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Is Fast Food Always Fake Food? These 5 Chains Say ‘No’

Is Fast Food Always Fake Food? These 5 Chains Say ‘No’

Fast food is rarely good food. That’s just a fact. In order to be cheap and prepared in a flash, chain restaurants opt for low quality, highly processed ingredients. Then they throw it in a microwave, further depleting any nutrients, and serve it up in wasteful disposable packaging. Just thinking about it is enough to turn the stomach.

Consumer awareness about the social, environmental and health consequences of fast food is growing rapidly. Pressure from the public has encouraged many of these chains to clean up their act. They’re still not what I would consider “healthy,” but the restaurants listed below are taking significant steps to improve the quality of their food.

5 Chain Restaurants That Are Dumping Fake Food

1. Panera

panera bread

I worked at this fast-casual chain for almost three years during college. I can tell you firsthand that their menu is already leaps and bounds above other places where you can be served in minutes. According to a recent announcement, however, Panera is getting ready to up the ante. The chain’s new food policy will eliminate all artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors and preservatives from the menu by 2016. The company also announced it is removing artificial trans-fats from its standard bakery-cafe menu.

2. Starbucks

starbucks

In 2009, this popular coffee shop chain committed to removing artificial flavors, dyes, HFCS and artificial sweeteners from its food products and removing artificial preservatives “whenever possible.” As the Food Babe reports in marvelous detail, they’ve been slow to take action on those promises. Still, it stopped using crushed up bugs to color the strawberry Frapuccinos, and many stores now carry bananas, organic dried fruit and some quality granola bars without synthetic ingredients.

3. Chipotle

chipotle

Unlike many fast-casual restaurants, Chipotle started off semi-healthy. According to this response from the company, Chipotle does not use artificial colors, TBHQ , BHA, BHT, MSG or sodium nitrate in any of its foods. This fast-casual Mexican food chain made headlines when it became the first fast food company in the U.S. to label GMOs on their menu. But they didn’t stop there. Earlier this year, Chipotle’s CEO announced that they were taking steps to eliminate GMOs from the menu completely. They also recently launched a non-GMO vegan option as well.

4. Subway

subway

In early 2014, the world was shocked to learn that Subway’s bread contained Azodicarbonamide, a chemical primarily used in the rubber and plastics industries, as well as in some pesticides. After a survey protesting the ingredient gathered more than 50,000 signatures, Subway agreed to remove the ingredient. Now it’s patting itself on the back with a series of commercial that make it sound like it was all their idea, but that’s to be expected. Subway is also experimenting with vegan options.

5. Burgerville

burgerville

This Pacific Northwest-based chain has around 40 locations in Oregon and Washington. “Burgerville’s model is based on creating personal relationships with farmers in the area, working with growers to understand who they are and what they can provide and then introducing them to Burgerville’s distribution partner, Sysco,” wrote Anna Brones for EcoSalon. The company’s burgers are made with pastured, vegetarian-fed and antibiotic-free beef from local farms, and their seasonal milkshakes often feature local fruits as well.

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Images via Thinkstock, Mike Mozart, marcopako, Mike Mozart, badswan, Mike Mozart

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80 comments

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9:38PM PDT on Jun 25, 2014

no, of course not

7:11PM PDT on Jun 23, 2014

Thanks

2:33PM PDT on Jun 23, 2014

Thanks.

12:47PM PDT on Jun 23, 2014

When Starbuck's get rumbled they always make some minor concession: as they have done over their tax dodging in the UK - pretending their stores make a loss because their Swiss company, that well known alpine coffee growing nation, sells them their coffee beans at such a high price - whilst carrying on as before.

There can be good fast food: Nando's is a South African company that does grilled chicken, which is pretty hard to beat - but it is three times as expensive as KFC.

2:48PM PDT on Jun 22, 2014

Good to hear. More chains should follow.

5:01AM PDT on Jun 22, 2014

Home made is best.Thanks

11:39PM PDT on Jun 21, 2014

Ty

11:39PM PDT on Jun 21, 2014

Ty

7:03PM PDT on Jun 21, 2014

do you really expect the truth from them???????????????

4:30PM PDT on Jun 21, 2014

Excuse my cynicism while I chortle sarcastically.

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