I saw on the 11:00 news last night that a third Chick-Fil-A location is opening up in Cleveland and that they’re giving away a year’s worth of free chicken sandwiches to the first 100 people that show up. I was highly disturbed. People were camping out in line overnight, people had driven from Pennsylvania to go to this thing, their weird cows were dancing around in the parking lot, and a lot of hairy-looking 20-something guys and overweight, middle-aged types were camped out, singing the praises of the Chick-Fil-A.
For me, the most disturbing part of the news story was a brief interview with a woman who had not only camped out overnight, but purchased $50 of stuff, like a tent, blankets, gloves and extra clothes, in order to wait in line. What?!? She paid to wait in line all night so that she could get fattening food for the rest of the year?
Woah! Isn’t this kind of hype part of why the CDC continues to report dramatic increases in obesity every year? And, perhaps more importantly, why do people only get excited about food that no one in their right mind who wanted to avoid obesity would eat more than twice a year? In Ohio, nearly 30 percent of people are considered obese. That’s more than 1 in 4.
I’m not saying that Chick-Fil-A in particular is a bad company. My point is that I wish there were a public outlet for people to get excited about healthy foods. I was sitting there watching the news story thinking, if this were a local food co-op or CSA event, there’s no way it would make the local news! Do we need to brainstorm publicity stunts to get people to eat healthy foods?
I heard an NPR story today about an artist who decided to test his theory that people buy things simply based on the packaging. What did he do? He picked up trash off the streets of New York, labeled it and started selling it. Demand has driven his prices up, and now his exclusive discarded pop cans and other litter are fetching prices up to $60 each.
So maybe if there were a better way to package and market fresh fruits and vegetables, people would eat them more. I’ve seen so many ads lately about the almonds grown in California and of course Florida orange juice. But is there something local farmers could do locally? Is it just the common misconception that fresh foods are more expensive and take longer to prepare?
Maybe there are things we can do to help promote healthy foods. Last summer I worked for a non-profit in Columbus that put on all kinds of nutrition and cooking classes in low-income neighborhoods, designed for a food stamp budget. They’re doing a lot to help people there, in Dayton and also here in Cleveland.
So maybe we just need an association or something for local food growers to market their products. What do you think? Do you have any ideas? Or, is Chick-Fil-A harmless healthy food, as they seem to imply on their website?