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. (Read more Mark Bittman stories.)