Refusing to Double Down

Railing against quantity-based incentives in the food service industry

With the exception of a piece about a unique vegan restaurant run by a friend of mine, I don’t tend to write about food.  This is for what I believe is a very good reason: food narratives are boring.  While eating forms a pervasive and often crucial part of our individual lives, anyone having spent countless recreational minutes reviewing photos on their Facebook wall can tell you that our interest level in what other people are eating is, at best, moderate to low.

With that disclaimer/apology out of the way…let me tell you about my lunch today.

By way of background, I am attempting to eat healthier things, in an abstract, non-specific way.  I do not struggle with my weight per se, but have issues with its distribution.  My broad chest has an irritating habit of migrating southward, stopping just about my midsection.  I blame gravity, though cheeseburgers are alleged to have played a role.

To combat this unfortunate migration of mass, I am making a token effort to eat healthier things.  With encouragement from my wife, this includes juicing, which I have on strong authority is now a verb, and keeping healthier foodstuffs in the kitchen.

Since much of New York life involves eating on the run, I am also making a concerted effort to make healthier choices for my lunches.  This involved, at my last job, frequenting a fairly terrific salad spot, though for some reason the green stuff is absurdly expensive.  In the more limited surrounds of Bayside, where my current office is located, the healthy choice often comes down to that perennial low-cost, low-fat alternative, Subway.

Now, I like Subway.  Something about fresh veggies and bread helps me forget about tasty, medium rare patties of deliciousness, covered in cheese.  I often eat there for breakfast, as a flat-bread egg sandwich with a coffee is available for three bucks.  Today, however, I decided to go for lunch, resolved to try something new and under a million calories; when setting goals, the key is to keep them manageable.  My only beef (pun not intended) with East Coast Subway restaurants is the green slime they attempt to pass off as avocados.  Having spent eight years in California, I know avocados, I cooked with avocados, avocados were a friend of mine, and Subway’s green goop is no avocado.

For today’s meal, I settled on an eggplant Parmesan sandwich, which is at least reasonably healthy, provided I skip the white fat-paste in a bottle that tastes so, so delicious.   The problem that led to this erstwhile blog entry arose when I first asked for a six-inch sandwich.

“You know that’s four dollars, and for five you can get a footlong?”  the Sandwich Artist Mo asked me, grabbing a full twelve-inch loaf.

“Can I just have six inches for two-fifty?  Or how about three dollars?” I asked, answered only with a sad, slow head shake.  I assume his detached demeanor was because he is an artist.

Now, I had a difficult decision to make.  I like money, and I do not like wasting it; perhaps we can all agree on the merit of my position in this regard.  However, lunch is a decision based not on dollars alone, but on nutritional content, and a twelve-inch sub sandwich is significantly worse than its six-inch cousin in terms of calories.  One might even infer that it is twice as bad.

So I took a deep breath, swallowed, and went with my gut, over-paying for a six-inch sandwich.

I think it’s terrible for a restaurant chain that at least pays lip service to healthy options to create such a dramatic price incentive for super-sizing one’s entree.  It takes quite enough effort to make healthy choices when eating out without contrived economic penalties for making good nutritional choices.

It would be immensely gratifying to write that I won’t be back to Subway, or at least to THAT Subway, but the reality is that there are woefully few healthier options in the neighborhood, and chances are good that I’ll be back before the week is out.  To paraphrase my favorite Indiana Jones movie, that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

So, thanks for bearing with me on an ill-fated journey through my bygone lunch break, and I’ll try to keep it more interesting next go-round.


Published in: on July 8, 2013 at 11:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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