The greatest food in human history

Posted by on Jul 29, 2013 at 7:40 am

What is “the cheapest, most nutritious and bountiful food that has ever existed in human history” Hint: It has 390 calories. It contains 23g, or half a daily serving, of protein, plus 7% of daily fiber, 20% of daily calcium and so on.

Also, you can get it in 14,000 locations in the US and it usually costs $1. Presenting one of the unsung wonders of modern life, the McDonald’s McDouble cheeseburger.

The argument above was made by a commenter on the Freakonomics blog run by economics writer Stephen Dubner and professor Steven Leavitt, who co-wrote the million-selling books on the hidden side of everything.

Dubner mischievously built an episode of his highly amusing weekly podcast around the debate. Many huffy back-to-the-earth types wrote in to suggest the alternative meal of boiled lentils. Great idea. Now go open a restaurant called McBoiled Lentils and see how many customers line up.

But we all know fast food makes us fat, right? Not necessarily. People who eat out tend to eat less at home that day in partial compensation; the net gain, according to a 2008 study out of Berkeley and Northwestern, is only about 24 calories a day.

Full story.

One Response to “The greatest food in human history”

  1. MT Geoff on 30/30/13 at 5:36 pm

    First, the most important single element in food is calories — without them, you die in a few weeks. Ugly weeks. The term “empty calories” is a nanny-bully term.
    Those calories come from fats, proteins and carbohydrates and your diet should have all three of those. Trying to live any one of them will work for a while but is hard on your system.
    Second, a modern diet of any variety — anything except an exclusive diet of breat and meat, say — will have enough vitamins and minerals to meet your needs readily. There’s very little evidence that extra vitamins and minerals have health benefits, although there’s some legitimate debate about what the daily requirements are. If you get a few fruits, vegetables and potatoes into the mix, you’ll have a reasonably healthy diet.
    Third, you can eat a perfectly healthy diet from McDonald’s or Arby’s, especially now that these places have burgers with lettuce and tomato on them. Throw in the options of wraps and things like that and you’ll do just fine if that’s what you want.
    Fourth, I am not a dietician but I do have some medical background and I do a lot reading. I know there’s room to debate my post but it does have sound science behind it.
    So yes, cheers for healthy, hearty food, even — maybe especially — if it torques off the nanny-bullies.