My kids love apples, and that makes me happy. Apples are one of nature's most perfect foods. They're full of all sorts of nutrition and sealed in a beautiful red wrapper that keeps them safe. Just wash them and eat up. But my kids hate fast food apple slices, and to be honest, I would just as soon they eat a few more French fries than a package of apple slices with their favorite kids' meals.
Fast food apple slices are sour
Instead of serving real, whole apples, many fast food chains have started adding packaged apple slices to their kids' meals, either as an option or as standard fare. McDonald's recently answered a consumer's question about how their apple slices stay so crisp and resist turning brown. They said, "McDonald's apples slices are simply dipped in a Vitamin C solution and packaged in a sealed bag to maintain a fresh, crisp taste."
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is used as a preservative wash that helps keep the cut apples from oxidizing. But acids are sour, and too much ascorbic acid can give food a very unpleasant taste. My kids, who love freshly cut apple slices served plain or with a peanut butter dip, can't stand the taste of Happy Meal apples.
Uneaten food is a waste
No matter how healthy a food selection may be as compared to its alternative, it is a waste if it is uneaten. I know that even though the packaged apple slices are not tasty, they are still a healthier choice than fries, but that doesn't matter if the acid wash burns your tongue.
I don't necessarily want my kids to eat more fries, but on the occasions when we order a Happy Meal at McDonald's, I always order their meal with no apples, if only to avoid adding more plastic garbage to landfills. If McDonald's cut fresh apple slices in the store, or served whole apples, we'd be thrilled to choose those over fries. But since the kids won't eat the apples anyway, all we're really doing is contributing to the trash pile if we take them.
Packaged produce can be dangerous
There have been many cases of food borne illnesses originating from produce in recent years. A major recall of apple slices used in fast food meals was announced on August 10. These apple slices, distributed by Ready Pac Foods, came from a facility in which the potentially deadly listeria bacteria was found. This bacteria is particularly dangerous to pregnant women and unborn children, but has the potential to kill anyone who is infected.
Fries, while more likely to lead to obesity if eaten in excess, are at least cooked at high temperatures moments before being served and are very unlikely to kill you through food borne microbial illness.
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