Stop Messing with My Daughter’s Happy Meal!

There are apples and other fruit sitting around my house, and my four-year-old daughter can eat an apple anytime. By contrast, she seldom gets to eat McDonald’s french fries. So when I go to McDonald’s, I want her Happy Meal to include french fries (which take time to cook), not apple slices. But under pressure from public-health activists and potential lawsuits, McDonald’s is now substituting apple slices for much of the french fries that historically came with a Happy Meal.

I have no idea why apple slices are such a fetish for public health activists. There’s nothing bad in an apple, but they’re not a paragon of nutrition, either — an apple has only a little over 10 percent of your day’s supply of vitamin C, not much different than an order of McDonald’s french fries (and after you slice up an apple, the vitamin C in it dissipates faster). An orange or grapefruit packs a lot more nutrition than an apple. (For dieters, though, apples are good, since they make you feel full fast. But I and my family don’t need to go on a diet.)

Many so-called public-health activists are ignorant control freaks. If they had any brains, they would support substituting baked potatoes for french fries, not apples. Baked potatoes have much more nutrition than apples.

But instead, those busybodies got the Obama administration to ban white potatoes from the federal WIC program (WIC money can be spent on far less nutritious things than potatoes, things that are starchy, fatty or sugary, like apple sauce, which has no nutrition unless vitamin C is artificially added to it).

The potato is superior to most foods in nutrients per dollar (and per acre of farmland), so much so that “in 2008, the United Nations declared it to be the ‘Year of the Potato'” because  “the potato is one of the most efficient crops for developing nations to grow, as a way of delivering a high level of nutrition to growing populations, with fewer needed resources than other traditional crops. In the summer of 2010, China approved new government policies that positioned the potato as the key crop to feed its growing population.” Potatoes provided much of the agricultural surplus that made the Industrial Revolution possible. Potatoes are more nutritious than other starchy foods like rice and bread, and “are a good source of vitamins.”  They have a lot of vitamin C (much more than a banana or an apple), and potassium levels slightly higher than potassium-rich bananas). Potatoes also have all eight essential amino acids, unlike most other staple foods like corn and beans.

The Obama administration earlier used federal funds to subsidize the opening of an International House of Pancakes in Washington, D.C. (despite its sugary menu), and the development of high-calorie foods that benefit politically connected agribusinesses. Its biofuel policies contributed to a food crisis in the Third World.

McDonald’s food gets demonized, but it’s not unusually unhealthy for restaurant fare. The foie gras served in fancy restaurants is much fattier than hamburgers. Quiche Lorraine is also fattier than a hamburger. I lost 10 pounds while working at McDonald’s.