Tag Archives: lunch break

Subway is Bigger than McDonald’s, But is it Better?

image via NMA.TV

Subway has given McDonald’s a good thumping.
About a year ago Subway surpassed the long time leader in restaurant count, and McDonald’s has been choking on Subway’s dust ever since with a mere 33,000+ locations to Subway’s nearly 36,000.

Subway owes much of its success to its image as a healthy alternative to the traditional fast food meal of burger and fries. The chain gets a lot of traction from its ‘Eat Fresh’ slogan, and especially from an innovative ad campaign promoting a weight loss angle through spokesman Jared Fogle who reportedly lost 245 pounds by exercising and eating only Subway sandwiches. The company now has a lucrative hold on the minds of fast food eaters as the virtuous option.

According to the marketing researchers at Decision Analyst, more Subway customers than any other quick-serve restaurant patrons (42%, versus a low of 3% for Taco Bell) choose the restaurant because of its selection of healthy offerings. Subway also rates highest in consumer trust; in fact it’s the only one of these restaurant with more people who ‘completely trust’ their nutritional claims than ’do not trust’ them (again, Taco Bell is in the cellar with just 7.5% of consumers putting faith in their claims).

Subway says its better, and we believe it’s better, but is it really?

The truth is, you can eat a low-cal, low-fat meal at either chain, albeit one loaded with hormones, pesticides, preservatives, and sodium. Both chains offer their share of options, though McDonald’s selection of snack-sized wraps and salads feels meager and skimpy next to Subway’s assortment of meal-sized 300 calorie subs. But Subway more than holds its fat-laden own when it comes to core menu items. The chain’s top-seller is the B.M.T., short for Biggest, Meatiest, Tastiest; the 6 inch version, at 450 calories, is on par with McDonald’s Big ‘N Tasty, and the best-selling meatball marinara sub, also in the small size, tops the Big Mac by an (un)healthy margin. Opt for a 12 incher- even chicken or tuna- and you can be eating a thousand-calorie sandwich. Get it on Subway’s honey oat roll and the bread alone snags you more than 500 calories.

Researchers have also found something they call a ‘health halo’ associated with a Subway meal. Consumers are so familiar with Subway’s claims as the healthier choice that they will underestimate the calories they are actually consuming. The misperception that they are being ‘good’ influences them to be ‘bad’ with other food choices: studies have shown Subway diners to be more inclined to justify an order of chips or dessert, and one study’s participants ended up consuming 56% more calories than those eating at McDonald’s.

Basically, eating at any fast food restaurant is like jumping out of a window. It doesn’t really matter if it’s the 30th floor or the 40th; the net effect to your health will be pretty much the same.



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Mmm…mmm…Maybe not so good

image via Brainless Tales

You might want to lay off the canned soup.
I really hate to ask you now, it being soup season and all, but the latest report is a real shocker.

A new Harvard study, which was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, found that just a single bowl of canned soup at lunch for just five days increased BPA levels in urine by an astounding 1,200%. The researchers were shocked by the results, one calling it “unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”

This was the first study to measure BPA amounts that are ingested when we eat food that comes directly out of a can, but the health risks have been the subject of hundreds of studies. There’s a growing body of research linking BPA to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. The FDA will be issuing a decision on BPA use by the end of March 2012, but Consumers Union, the group that publishes the magazine Consumer Reports, has already weighed in with its recommendations, and it found BPA levels exceeding 100 times the recommended daily limit in some soups (worst of all is Progresso Vegetable Soup at 116 times the limit).

Waiter, there’s a toxin in my soup!
Take a look inside any can and you’ll see a thin plastic film separating your food from the metal. That’s where the BPA is coming from. Manufacturers have been lining cans with plastic since the 1950s to protect the food from botulism and other bacteria that can grow if the can is damaged or corroded, and there’s no doubt that lives have been saved.

Plastic-lined cans have been so effective at preventing food-borne illnesses that it’s next to impossible to find a BPA-free can of soup. Nearly all aluminum soup cans, even organic brands, contain BPA in the linings. But you can keep soup on the menu: opt for dry soup mixes or prepared soups packaged in glass or cartons, or best of all, make your own.

BPA is of particular concern for young children and women of childbearing age.
The Breast Cancer Fund, which is leading the charge to expose environment causes of cancer, has specific recommendations for reducing the risk to those vulnerable groups.

BPA isn’t the only one.
Experts from a variety of food-related fields offer insider recommendations of foods to avoid. These are foods that are all USDA or FDA approved, but those in the know won’t eat them, and they won’t feed them to their own families.
Read Gigabiting’s 7 Foods the Experts Won’t Touch.



Posted in food knowledge, food policy, health + diet | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Don’t Let the Weekday Lunch Go the Way of the 8-Track Tape.


Lunch hour? Yeah, right.

Nearly half of all American office workers eat lunch at their desks three times a week; about a quarter of them do so everyday, and another 27% don’t even bother with eating. When a break is taken, it’s nearly always 30 minutes or less.

Blame it on the new, global capitalism. It’s lean and hungry. Time zones have lost all relevance when the workday clock is always ticking somewhere. In the modern work environment, overworking is worn as a badge of honor; taking time out for a leisurely lunch is seen as shirking. Out to lunch’ is no longer just an idiom for someone who is out of touch and out of the loop—with a hamster wheel that never stops spinning, you step off at your own peril. […]

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Can Your Boss Make You Be a Vegetarian?

Is a meat-free office policy going too far?

A former employee of an eco-friendly accessories manufacturer claims that her rights as a meat-eater were violated by company policy.
The company’s 18 employees are barred from bringing animal products in their lunches, and they are required to order vegetarian items when they dine in a restaurant with a client. The complainant says she was reduced to smuggling food into the office in her purse, or sneaking out to her car for a bite of a contraband tuna sandwich. […]

Posted in food policy, vegetarian/vegan | Tagged , | 2 Comments

What Not to Eat on a Job Interview


With unemployment hovering around 10%, it’s a safe bet that some of you are heading out on job interviews.
Interviews are stressful, nerve-wracking, and brain-draining. When the interview takes place over a meal, you’re throwing food on top of the stomach-churning anxiety.

You’ve got the warm smile and the hearty handshake down pat. You know how to listen carefully and formulate intelligent answers. But while eating?
Here are some ordering tips that can help you stay on your game during a meal-time interview. […]

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C is for Cafeteria: A look at school lunches


Inside the school cafeteria

It’s just like you remember: loud and chaotic, lunch ladies in hairnets, pizza Fridays. The lines are long, the meat is still a mystery, and most of what’s brought from home gets tossed.

Less familiar are the trading bans and peanut-free zones to accommodate allergies, the absence of any actual cooking, and the runaway rates of childhood obesity and diabetes.

The National School Lunch Program provides commodities and subsidies to public and private schools that offer free or reduced-price meals. This year’s subsidy was $2.68 for each free lunch down to 25¢ for full-priced lunches. At that rate, most districts can afford food costs of about 90¢ for each lunch served. […]

Posted in food policy, food safety, kids | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Street Food Minus the Street


Food trucks were the darlings of the food world in 2009.

Take the recessionary economy. Add in the food savvy to swap withered hot dogs for trendy dishes like red velvet cupcakes or the Asian-fusion of Korean tacos. Give it a boost of tech savvy with Twittered locations and daily specials. And that’s how street food grew into a full-fledged culinary phenomenon.

Street food has the intrinsic charm of a communal, democratic experience. It’s cheap and casual with no dress code or reservations required. It is also hurried and messy. Instead of a maitre d’ to seat you, you have to cop a squat on a bench or curb. There are squirt bottle condiments, flimsy plastic cutlery, and the ambiance of the streets, with its attendant bus fumes, car alarms, and weather.

Ultimately, street food proved to be a little too street for many of us.

That’s why this year’s trend is the gentrification of street food. […]

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Don’t Be a Picnic Hater: Love it and Green it


  • it’s relaxing
  • it’s affordable
  • there’s still plenty of time to worry about fitting into your swimsuit

Why not go on a picnic?

What do you mean you hate picnics? I suppose you don’t like puppies, rainbows, or ice cream either!

We’re not talking about something out of an episode of Survivor; just a patch of green and a sack of food. No forced march, no cooking over fire. You don’t even have to touch a frisbee if you don’t want to.

Just one requirement: you gotta go green. All of those cups and plates and little plastic forks add up to an awful lot of trash, much of it the kind that sits for all eternity in a landfill. There’s no excuse for all of that waste. With plenty of eco-friendly choices, nearly everything at your picnic can be reused, recycled, or composted. […]

Posted in Entertainment, sustainability, Travel | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

A Sandwich by Any Other Name

Customer in French restaurant: Do you have frogs’ legs?
Waiter: Yes Sir.
Customer: Then hop into the kitchen and get me a ham sandwich!


What satisfies like a sandwich?

.At its most basic, a sandwich is two slices of bread enclosing a filling. Those fillings can be hearty, refined, exotic, or homey. The sandwich is a blank canvas on which to paint the colors and contours of the world around us.

The sandwich canon expands with each new wave of immigration. The format is flexible enough to absorb them all, crystallizing the flavors and essence of each cuisine. […]

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Food Porn: Look, but don’t touch!


“It is a matter of physics, a scientific fact that the human body reacts in very similar ways when anticipating food and sex. Capillaries swell, lips and membranes become engorged, saliva thickens and the pulse rises. It’s no accident that the two pleasures have become… confused.”

Anthony Bourdain,  No Reservations


What’s Your Food Porn Preference?

Fat or skinny. Exotic or plain. Enhanced or au naturel.

Food Porn and the x-rated variety make use of the same visual language and techniques, full of provocative camera angles, exaggerated features, and saturated colors. The subject matters differ, but they push our primal buttons in the same way.

Lust-inducing, visceral images of food porn are everywhere. It’s the lingering, loving shots of decadent burgers in fast food advertising. It’s the food-centric shows on television, which long gave up on practical instruction to focus on feats of performance and visual spectacle.

The fetishists are all represented: the raw foodists, the bacon-worshipers, the cupcake-lovers, the kink of butchery, the puritanical vegans, and plenty of plain vanilla.

Does Food Porn Make us Fat?

Jam-glazed pears glisten atop butter-brown pastry; golden rivulets of herb-flecked butter overflow the pillowy center of a steamy biscuit; deeply charred fat surrounds the just-grilled steak sliced to reveal its ruby interior. We understand that the imagery of food porn is a hyper-idealized version of what we go home to in the same way that we know that our romantic partners are not Penelope Cruz or Brad Pitt. And just like the bedroom variety, culinary porn is about voyeurism— the daring, exotic, and extreme may be watched by many but practiced by few.

Evidence suggests that tempting food imagery might actually serve as a deterrent to indulgence. New Scientist cited a study in which weight-conscious women were shown images of either food or flowers (under the guise of a memory test). When the women were offered a snack, those who had been shown a lushly-photographed chocolate cake were significantly more likely to opt for a healthy option than the flower group. As counterintuitive as it seems, researchers believe that tempting food images can actually heighten self-control in a dieter, strengthening their resolve to make healthy choices.

Food porn: you know it when you see it!

Go ahead and take a peek:

Flickr has a vast repository of more than 300,000 photos submitted by members of its food porn group.

The blogs Tastespotting, FoodGawker, and FoodPornDaily are curated collections of user-submitted food photography.

The Tumblr blog This Is Why You’re Fat celebrates the fatty, cheesy, greasy, meaty, and over-sized. Destined for glory, it dazzled the online food community by reaching 1.3 million page views on the day after its launch. The inevitable book deal took a few more weeks.

Midtown Lunch started by cataloging the inexpensive options available to midtown Manhattan’s rabid, ravenous office workers with no more than a lunch hour to spare. Snapshots of styrofoam and foil-wrapped bundles, takeout containers and diner dishes are artfully assembled to create a daily collage. Midtown has been joined by lower Manhattan and Philadelphia editions with more cities in the works.



Posted in media | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Food Gone Wrong

Kanye Wurst

Kanye Wurst courtesy of Food’lebrities

Food can be funny.
Cake Wrecks tapped into this big time. Documenting the sad, silly, creepy, and inappropriate from the world of professional baking, the Cake Wrecks blog has more than one million followers on Twitter and was turned into a bestselling book.

Cake Wrecks is not alone out there.
Following are some of my favorite internet sites documenting the entertainment value of food. […]

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Must love sandwiches


Sexy ovo-lacto vegetarian on the hunt for the perfect creme brulee.

- ad courtesy of TuttiPersonals/TuttiFoodie.com

Would you date someone who doesn’t like Chinese Food? Or chocolate? Or wine?
What if you’re chevre on a crusty baguette and they’re Velveeta on white? You’re low carbs and they’re pancake breakfasts?

Forget about personality types, pheromones, and horoscope signs; true compatibility is all about the food. […]

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Lunchtime: Death by Internet

The British newspaper The Telegraph recently published a list of 50 things that are being killed by the Internet.

The list itemized some of the bygone civilities that we will miss: handwritten letters (#12); the pleasures of flipping through a photo album (#15): or listening to a record all the way through (#3). There were relics we haven’t noticed in years: telephone directories (#8); footnotes instead of links (#47); and street corner prostitution (#45). And a few significant losses that could drive a person to Ludditism: punctuality (#5); memory (#13); privacy (#31); and enforceable copyright protection (#22). […]

Posted in Entertainment, shopping, workplace | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment
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