Fast Food Nation

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University who writes the blog Food Politics, talks about the demise of Gourmet Magazine and studies showing people are sticking with high-calorie fast food.


Marion Nestle

Comments [32]

Jeffrey Slott from East Elmhurst

This is one of the reasons why I'm having second thoughts on universal health care. While I think it's vital that society, as a whole, makes sure the information is readily accessible, there are still going to be too many people who will, for one reason or another, choose to self-abuse themselves anyway. Just look at how many people still smoke tobacco, with the warnings right there on the box!
When I see scenes from "Food, Inc." and it portrays a family who insist on eating at McDonald's or buying sugar- or fat- infested crap at supermarkets, all the while claiming that it costs too much to eat more nutritious meals, I just want to throw my chair at the screen. One can easily feed him or herself, as well as their families, proper meals AND do it with less money spent at fast-food chains.

Oct. 07 2009 09:31 AM
Jane from east village

I was on 42nd St. the other day and hungry, and thought, when in Times Square, do as the tourists do. So I remembered I could at least see the calories and went into a Subway. And yes, found something that didn't throw my Weight Watchers regime totally out the window for the day. But it was no fun eating it and the venue was depressing. I'll never go back. But the new policy did get me to try it.

Oct. 07 2009 01:57 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

I've found the calorie counts extremely helpful -- made me change my mind on a number of occasions. But I'm talking about places like Starbucks not McDonalds. The people who eat at fast food places are more likely doing so because of the price not the calories. When I think I want a McD's I just remind myself -- it's not really food, it's not really food -- and that does it.

Oct. 06 2009 11:12 AM
Sandra from Astoria, Queens

I'm a foodie so of course I'm sad about Gourmet's demise.

But I will have to agree that it had an elitist slant. When am I going to cook with foie gras and truffles?

But that doesn't mean I want fast food. Isn't there a middle ground?

I like a mag called Everyday Food, which is much more practical.

Oct. 06 2009 11:01 AM
Robert from NYC

I think some people just don't care so they will eat whatever they like anyway but for those who do watch calories and dietary measures it is a good idea to have it posted so they can chose to eat "it" whatever "it" is, or not.

Oct. 06 2009 11:01 AM
downtown from downtown

R.I.P. Gourmet--Our $.02 on How They Can Keep the Brand Alive -- FastCompany Magazine
Conde Nast announced today that it will shutter Gourmet, the much-beloved magazine that's been serving a mix of high-end recipes and high-brow culinary essays since 1940. (Cookie and Modern Bride are also getting axed,...

Oct. 06 2009 11:01 AM
Janny from jersey city

An icon to missed for sure, but i looked to Gourmet like i look to aspirational fantasy - lovely but not really relevant to my life. Helping to get a delicious, nutritious dinner on the table 5+ nights a week - that's what i need, and Cooking Light is more relevant for that. The one exciting thing out of all this, is, what will Ruth Reichl do next?

Oct. 06 2009 10:59 AM
serena from manhattan

Regarding Gourmet; I was a subscriber years ago, but I think we need to consider the impact of the Internet on its demise. 1) Most of the recipes were available for free from (with user ratings and comments, which are invaluable), 2) it is so easy to get excellent, tried and true recipes online now for free, 3) Gourmet was never a great source of ethnic recipes, and many recipes were just too chi-chi and over the top for me.
As a food lover though, I do hate to see the loss of such an institution!

Oct. 06 2009 10:59 AM
Marcia from Manhattan

I subscribed to Gourmet for over 30 years..It was like getting a gift each month..Many of my family's favorite dishes were first cooked from the magazine. This is much like having a bulldozer knock down a landmark building. I wept.

Oct. 06 2009 10:59 AM
Larry from forest hills

Regarding the calorie counts at restaurants: I am for them in general, however some restaurants simply reduced the portions. This means a $12 entree no longer provides doggy bag lunch for the next day.

Oct. 06 2009 10:58 AM
SH from Brooklyn

I am devastated that Gourmet is folding. The claims of its elitism are greatly exaggerated. Sure, there were articles on very expensive locales and cooking classes, but under Ruth Reichl's leadership, the magazine moved toward much more accessible recipes and championed sustainable/local foods. There were also lots of quirky articles about greasy road food and independent food producers. I've been subscribing since grad school, and I was able to cook their recipes even back then, as an impoverished student, so it definitely can be a magazine for ordinary people.

Oct. 06 2009 10:58 AM
JR from Brooklyn

Gourmet was the highest quality food magazine to include a wide range of international recipes, vegetarian recipes, and environmental issues related to the food we eat. It is telling that Bon Appetit survived the cull.

Oct. 06 2009 10:58 AM
Yvonne Durant

Kudos to Ruth and her team for publishing an essay I wrote about being black and eating watermelon in public - Pride and Prejudice. It was selected to appear in Best Food Writing 2002.

Oct. 06 2009 10:57 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

I think her hypothesis is correct. I avoid fast food restaurants and try not to eat at family style chain restaurants, but went to Dave & Buster’s for a friend’s birthday and wow!!! 2000-5000 calorie meals. We chose our meals by what we thought we could reasonably afford calorie wise (or decide not eat the next day) and not by what could taste good.

Oct. 06 2009 10:57 AM
Denice from Brooklyn

I love the calorie counts on menus! Although I wish the calories were not listed with the food at sit-down restaurants or at least that it was on a page in the back (California Pizza Kitchen has been ruined for me). Even my boyfriend, who is not a fan of Mayor Bloomberg, admits that this is one thing he's done that has been really useful.

Oct. 06 2009 10:57 AM
Nancy Gagnier from Maplewood

My father-in-law has given me and my husband a subscription to Gourmet every year since we were engaged in 1984. I learned to cook with it, traveled the world through its fabulous articles, and enjoyed the essays of many fine writers. I am so sad to see it go. There is nothing like it for the cook who loves to read.

Oct. 06 2009 10:57 AM
Mel from Queens

Is Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie going as well?

Oct. 06 2009 10:56 AM
Olivia from Brooklyn

I am sorry this hasn't been effective. It's been helpful to me in selecting lower calorie items and realizing things like a Starbucks Chocolate Chip cookie has 420 calories, add a Chai tea latte as I was doing, and it rockets to a 600 calorie snack.

As far as motivation: I am a fitness instructor who enjoys eating well. I have also been chubby at one point in my life, mainly in my 20's. The motivation was wanting to feel better in my clothes, healthier when I woke up, having more energy throughout the day, AND getting a wee bit older (not old - what's old anymore??) and wanting to preserve this encasing that's holding my soul. Nobody can give you or teach you motivation because by nature it comes from within. The quote on my business cards?: HAVE A HEALTHY DAY: MOVE YOUR BODY! Good luck to you and here's hoping you find your motivation!

Oct. 06 2009 10:56 AM
Jersey Mom from Jersey City

Fast food is just as loaded with calories as lunches in our son's school.
We canged to home cooked lunches and use WARMABLES to keep the food warm until he is ready to eat it.
It's a wonderful tool. Not only does our child eat better but we actually save money this way.
Find it at

Oct. 06 2009 10:56 AM
hjs from 11211

guest said people at mcdonalds aren't looking to lose weight if true who's buying the diet soda

Oct. 06 2009 10:55 AM
Robert from NYC

Gourmet and Food Network (and of course Julia Child) brought us to appreciate good, delicious and even healthy food which and showed us that we can make many of these "gourmet" meals at home. They then taught us how to take the good product and us it in simple and fast and delicious daily meals. Yes, sigh, we owe much of this to Ray and the now "common" folk who cook for us daily on the Food Network. So we went from Julia to Mario to Guy and Rachel over the past decade and a half and we cook for ourselves and eat a lot better than before... if we can afford it!!

Oct. 06 2009 10:55 AM
anonymous from williamsburg

The closing of venerable and widely-read CondeNast publications such as Gourmet and House & Garden (not to mention much-loved newcomers like Domino and Cookie) shows more about CondeNast's failure to run profitable businesses than the magazines' lack of audience. Advertisers, and not readers, ultimately determine the fate of a magazine--these closures stem from business decisions. After years of refusing to lower ad rates CondeNast has been forced to reconsider it's operations. To our loss.

Oct. 06 2009 10:54 AM
Cynthia from long lsland

I question whether most people understand quality at all anymore.

I'm an artist and do a number of shows every year. I have watched really wonderful shows with beautifully-made, hand-crafted goods change into flea markets with imported junk.

I watched this one vendor sell cheap, imported t-shirts (that I could make with retail products for $3) sell them for $30 a pop. They sold like hotcakes. I can't figure it out.

Oct. 06 2009 10:54 AM
Suki from Williamsburg

I made their cheddar crusted apple pie just the other day!

From what I hear though, Gourmet will continue to post their recipes via

Ugh. Rachel Ray; she will always be the hamburger helper of the cooking world.

Oct. 06 2009 10:54 AM
Nancy Lewis from Little Silver, NJ

It's really too bad that the perception of Gourmet is that it's an elitist, food-snobby magazine. Under Ruth Reichl, it's been anything but -- full of interesting reporting on sustainable food, health, technology... A real loss.

Oct. 06 2009 10:53 AM
Jennifer from NYC

Suddenly I feel that I need a subscription to Gourmet - I feel it is a terrible loss for food lovers!! As far as the calorie counts go - I don't frequent much fast food - and if I do I know what I am in for and so just get what I like. However the place it has affected me (though I don't go there much anymore either - too expensive) is Starbucks - where I definitely do not order the pastry anymore because I can see clearly how much it is going to cost my waist line!

Oct. 06 2009 10:52 AM
Hesch, mobility impaired from Knickerbocker in the Lower East Side

It has occurred to me several times to question store-owners at the groceries / supermarkets that I frequent as to WHY the sugar-free versions of MANY product lines do not appear in THEIR store, when:

(A) the few items that do appear disappear the same day (or two) a sale starts on that product, regular OR diet - they never have enough; and

(B) the stores are located in areas with significant populations-of-color who, I understand, are more prone to diabetes than European extraction without a family history of the condition.

The same for the salt-free butter and populations prone to high blood pressure; the sweet butter is consistently the first to disappear from the shelves.

If you are with me so far, the V8 individual serving cans were often the first to disappear (or last to be refilled) on the shelves.

The above makes "healthy choices" more of a challenge.

Oct. 06 2009 10:52 AM
Ed from East Village

Yes Robert, it's the same Paulette Goddard. She left a lot of bucks to NYU.

Oct. 06 2009 10:50 AM
Kit from Lower East Side

I can think of half a dozen cooking magazines that should have gone under before Gourmet did (Everyday with Rachel Ray, anyone?)

Gourmet, you will be missed.

Oct. 06 2009 10:48 AM
Gregory from The Bronx

For most people there is really only one practical solution: cook your own food. People tend to ignore less the quality of what goes into their (and their family's) own food when they themselves are the ones who are preparing it. Unfortunately, once the chain of parent-to-child generational cooking is broken it is nearly impossible to reestablish.

Oct. 06 2009 10:48 AM
Spence from Upper West Side

The calorie listings are wonderful but I need to be self-motivated in order to make the right choices. The calorie listings alone don't do it. They just help once I am motivated. So the question is how can we help to motivate people?

Oct. 06 2009 10:09 AM
Robert from NYC

Am I crazy? Wasn't (isn't?) Paulette Goddard an actress of the 40s? Well, yes to the first question.

Oct. 06 2009 10:05 AM

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