Editor’s Note: A Fresh Look at Junk Food

A busy Saturday leads to a surprisingly complicated lunch for Reader's Digest editor Liz Vaccariello and her young daughters.

Liz Vaccariello
Photograph by Steve Vaccariello; Wardrobe Stylist: Elysha Lenkin

I was a bad mom this weekend: On Saturday, my daughters and I ate lunch at McDonald’s.

I try. I really do. I take pride in eating as close to “nature” as possible.

I do it for myself and for my girls and to set a good example for my readers. I wash and cut fresh fruit daily. I tote snacks of carrots, string cheese, and nuts, and I make a pot of veggie-based soup most Sundays. I have the motivation (and the means) to eat well. Even so, I sometimes fall back on processed convenience food. And then I suffer the guilt.

That’s why I couldn’t put down David Freedman’s essay “How Junk Food Can End Obesity,” in the Atlantic. Freedman questions whether fast food is as evil as the “wholesome foods” movement makes it out to be. He asks whether local farms can ever really supply enough healthy foods, at a realistic price, for the entire population. Maybe, just maybe, Big Food is better positioned to make a dent in the nation’s obesity crisis.

These days, the response to a story becomes part of the story itself. Freedman’s article sparked such outrage from whole-foods advocates that we decided to curate the responses, both pro and con, that appeared in its wake. I’m proud that RD can bring both sides of this issue to you. I hope our package makes you feel like part of the national conversation, no matter what your opinion on the subject.

As for me? Freedman’s perspective was more than provocative. It brought me a sense of validation and relief. At McDonald’s, my girls and I shared the fries, and we ordered yogurt parfaits for dessert. I wasn’t a bad mom this weekend. I was just a busy one.

—Liz, @LizVacc

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