Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy

Eating Smart When Dining Out

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Issues page and our All About Organics page.

    Do you regard eating out as a bit of a respite from your daily life? A time to let someone else do the cooking, and perhaps treat yourself to something more indulgent that you don't normally eat?

 Restaurant chains are on to this sentiment, and they've responded by offering customers increasingly decadent dishes that are simply not good for your health. I'm talking about:
  • A milk shake that has a slice of apple pie blended in (Johnny Rockets)      
  • Country fried steak served with pancakes, potatoes, gravy and syrup (nearly a days' worth of calories in one meal, thanks to IHOP)     
  • A massive portion of macaroni and cheese that has two days' worth of sodium (Uno Chicago Grill)         
  • A slice of chocolate cake that weighs nearly one pound and contains 26 teaspoons of added sugar (Maggiano's Little Italy)  and the list goes on and on

 Media reports often focus on the calorie content of such massive meals, along with the saturated fat and sodium. Clearly, overeating to this extent can easily pack on the pounds, especially if your eating out is not just a "treat" but more of a daily routine   But there's more to these meals than simply extra calories, fat and salt 

Do You Know Where Most Restaurant Food Comes From?

 Eating the food at nearly every fast food chain (except maybe Chipotle and a few other restaurants committed to sustainable, organic suppliers) and even most sit-down restaurants means you are likely consuming feedlot animal meat - flesh that comes from animals raised in crowded unsanitary conditions, fed massive doses of antibiotics and unnatural "frankenfeed" full of genetically modified (GM) crops and some other truly disturbing ingredients.

 This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the decidedly unhealthy practices that go on at a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation).

 The problem begins at the massive CAFOs where the beef, chicken or pigs are fed genetically modified corn and soybeans and excessive grains in general (which are not the natural diet of these animals), along with the following almost unbelievable feed ingredients:

  • Plastics -- for the many animals whose digestive systems need roughage to pass food through them, the CAFOs now use plastic pellets.     
  • Meat from members of the same species -- CAFOs turn farm animals into cannibals. Scientific research has linked this practice to the spread of both mad cow disease and avian bird flu.     
  • Manure and animal feces-- this can include cattle manure, swine waste, and poultry waste. It also includes wood, sand, rocks, dirt, sawdust and other non-food substances.     
  • Roxarsone -- more commonly known as arsenic, which until recently was put into chicken and pig feed to control intestinal parasites that might cause them to eat less and grow slower. Chicken litter (containing the arsenic that passes through the birds) is also collected from chicken CAFOs and fed to feedlot cattle, for some apparent reason that defies common sense.     
  • Animal byproducts -- categorized as "animal protein products," this includes rendered feathers, hair, skin, hooves, blood, internal organs, intestines, beaks and bones, dead horses, euthanized cats and dogs, and road kill.

Get 20% off Mercola products, plus 20% of the sale goes to Organic Consumers Association.

Get Local

Find News and Action for your state:
Regeneration International

Cool the planet.
Feed the world.