A recent report from Bloomberg News caught my eye with the headline: “McDonald’s Pursuit of Perfect Fries Risks Overpromising.” You can see why a nutrition educator might be compelled to read that story, right?
It seems that McDonald’s has realized people are becoming better educated about their food and its sources – or at least they want to be. So the fast food giant has been diligently creating videos about its ingredient suppliers, like a potato farmer who slices a potato on camera and happily reports, “Good potato!”
The Bloomberg reporter astutely noted, though, that even using “local” potatoes won’t change the fact that McDonald’s fries are swimming in unhealthy, artery-clogging fats. Someone at Mickey D’s is missing the point big time, but that’s not surprising. Even their salads are hardly the picture of healthfulness.
Now I like a good French fry as much as the next person, although I can’t tell you the last time I ate one. It was probably a few years ago at my neighborhood diner, which serves them homemade and addictively salty and crunchy. Like the rest of you, I have a hard time leaving any on my plate, so I tend to opt for a side salad instead to remove the temptation. Just writing about them now makes my mouth water.
In general, though, I’m not s big fan of white potatoes. Even when they’re not fried beyond all nutritional value, they hardly qualify as powerhouses of the nutrition world. Yet Americans eat gazillions of them every year; go figure. They’re uber-starchy, making them bad for blood sugar control, and they’re exceptionally bland, which explains the need for unhealthy additions like sour cream, bacon bits and cheese. I’m guessing it’s not even the potatoes Americans like so much – it’s how they’re prepared.
Give me a good sweet potato any day, which is packed with beta-carotene, tastes naturally sweet and needs virtually no embellishment. Although sweet potatoes are starches, too, they’re lower on the glycemic index – or, in today’s popular parlance, “slow carb.” That means they won’t spike your blood sugar and leave you crashing into a fuzzy stupor within an hour.
When you gotta have a fry, try making your own sweet potato version. Leave the skin on, cut them thin, brush them with olive oil and a mixture of paprika, cinnamon and sea salt, and bake for 30 minutes at 425 degrees. Take that, McDonald’s.