Posted on Aug 11, 2011
Toss the Empty Calories, Say Hello to Healthy America!
In a country obsessed with counting calories and limiting carbs, a new franchise has been born.
The United States is experiencing a huge push to increase transparency of food labeling, with the ultimate goal of improving Americans’ health -- subsequently decreasing its bloated obesity rate. This comes as a welcome addition to America’s food industry, which as a whole showed little interest in improving the healthfulness of its food until very recently. As portion sizes continued to grow, so too did the bellies of serial food bingers. According to the Let's Move! (more on them later) website, Portions are now 2 to 5 times bigger than they were in years past, and beverages, the silent killer for packing on empty calories, have also grown drastically in size. Overall, Americans are estimated to eat 31 percent more calories now than in 1970, including 56 percent more fats and oils.
However, there is a ship that is slowly but surely sailing towards a fitter America, and First Lady Michelle Obama is captain. At the launch party on February 9th, 2010 for Obama’s brainchild Let’s Move! she told attendees, "The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake." By encouraging both children and adults to stay active, the Let’s Move! launch was a huge step towards allowing said nation to achieve her goal.
Another program with similar goals is Kids LiveWell, which strives to curb the childhood obesity epidemic. The numbers concerning children's health in this country are particularly disturbing. Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled. Today, nearly one in three children in America is overweight or obese. In African American and Hispanic communities, nearly 40 percent of the children are overweight or obese. At this rate, one third of all children born in 2000 or later are expected to suffer from diabetes at some point in their lives, while numerous others could face issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and asthma – all serious problems that would be sure to worsen quality of life.
Thankfully, there is a number of participating restaurants in the Kids LiveWell program. Participating Kids LiveWell locations offer “healthful meal items for children, with a particular focus on increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy, and limiting unhealthy fats, sugars and sodium,” according to the group’s website. At present, there are over 15,000 participating Kids LiveWell restaurant locations nationwide, to be exact. And this is a number that Mrs. Obama is sure to be proud of given the program’s youth.
An innovative participant in the Kids LiveWell program is Tossed, one of the few restaurant franchises whose main focus is on salad creations. Beyond salads, Tossed franchise stores sell crepes and healthy sandwiches. In addition to offering healthy food options, the company's website hosts an incredibly useful and unique page which allows users to create a salad online and print out the final recipe to bring to the store and order. As users pick and choose different ingredients, a nutrition facts box, similar to one that would be found on the label of most food products found in supermarkets, is updated in real time. Brian Chodash, VP of marketing for Tossed, commented on the feature, “We wanted to highlight the nutritional facts and how they change as customers design their own unique meals. This tossed.com menu feature gives customers looking to design a healthy salad the ability to do so in a fun, interactive way that is also informative.” Foodies everywhere, whether the opportunity to eat at Tossed is present or not, would find this tool to be incredibly useful and interesting.
[caption id="attachment_8168" align="aligncenter" width="513" caption="Comparison of Tossed Caesar Salads Using the Online Tool (Left w/ Parmesan, Right w/o Parmesan)"][/caption]
The Tossed concept, which originated in New York, has been well-received. There are currently 4 Tossed locations in Texas, New York, Massachusettes and North Carolina, with over seven new locations in the works. The restaurant was founded in 1998 in Park Avenue South, NYC. The chain has received critical acclaim, being dubbed “New York’s best salad” by New York Magazine, and “The granddaddy of the salad movement” by the NY Post. Prospects for the chain look excellent, as the country continues its push toward a healthier America.
As Americans continue to accept the benefits of eating healthier, there will be more of a push in the restaurant industry towards offering healthier foods. Many restaurants have already chosen to serve the country and participate in programs such as Kids LiveWell. The Tossed franchise is arguably far ahead of the curve, already offering a healthy menu in addition to an exceptional online tool to help customers track their calories and maintain a healthy diet.
NEXT POST: Getting into Baby Boomers ...