 

Im interested in the economics, targeting etc of both these 'markets'

 

its about $10 for 500 cals or so on the salad.  

 

what were the saladies eating before these types of vendors appeared ?

 

just a curious.  

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I looked at Sweet Greens menu and earth bowl salad is 730 calories.  Now, to be fair, seasonal salad is 395 calories.  For comparison, big mac is 550 calories.

The difference being that Big Macs have slowly and gradually shrunk down to about 4 or 5 good bites so the salad may be far more filling for not many more calories. Not many people just order a Big Mac. Add a second Big Mac and/or a big order of fries and you'll be getting closer to a comparison of what most people actually eat. Calorie source matters when put in context of total food eaten per day. Most people aren't going to eat a 1000 calorie lunch and a 1000 calorie dinner and call it a day. If you think it terms of 3 meals/day plus any snacks, desserts, etc. it becomes more important to choose where the calories come from. 1000 calories of premium vanilla ice cream is less than 1 lb. of ice cream (less than 2 cups), 1000 calories of lettuce is somewhere around 14 lbs. of lettuce. You can eat lettuce all day every day until you're so full you couldn't stuff another leaf down your throat and not eat anywhere close to 1000 calories a day. You can get that in one or two bowls of ice cream. Of course all of that only matters in terms of weight loss/gain... which is not the only factor in healthy eating.

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It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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indeed.

 

Im a bit more interested in the fact that the targeted markets are different.

 

calories is just a marker or measurement that related to being hungry, understanding that's just the tip of the iceburg

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I bet the targeted markets for the 'fast burger' and the 'virtuous salad' are different.

 

Yeah it's a rather incoherent article, I don't know what to think of it.

Fast-casual and big fast food are very different...different markets, vastly different business models, much different clientele for the most part.

 

 

You can't freely GIVE organic vegetables and the like to folks who don't want them....forget about them paying for it!!!

I speak from personal experience in liquidating premium organic farm surplus.


~Martin

Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist, contrarian and natural born skeptic who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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I don't find the article incoherent at all...as a matter of fact, I think it makes perfect sense.

 

There is a segment of the population that is willing to pay $10 for a salad from a "fast-food place"...though they may not be willing or able to pay over $300 for a meal at Blue Hill Stone Barns or Chez Panisse.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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There is a segment of the population that is willing to pay $10 for a salad

There is a very large segment of the population in North America that are willing to pay whatever they have to pay to avoid having to cook. There is a significant percentage of that segment that are willing to pay $10+ for salads. Not even fancy, exotic salads... just salads. Chef's, Caesar, etc. If a person could open a restaurant in an area with the right population to be able to sell nothing but salads and make a go of it, their profit margins would be huge. :biggrin: 

 

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It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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The pizzeria down the street sells a $9.45 chef's salad.....insane!!!!

For this area anyway!


~Martin

Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist, contrarian and natural born skeptic who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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I like to make my lunch from the self-serve salad/cold prepared food bars at Whole Foods. I can control the ingredients, I know exactly what I'm eating, fresher fruits/veg are in the offering, and I'm willing to pay a premium for that. It usually costs me in the neighborhood of $9 for the container - and no way I'd pay that much for a plain garden salad, I'm making a bowl with all kinds of veggies, grains, tofu, etc. However, I will balance that expense by bringing leftovers from home on some days to have for lunch. I am fortunate in that I can afford that "luxury" because for people of limited means, it's hard to eat well, affordably.


"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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There is a very large segment of the population in North America that are willing to pay whatever they have to pay to avoid having to cook. There is a significant percentage of that segment that are willing to pay $10+ for salads. Not even fancy, exotic salads... just salads. Chef's, Caesar, etc. If a person could open a restaurant in an area with the right population to be able to sell nothing but salads and make a go of it, their profit margins would be huge. :biggrin: 

 

 

It already exists (at least where I am)....  Mind you "Chop Crazy" also sells smoothies and sandwiches, but from what I've seen, most people get the build-your-own salad option.

 

www.chopcrazy.com

 

You can Google for pics of the place, if interested.  They're mostly in shopping mall food courts.

 

Joking aside though, re: food costs.  I would have thought since salad fixins are highly perishable and the making them somewhat labour intensive, this would drive up food costs (and therefore price).  The immediate example that comes to my mind is fish - restaurants pay for the whole thing, but after trimming and boning you've driven the price of that item up drastically.  No one likes to eat limp, brown lettuce after all.... 

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My thoughts? The pendulum swings...

 

Now if only Chipotle would put in drive-thru's... :cool:


“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

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