Author: Lisa Tillinger Johansen, MS, RD
Publisher: J. Murray Press
Have fast food restaurants being unfairly signaled out as the bad guys when it comes to serving unhealthy meals? How would you compare them to sit-down restaurants or even eating at home? Do you believe if we totally abandoned fast food that we would solve most of society’s nutritional problems?
Lisa Tillinger Johansen, author of Fast Food Vindication believes that there is a great deal of negative misinformation proliferated by the media and some high profile critics that has given fast food restaurants the bad rap. She does admit, however, that sometimes it is well-founded, but not always and thus her objective in writing her book is to set the record straight as well as to make some sense of the often-conflicting information that often leaves consumers confused and misguided. Although, as Johansen states, it may be true that fast food restaurants have their share of less-healthy food, often we overlook that they also offer healthy food. Also, not enough attention is paid to other eating establishments that likewise offer less-healthy items and these include school cafeterias, vending machines, supermarkets, convenience stores and even our own homes.
Although useful information can be garnered from such books as Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation and Morgan Spurlock’s documentary Super Size Me, Johansen does not agree with all of their messages and supports her position with well-documented data contained within various chapters of her book. Furthermore, she states that “the danger of heaping blame on the fast food industry, especially to the exclusion of other causes, is that it may obscure other threats-solutions.”
Divided into thirteen chapters, a conclusion and fifty-nine pages of impressive references, the book explores such topics as the futility of blaming fast food for all of our ills, peoples’ responsibility when it comes to what they eat, making exercise part of your daily routine, what will you accomplish if you ban fast food, an overview of the fast food industry and its important contributions to society, wrongly blaming fast food restaurants for the obesity epidemic in America, improving our eating habits, and creating an action plan that is not only applicable to eating out but also at the to the meals we prepare at home.
No doubt and without knowing anything about the book’s contents, many readers will react instinctively with skepticism to Johansen’s message. However, trust me on this one, give the book a chance and you won’t be disappointed with this engaging and informative investigation of the fast food industry. Johansen has done an excellent job in organizing her material and backing up her arguments. She even provides her readers with highlighted boxes containing useful and sometimes startling information. As an example, would you believe that there is a restaurant in Arizona, Las Vegas and Dallas called Heart Attack Grill that serves hamburgers named Quadruple Bypass Burger containing 8,000 calories; Flatliner Fries, deep-fried in lard; and butterfat milkshakes? The waitresses wear nurse uniforms and anyone who weighs 350 pounds or more gets a free meal. The restaurant’s slogan is “A Burger to Die For.”
Lisa Tillinger Johansen is a registered dietician employed in the health education department at a major Southern California hospital. She also teaches nutrition to at-risk senior adults as part of a grant program. She has spent seven years as a real estate executive at McDonald’s Corporation and emphatically states in the introduction to her book that she was not turned off by the ways this fast food giant was operating.
Follow Here To Read Norm’s Interview With Lisa Tillinger Johansen