How Fast Food Can Be Tasty And Healthy
Mark Bittman searches for a new standard in fast casual dining
By Ruth Brown, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2013 4:15 PM CDT
Fish tacos, as seen on LYFE Kitchen's website.   (

(Newser) – Americans are increasingly seeking out healthier, higher-quality and more humane food. So when will the fast food industry catch up? Mark Bittman, who just wrote a book on that very topic, poses the question in the New York Times Magazine. He finds that "fast casual" outfits like Chipotle—which he dubs "Improved Fast Food"—have upped the game with local ingredients and fresh preparation, but still offer the choice to smother your food in cheese and sour cream, and they're not exactly cheap.

"Despite its flaws, Improved Fast Food is the transitional step to a new category of fast-food restaurant" with sustainable practices, and affordable, healthy food, Bittman predicts. "This new category is, or will be, Good Fast Food." He goes exploring for this new species in the wilds of California strip malls, where a contender emerges: Lyfe Kitchen, which aims to build 250 locations in five years with upmarket fare like salmon, risotto, and brussels sprouts. "My hope is that Lyfe will evolve ... and be successful enough that they have a real impact on the way we think of fast food," writes Bittman. Click for his full article.

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Apr 8, 2013 11:48 AM CDT
If there was a fast place that would prepare home made meals to go that were not frozen and microwaved, I would go there for lunch every day. I'm talking meals like you would make for your family made from scratch without the preservatives and added fat/salt/oil/grease, but single portion size. I would even pay more and call in my order in advance for pick up. That way my lunch would be fresh, hot and fast enough for me to leave work, pick up and return to work with even giving me some time to eat it. When my family is tight on time for dinner in the evenings, I could place my order ahead of time, stop and pick this up on the way home, actually eat dinner and still get everyone to the evening activities without resorting to frozen foods or unhealthy fast foods. Fortunately there is a few places like this in IN where my hubby works during the week or he would be stuck with some yucky food (his cooking is not always so good). There is a little hole in the wall placed that a family runs real close to the plant where he works. The make almost every kind of vegetable and healthy, along with pork loin to fish to pasta to pizza with daily specials. There are some greasy offerings on the menu, but the good stuff far out weighs the unhealthy. Right now I have to settle for whatever my 3 teenagers leave me from the night before or frozen meals that sometimes I'd rather eat the box. That is if my 3 teenagers leave me any leftovers. Most of the time I hit this little Italian deli with great sandwiches and pasta. But you can only eat at the same place so many times.
Apr 7, 2013 10:44 PM CDT
I have to eat carefully nowadays and would love to be able to eat more healthy fast food, but... BRUSSELS SPROUTS? Does it really come down to choosing between the stuff that'll kill me or the stuff I'd rather die than eat?
Apr 7, 2013 8:05 PM CDT
"Americans are increasingly seeking out healthier, higher-quality and more humane food" Empirical evidence does not support that statement. Maybe a few Americans are seeking better food, but the reason fast food restaurants serve high fat, high calorie food is that is what the majority of Americans are eating and want to eat. Yesterday, a guy checked out in front of me at the grocery store. He had two large bags of potato chips, sour cream chip dip, a 12-pack of Bud, 2 -two liter bottles of soda, and a pack of cigarettes. And everyone wonders why health care costs are so high.