Is Fast Food Worth It?

Molly Farrar, A&E Editor

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There are many reasons to pull into a drive-thru and order that burger and fries; it’s convenient, the cheapest food ever and, yeah, it does taste good. But what’s really in that processed, tasty, greasy food that costs less than $10?

Taco Bell

Taco Bell keeps its drive-thru open until 2 a.m., so the appeal is understandable. It’s one of the only places that serves Pepsi products instead of Coke, so you can always wash down some “Mexican” food with some Mountain Dew, Baja Blast or otherwise.

The Doritos Locos taco, a Taco Bell staple, has been popular since its release in 2012. The Atlantic called it “one of the most successful products in fast-food history.” But what’s its nutritional value?

One taco is about 160 calories and 50 percent of these come from fat. (According to Regina George, we really shouldn’t eat stuff with more than 30 percent of the calories coming from fat.) In those 160 calories, one taco has 360 milligrams of sodium, which is unsurprisingly very high. According to the American Heart Association, a “low sodium” item has less than 140 milligrams.

As far as the ingredients go, there are a few oddballs. Besides the anticipated list of preservatives that hang out at the end of every nutrition label, things like cocoa in the seasoned beef really stick out. At least the iceberg lettuce is certified vegan.

McDonald’s

McDonald’s is arguably one of the most recognizable restaurants in the world and in Edwardsville. There are 18,710 locations in the world with two in Edwardsville. Right across Route 157 sits the fast-food joint conjoined with a gas station which locals coined “GasDons”.

McDonald’s tempts the broke student. After school, it’s easy to scrape together a few coins and get a large soda across the street for a buck ($1.06 with tax).

In October 2017, McDonald’s added buttermilk chicken tenders to their menu and it was a huge success. Locations ran out of the item frequently, including a few times here in Edwardsville.

While they may taste lighter than a typical greasy burger and fries, the tenders are far from healthy. Four pieces are 500 calories with 48 percent from fat. The sodium count is 1390 milligrams, which is 58 percent of the daily recommended intake. And as the subject of every fast-food exposé ever, McDonald’s isn’t exactly known to have healthy ingredients.

Sonic Drive-In

Sonic, located on the other side of the parking lot, is good for a lot of things: cherry limeades, freshmen adventures after school and happy hour, which is from 2 to 4 p.m. There are many slushies and shakes to choose from, just don’t choose the pickle-flavored one.

Sonic goes with the 1950s car-hop aesthetic, but modernized. As “America’s Drive-In,” you can go through the drive-thru or pull up to the kiosks and wait in your car. The outdoor order stations and seating attracts licenseless freshmen who want to hang out on a Friday after school.

A crispy chicken sandwich at Sonic with fries is similar to McDonald’s chicken tenders; it has 560 calories with about 49 percent from fat. However, it has only 900 milligrams of sodium, which is healthier, but not by much.

Generally, the rule is to eat fast food as little as possible. Even getting chicken instead of beef won’t necessarily cut down the calories, sodium or fat. However, many fast-food joints have hidden healthy options like skim milk, oatmeal and salads. They may not taste as good, but healthy eating makes you feel good.

But Taco Bell is still the best.

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