50 + Ingredient Milkshakes. Sigh…

by Meri on June 20, 2013

Yesterday was one of those days. It was late afternoon and HOT. The kids were getting that weird agitated heat thing complete with fighting, whining and what I call “scream play”. You know where they all think it’s hilarious to scream at the top of their lungs while playing. I needed to do something to break the cycle for my sanity. Milkshakes…let’s hop in the car, go to a Fast Food drive-through and get shakes. This of course changed their moods in an instant and got us out of the house.

Getting close to the order window my kids excitedly chose their favorites from the backseat:

Poppie: “I want the orange one!”

Mr.: “I want chocolate!”

Birdie: “I want the yellow one!”. urrr…I guess vanilla?

If you know me at all you’ll know I’m a dietitian who believes in moderation or as I like to say, balanced eating. Eat healthy delicious foods regularly and enjoy the fun of getting a shake or other treat in a balanced way. However, the fast food shake is sort of deflating for me as a fun and special treat. Mostly because the basic milk and cream we think of as a shake is hardly what you get.

According to Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, as many as fifty different chemicals are combined to mimic the smell and taste of strawberry in a fast food strawberry shake hidden by the terms “natural flavors” or “natural colors”. The argument; many of these additives are on the GRAS list (Generally Regarded as Safe), but this is seriously getting a little too sci-fi for me. It’s to a point where the actual food is no longer recognizable and is instead a compilation of chemicals. Companies use additives for taste, smell and texture, doesn’t this seem strange? What’s wrong with ice-cream, milk and strawberries blended together? I make this at home and it tastes great and has the perfect texture.

Researchers have found that brightly colored foods sell better, which in return drives the food companies. It may be that in our nation we expect foods to look bright and colorful because that’s what we’ve gotten used to, but serve a 3 year old a muddy brown smoothie made of veggies and fruit and they love it. I hope my kids will have the benefit of knowing what real food looks like.

I will remain a proponent of moderation, but with real food. I’m afraid fast food shakes will become an infrequent treat until I can find a place that makes good old fashioned ice-cream and blends it with real chocolate or strawberries. Until then, home-made it will be!

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