“The Most Bountiful Food in Human History?”

(Photo Credit: Mike V)

A reader named Ralph Thomas observes the following:

It has been my gut-level (sorry, pun) feeling for a while now that the McDonald’s McDouble, at 390 Calories, 23g (half a daily serving) of protein, 7% of daily fiber, 20% of daily calcium and iron, etc., is the cheapest, most nutritious, and bountiful food that has ever existed in human history.

Who would like to argue against him? And if you attack on the “nutritious” dimension (I suspect you will), be very specific.

FWIW, here, from the McDonald’s website nutrition page, is a complete list of ingredients:

100% Beef Patty

100% Pure USDA Inspected Beef; No Fillers, No Extenders.
Prepared with Grill Seasoning (Salt, Black Pepper).

Regular Bun

Allergens: WHEAT, SOY LECITHIN

Enriched Flour (Bleached Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup and/or Sugar, Yeast, Soybean Oil and/or Canola Oil, Contains 2% or Less: Salt, Wheat Gluten, Calcium Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Ammonium Sulfate, Ammonium Chloride, Dough Conditioners (May Contain One or More of: Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, DATEM, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide, Mono and Diglycerides, Ethoxylated Monoglycerides, Monocalcium Phosphate, Enzymes, Guar Gum, Calcium Peroxide), Sorbic Acid, Calcium Propionate and/or Sodium Propionate (Preservatives), Soy Lecithin.

CONTAINS: WHEAT, SOY LECITHIN

Pasteurized Process American Cheese

Allergens: MILK AND SOY LECITHIN

Milk, Cream, Water, Cheese Culture, Sodium Citrate, Contains 2% or Less of: Salt, Citric Acid, Sodium Phosphate, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Lactic Acid, Acetic Acid, Enzymes, Sodium Pyrophosphate, Natural Flavor (Dairy Source), Color Added, Soy Lecithin (Added for Slice Separation).

CONTAINS: MILK AND SOY LECITHIN.

Ketchup

Tomato Concentrate from Red Ripe Tomatoes, Distilled Vinegar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Water, Salt, Natural Flavors (Vegetable Source).

Pickle Slices

Cucumbers, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Alum, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Natural Flavors (Plant Source), Polysorbate 80, Extractives of Turmeric (Color).

Onions

Chopped onions.

Mustard

Distilled Vinegar, Water, Mustard Seed, Salt, Turmeric, Paprika, Spice Extractive.

Leave A Comment

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COMMENTS: 156


  1. Sean says:

    Finally! People always looked at me weird when I ordered three of these and left the fries to the fatties!

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    • Alex says:

      Love it. I usually order 2 and a salad. I think we are all blessed to have such an ample amount of food in the US that we pay so little for. We spend less than 9% of our income on food and that’s the lowest in human history. It’s a beautiful thing.

      http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/06/08/154568945/what-america-spends-on-groceries

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      • Mike McCarthy says:

        Compared to all other developed countries we spend the least amount of money on food. We also spend the most amount on health care. And we are sicker than the other developed countries. Is that a beautiful thing?

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      • Apu Garnesh says:

        “Compared to all other developed countries we spend the least amount of money on food.”

        This may be true, but it is largely because most of the other developed countries are either Japan, Korea, or in Europe, all of which heavily protect their agricultural industry, hence massively jacking up prices there. (The US protects its farmers too, but not to the same extreme.)

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      • J1 says:

        “Compared to all other developed countries we spend the least amount of money on food. We also spend the most amount on health care”

        Maybe the two are related; to the extent we are “less healthy” than other countries, it is for the most part associated with obesity. I disagree with the “less healthy” assertion, but that’s been covered in other posts. The important thing is that our country will never have (forgive me) the stomach to let fat people die because of obesity related illness, so our spending will always be higher regardless of the system we use.

        Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4
      • Joe says:

        In response to “Compared to all other developed countries we spend the least amount of money on food. We also spend the most amount on health care. And we are sicker than the other developed countries. Is that a beautiful thing?”…
        You are not dealing with the issue at hand. As a food product the McDouble is an excellent source of nutrition at very reasonable calorie count and excellent cost/benefit. There are a lot of people that put down this food because it is processed. Sure if you can afford the $8-12 and the extra time for an unprocessed beef and cheese product you are probably (a little) better off, but not much. Most of those “natural” products come with a lot more calories and fat.

        I would not support that it is “the cheapest, most nutritious, and bountiful food that has ever existed in human history”, but in terms of a choice that we can make during the day, it is certainly an excellent food product.

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    • Randal L. Schwartz says:

      I hope you also left the buns to the fatties. The healthiest part of this meal is the stuff between the buns.

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    • Mike Watson says:

      850mg
      Sodium
      (35%)
      Three mcdoubles would put you over your daily recommended limit of sodium. Not to be confused with your daily recommended amount which is significantly lower.
      Though visceral fat is dangerous, you don’t have to be over weight to die of stroke or a heart attack from taking in too much sodium.

      http://www.cdc.gov/features/dssodium/
      Americans Consume Too Much Sodium (Salt)
      Sodium intake from processed and restaurant foods contributes to increased rates of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Decreasing sodium intake to within recommended limits could prevent thousands of deaths annually.

      http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09354.html
      How much Sodium is Required?
      The Adequate Intake (AI) for sodium is 1,500 milligrams daily for males and females ages 9-50. This value is less than 1 teaspoon of table salt per day. The maximum recommended level of sodium intake is 2,300 milligrams daily. On average, more than 85% of American men and women consume sodium in amounts that far exceed the maximum recommended level of intake.

      Also depending on which salad you choose from mcdonalds you could be getting a product which is actually less healthy than their big macs. Its not a question of moderation, its a question of health, which a mcdouble is not in the conversation of.

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  2. Sean says:

    $1 for a 1 lb bag of lentils at wal-mart (about 4-5 meals comparatively). Much cheaper and not even competition for more nutritious. More bountiful? Not as available in the sense of preparation and there are probably more McD’s than grocery stores. Yes you have to cook yourself but that wasn’t a bar for competition.

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    • Not Sean says:

      I think the “bountiful” criterion is where McDouble has its only arguable advantage over lentils. That said, the McDouble is underrated, even if not the best.

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    • Mike.Gayner says:

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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      • Mike.Gayner says:

        *because

        ugh haven’t had my morning coffee, we can’t edit for spelling errors?

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    • Dave F. says:

      Well, the 1lb bag of lentils provides 13 servings of 80 calories or 1040 total calories – about $2.66 worth of burgers. They have lots of protein, but a pure diet of these wouldn’t give you too much else. It usually takes a while to cook them too. I guess they are cheaper as long as you place fairly low value on your time.

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      • James says:

        While lentils and similar may take a long time to cook, it’s not MY time. I might wash & soak them the night before – takes me
        a minute or two. In the morning place them in the crock pot (with water & various additions) and turn on – another minute or two. In the evening dish them out. That takes maybe another minute. Say I get 5 meals worth from a pot, that’s about a minute of actual human time. I defy you to get a burger from the average McDonalds in less.

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      • LaVerne says:

        If time is a problem, you can cook lentils overnight in a slow cooker.

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      • bob says:

        I’ve seen Supersize Me. A pure diet of McDouble’s won’t do you any favors.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 22
      • Kevin C. says:

        So assuming we value our time at $6/hr, we’ve got a little more than 16 minutes of total lentil preparation time. Which doesn’t account for the fixed cost of cooking vessel, or the cost of the energy to heat the water, and presuposes we like our lentils REALLY bland.

        McDouble FTW.

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      • James says:

        I wouldn’t say covering lentils in water and turning on a burner for 30 minutes constitutes high time resources, but I guess I have so much more time on my hands. lol

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  3. sean says:

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    • john_d says:

      @Sean: You’d lose weight in 30 days because lentils are not a complete source of protein. Your hair would likely be falling out and your brain function would be on the decline. Also, lentils are bland and boring.

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      • sean says:
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      • tmeier says:

        De gustibus non est disputandum. I’m no lentil lover but fast food burgers and McDonalds’ products in particular disgust me. I would definitely prefer lentils cooked or spiced in any way.

        Back on topic I thought eggs offered the most complete and cheapest (and easy to prepare) high-nutrition food.

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      • LAC says:

        actually – SPROUTED lentils are a complete protein. a dried lentil lacks 2 essential amino acids, so without adding something to complete it (not necessarily in the same sitting but in the same day).

        Incomplete vs. Complete Protein
        Complete proteins contain all nine essential amino acids. The main sources of complete proteins are from animal based food, such as meat, seafood, eggs and dairy. Soy and quinoa are also complete proteins. Although incomplete proteins sounds like they are lacking and not as nutritious, they just need to be paired with another type of protein. For instance, adding peanut butter to bread creates a complete protein. According to Columbia University, the proteins do not need to be eaten together to receive the health benefits but any time within 24 hours will suffice.
        Lentils and Protein
        Lentils are rich in amino acids and high in protein. However, regular lentils are lacking in two essential amino acids. Because lentils do not have enough of these nutrients, the healthy legumes are an incomplete protein. However, lentils can be sprouted which changes their nutritional components. Sprouted lentils have an increase in all nine amino acids, although the exact increase is variable. To sprout your lentils, soak the seeds in cool water for eight to 12 hours. Rinse the lentils and store in a jar in a cool place for a few days, rinsing every eight hours.

        Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/527529-myth-of-lentils-as-an-incomplete-protein/#ixzz2OCa5uNVj

        http://nutrition.about.com/od/askyournutritionist/f/protein_combo.htm

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      • fizrat says:

        So cook some brown rice too. Still not breaking the budget.

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    • LAC says:

      actually – if you recall in supersize me, there was a guy in Minnesota who ate a Big Mac every single day. He NEVER ordered fries. HE SKIPPED the soda. He walks daily and is surprisingly trim.
      http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/offbeat/2011-05-21-big-mac-milestone_n.htm

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    • J1 says:

      Losing weight doesn’t make you healthier unless you’re overweight. It would be interesting to see how a “Supersize Me” diet balanced out though. With a similar caloric intake of each, I’m not convinced the lentil diet would leave you healthier. I definitely agree with john that a pure lentil diet would be worse for brain function than the McDouble diet. The lentils would be good for some other body functions though. Pass the ketchup.

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  4. frankenduf says:

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  5. Morgan says:

    Either I have misunderstood, or the premise is nonsensical. If nutrition score per unit cost is the critical factor in this decision, then any free food offers better value than a bought product. Other than the negligible time and energy cost of walking to a nearby bush, many of the world’s foods can be consumed entirely free of charge. Needless to say, they also offer more than zero nutrition, so their nutrition per unit cost is infinite. The same cannot be said of the McDonald’s McDouble

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    • David Kaine says:

      The entire foundation of humans’ separation from animals is the fact that we do not still spend 90% of our waking hours foraging or hunting for food. Yes, on a base level your argument is valid, however the spirit of the original statement isn’t there. We cannot get our food “from a nearby bush” and still function as a modern society.

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      • Morgan says:

        I’d have to disagree slightly, though not with total conviction. You are totally correct in what you say, but in the original statement, we are talking about ‘…the most bountiful food that has ever existed in human history.’ This, by my reckoning, means there is no reason we should be limited to considering this within the constraint of maintaining a functional modern society. I was personally unable to glean any particular ‘spirit’ in the statement, but this is obviously nothing more than a matter of interpretation. The problem, as I see it, is that this argument has been presented without any of the definitions needed to resolve it (or even to sensibly discuss it). For starters, we have no parameters for nutrition.

        While the proposition of a McDonald’s burger being the most bountiful food on the planet is mildly humorous, I’m struggling to see how this can be a serious discussion… which is absolutely fine by me. Perhaps it was never intended to be. Perhaps it means nothing at all. Perhaps nothing means anything. Oh dear.

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    • Kracken says:

      Interesting way to look at it, but I disagree. The discussion is about bountifulness which is more complex than the nutrition score per unit cost.

      But looking at it this way anyway… The time and energy cost of walking to a nearby bush is not negligible and also would not realistically be the only costs. I posit that it is fair to assume there would be time costs of information gathering on the subject of whether a bush is edible and where one can find it. You have to harvest the edible portion of the bush as well, which is obviously time consuming, assuming one must gather an entire serving.

      I guess if somehow we planted many of those bushes and farmed them, then harvested them in a more time-efficient, larger scale way, we could then process them into more nutrient rich forms, combine them with a full protein (beef for instance), and sell them widespread at convenient locations, which would create an incredibly bountiful food… Oh wait…

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      • Morgan says:

        An extremely neat way of looking at it and I admire your whole thought process. My only comment, which is in no way intended to be a counter to your argument, is that there is also a not insignificant time and energy cost in walking to McDonalds. It’s a price generally worth paying, in my experience.

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      • James says:

        “The time and energy cost of walking to a nearby bush is not negligible…”

        Nor is the time & energy cost of going to a McDonalds, especially if you drive your SUV and idle your way through the queue of a dozen or so cars in the drivethrough.

        There’s also a time cost of learning where the McDonalds are to be found, what’s on the menu, the particular customs involved in ordering & paying, etc. As someone who grew up far more familiar with edible bushes &c than fast food restaurants (I think I was 17 before I had my first McDonalds burger, and didn’t care much for it), I can tell you that you acquire much of the learning by osmosis, just as I expect city kids learn to navigate a world of fast food. That learning was not all that easy to acquire as an adult.

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    • J1 says:

      While many of the world’s foods can be foraged, the ability to do so is heavily based on location. Also, supply is rapidly affected if much of the population chooses to feed itself that way, which increases effective cost. If you factor in cost and bounty, Thomas’ observation seems valid.

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  6. Devon says:

    Add the junior chicken make the McGangBang sandwich and that creates the real cheapest nutrition powerhouse meal in history….thats what ill keep telling myself anyways

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  7. Sam says:

    I thought cheese was made from milk and bread was made from flour? ;-)

    Seriously, though, HELL of a lot additives…..

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    • Kazriko says:

      Cheese is primarily milk, but that is far from the only ingredient. Some of the ingredients are preservatives, but some are to make a better tasting product. Sodium Citrate, for instance, is to help mix the oils and waters in the product to make it smoother when melted. You can add this to pretty much any cheese to make them melt without separating like Velveeta.

      Bread wouldn’t be bread without sugars and yeast as well. You’d just get a flat blob of solid wheat stuff instead of bread. They’re using enriched flour as well, with added nutrients (like Iron.)

      Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1
      • James says:

        So they process the flour to remove most of the nutrients in order to make white flour, then bleach it to remove any that might be left, after which they add a few things and call it “enriched”. Does anyone else see a logic fail here?

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  8. Nat says:

    It’s also a pretty tasty burger

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    • Debbie says:

      I don’t see how you can claim an uncooked bag of lentils as a comparison to a sandwich that is ready to eat. You’d need to figure in the cost of cooking and seasoning them so they are reasonably palatable to an average person.

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      • Sean says:

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      • Debbie says:

        Boiled lentils with hot sauce is not what I would call palatable. I am a fan of lentil soup but it is going to cost me way more than a buck to make it.

        I don’t think the cost of cooking and seasoning them is remotely negligible. I can’t just whip out a bowl of lentils on the fly, so there is cost of time, the cost of where (do I have to run home?) and cost of materials.

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      • Michael says:

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      • Kazriko says:

        How many cubic feet of gas does it take to boil water? If you’re using electricity, how much electricity does your range use per hour to boil water? I imagine that it’s going to cost you at least $0.10 per pot to cook it in heating costs alone. Are you going to do the entire bag as one meal or multiple? Add to that your time, which if it takes 5 minutes to do is at least $0.60 at minimum wage. How long does it take you to find the pot, for the water to heat to boiling, and put it onto a plate afterwards? How much does your container of sauce cost, and what percentage do you put into your $1 of lentils? Negligible isn’t an answer, it’s a dodge.

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  9. Eric M. Jones says:

    From Wikipedia: “Instant noodles were invented by Taiwan-born inventor Momofuku Ando in Japan….

    According to a Japanese poll in the year 2000, “the Japanese believe that their best invention of the twentieth century was instant noodles.”[6] As of 2010, approximately 95 billion servings of instant noodles are eaten worldwide every year. China consumes 42 billion packages of instant noodles per year – 44% of world consumption – Indonesia, 14 billion; Japan, 5.3 billion, Vietnam 4.8 billion, USA 4 billion. Per capita, South Koreans consume the greatest amount of instant noodles, 69 per capita per year.”

    Momofuku Ando got his obituary and a big story in the NYTimes when he died January 5, 2007, having arguably done more to alleviate world hunger than any human in modern history.

    They sure kept me alive at $0.10 each when I graduated from college and couldn’t get a job.

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  10. sean says:

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    • John says:

      I hear what you’re saying and you’re right to some extent. But…if all someone did was eat 3 McDoubles a day(not the fries, not the soda), they would not be obese. They might be undernourished in fact. 1200 calories/day is below what one is supposed to consume.

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  11. JohnnyPeps says:

    The entire bun is devoid of nutrition. The beef is GMO grain-fed with a poor Omega 3:Omega 6 ratio and probably pumped full of antibiotics. Too much HFCS throughout. Too much salt. Too many weird things I’ve never heard of and would probably not want to eat. Too many mentions of “natural flavors”, which is used to cover for ingredients (like MSG) everyone knows are unhealthy.

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    • dbp says:

      “The entire bun is devoid of nutrition”

      Only if you consider calories, protein and vitamins to not be “nutrition”.

      Noun
      The process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth.
      Food; nourishment.
      Synonyms
      nourishment – food – sustenance – diet – nutriment

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  12. mike h says:

    How about eggs ?

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  13. Kilna says:

    You can add Big Mac sauce to these for $.10-$.25 depending on which McDonalds you go to.

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  14. elana says:

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  15. WisdomSeed says:

    Its a good sandwich for sure, probably the best thing on McD’s menu.

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  16. Josh says:

    So… there is such thing as a $1 lunch?

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  17. Carlos says:

    with regards to macronutrients, the burger is definitely chuck full of them. it’s not an overly large amount of calories, either. but the sheer amount of additives and preservative is ridiculous.
    I’d eat it maybe once in a blue moon.
    5/10 would maybe recommend.

    rice and beans (generic beans) offer some of the most complete nutrional content of any food.

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  18. Becky D says:

    Eggs or coconuts.
    Eggs: $1-2 for 12. For me, 5’10″ 130 lbs, weight trainer, MMA, Parkour, Paleo that’s still 3 or 4 meals.
    It takes two of those dinky little burgers to fill me up even if I did eat the bun.

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  19. MelissaT says:

    I counted upwards of 75 ingredients and those are only the ingredients that the FDA requires McDonalds to mention. I think that qualifies as processed.

    This article I just read mentions a link between cancer and eating meat.
    “Another recent study published in Nutrition and Cancer, points out that increased exposure to chemicals in processed meats, including nitrites and nitrates, ‘is a plausible mechanism by which [conventional] red and processed meat may increase colorectal cancer risk.’” (http://www.beyondorganicinsider.com/2013/03/meatheads.html)

    Judging by the way American health looks right now. I’d say that burger ends up costing Americans a lot more money on health bills in the long run.

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    • Kazriko says:

      Can you quantify that risk? How many micromorts per burger? Or do we need to go down to nanomorts? If it’s a 1-2% increase in chance per decade if you eat 2 of them for every meal, then that’s probably not a risk that justifies completely changing your entire diet. We won’t know unless we properly judge risk by a cost benefit analysis.

      This document: http://tobaccodocuments.org/lor/03732381-2387.html says that 100 charcoal broiled steaks would be worth 1 micromort. That would put a single charcoal broiled steak at 10 nanomorts, and a mcdonalds burger would probably be less than that. That’s a less than 1 in 100,000,000 chance of giving you a cancer that kills you.

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  20. Marc Resnick says:

    Cans of sardines in olive oil, bags of dried lentils:

    Cheaper: 1 can and 1/4 bag is $1.
    More nutritious: more protein, more calcium, more fiber, more iron, healthier fats (olive oil and fish oil).
    More convenient: can be stored in bulk, unrefrigerated, at home.
    Less of the bad stuff: sodium, high fructose corn syrup, saturated fat, preservatives/additives.

    http://chickenofthesea.com/product_line_detail.aspx
    http://www.livestrong.com/article/431604-nutritional-value-of-dry-lentils/

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  21. Joe Burroughs says:

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  22. Alex says:

    I think the main issue with the debate here is the issue of the word “nutrition.” Just from listening to Freakanomics podcast (“An Economist Goes To Lunch”), I get the idea that economists take more of a historical perspective to nutrition. When they talk about nutrition, they are talking about fuel. Which can be anything, simple things, white rice, beans, bread, meat, anything that creates calories which can be coveted to energy. The more modern idea about nutrition is a well-balance diet, raw foods, Omega oils, flax seeds, high levels of vitamins and low levels of anything unnatural. So I think the disconnect is that we are trying to compare Unleaded 87 to Super 93. Yeah your car will run optimally on 93, it might run smoother and last a few years longer, but I think the debate here is about the cheapest thing that will make your car run efficiently. (I like McDoubles too)

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  23. Ron White says:

    It’s not even the cheapest, most nutritious food at McDonald’s. That award goes to the grilled snack wrap. When I am trying to eat healthy foods at McDonald’s, I always go for the one with chipotle BBQ sauce. It has a nice mix of smoky, spicy and sweet. I order two. That’s 500 calories, 54 grams of carbohydrate, 32 grams of protein and only 16 grams of fat. The snack wrap is $1.29. So I get two of them for $2.58. Sure, the McDouble is 29 cents cheaper. But you get a lot of nutrition for that extra 29 cents. You get more carbohydrate, which the body needs to function, the same amount of protein and less fat, cholesterol and sugar, which should be eaten in moderation for good health.

    The McDouble only has 390 calories. To attain the same number of calories I get with my two snack wraps, you’d have to eat 1.5 McDoubles. That would be 560 calories. It also would mean 33 grams of protein, 48 grams of carbohydrate, 29 grams of fat and 12 grams of sugar. I’m not even going to mention the cholesterol.

    If you ate that 1.5 McDoubles meal for all three of your daily meals, you’d be over doctor-recommended limits for fat, cholesterol and sugar consumption. That would adversely affect your healthy and would increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

    I don’t know what all of those weird chemicals in a McDouble will do to the human body. But I suspect that they’ll make a person ill by introducing toxins.

    Sure, a McDouble falls into the right calorie area. But there’s a lot of bad stuff that comes along for that ride. Eating one isn’t going to cause havoc. But you sure wouldn’t want to eat one daily, and you definitely couldn’t claim that it’s the healthiest, cheapest thing in the world to eat. It’s not even the healthiest, cheapest thing at McDonalds.

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    • David says:

      A more honest analysis would be actually matching caloric intake for the day. Your 6 snack wraps (2 x 3 meals, 1500 Cal) would actually compare with 4 McDoubles (1560 Cal). The wraps clearly win on fat (76 vs 48) and sat fat (32 vs 21). But the protein actually is almost equal (92 vs 96). So is the cholesterol you “don’t even want to mention” (260 vs 240). The wrap is a clear loser on sodium (3400 vs 4020), and the supposed “over the limit sugar” argument also falls apart (28 vs 30).

      Meanwhile the 6 snack wraps come in at $7.74, or almost twice the cost of 4 McDoubles. So really what your argument comes down to is that cutting fat and raising carbs is worth doubling the price of your food. You may be aware that this is currently a rather hotly contested hypothesis and I welcome any scientific studies you wish to contribute to the debate.

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  24. Brain says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  25. Donna says:

    Thank goodness, makes me feel less guilty stopping thru the drive in when I’m doing errands!!
    There ‘s no accounting of fats tho.

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    • Anthony says:

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  26. drinal says:

    Folks, it’s the fat that’s the problem. This has 19 grams of fat; 8 of them saturated fat. That’s 42% of recommended daily fat intake! In one sandwich. (and all that fake stuff doesn’t help either. not to mention more studies showing how bad red meat is for us.)

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    • Randal L. Schwartz says:

      No, the bun is worse than the fat. Nothing wrong with saturated fat. The worst part is this thing is probably cooked in seed oils instead of good natural animal fats like lard.

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      • Fizrat says:

        Maybe hydrogenated and trans fats are a problem. I don’t think seed oils in general are unhealthy. Sure, you can probably find some study or diet fad that thinks so, but it’s far from any kind of consensus – there’s probably more research showing animal fats are harmful.

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      • Randal L. Schwartz says:

        @Fizrat, no, indeed there are plenty of RCTs that show that seed oils are definitely an issue, and any prior complaint about sat fats was because they were confounded with seed oils. sat fats are getting a clean bill of health, over and over.

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    • James2 says:

      There are no studies proving saturated fats make you fat or are heart harmful. Its sugar and carbs that insulin stores as body fat and are the source of the small ldl that causes the inflammation that is the real heart issue.

      http://www.dietdoctor.com/the-1-cause-of-obesity-insulin

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  27. tardis_blue says:

    How about the pot of soup on my stove? Lentils, brown rice, broccoli, spinach, beef broth, (boxed) tomato soup, onions, garlic, spices. It’s a huge pot, so perfectly abundant, and super cheap. My pot probably cost close to $15, because we have food allergies and can’t use just any broths, but if you buy, for example, Better Than Bouillon instead of my soups, and used real tomatoes (I was just using up part of an open carton in the fridge), you could bring the price down closer to $7, and it’s big enough to feed a family of 5 two or three times. Tell me again, how cheap that burger is? Lol! And mine is all real food, none of what I call the seventeen-syllable chemical preservatives and fillers.

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    • James says:

      Or the beef/onion soup that’s simmering in my crock pot at the moment. About a pound of soup beef (maybe $3), 4 onions, 3-4 carrots, a few stalks of celery (using mostly the leaves & inner part of the bunch), a few mushrooms, plus a handful or two of barley, maybe another buck. Add a few spices, a couple of tablespoons of that Better Than Bouillon. Serve with grated Swiss cheese melted over homemade whole-wheat herb bread…

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  28. Anthony says:

    I agree to a certain extent. The average American (works 9 hours a day, sleeps 6 hours every night, does not move incredibly much) does not require such nutritious foods. I often recommend the “cheeseburger diet” to my athletes who need calories that they can not acquire from broccoli and other popular “healthy foods” that more holistic-oriented dietitians recommend. Keep in mind that this hamburger also contains approximately 11g or 51% of your daily value of saturated fat. An excellent experiment would be to eat three of the hamburgers daily and see what it does to your blood lipid panel. Unfortunately, this is the case in food deserts across the nation with no access to fresh fruits and vegetables and only convenience stores and McDonalds exist.

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  29. James says:

    The issue here is that the fat and sodium contents are relatively high. For 1 McDouble, you get about 30%-34% of your daily fat and sodium. Its saturated fat to, its not good for you. The calorie count is also half fat. I dont know about you guys, but have you ever had JUST 1 MCDOUBLE. The problem is they are not filling. I promise you that I order more then 1 every time I go. I could eat 2 McDoubles for every meal and still not be full. I would be greatly exceeding the daily recommended intake of fat and sodium.Yes, they are cheap, but the long term costs in a health sense just aren’t there. So the opportunity cost of eating McDouble’s would be the loss of your health and the increase cost of health care for obese or out-of-shape people. Further more, we can probably make a generalization (a broad one) to the likely life that someone has who consistently eats McDonalds. Either very busy or very lazy. No doubt full of stress, which causes your body to produce more hormones that actually cause increased retention of fat.

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  30. Dave F. says:

    The whole farm industry is completely subsidized, making the cost way out of wack for one of those burgers. Check out the growing meat Ted talk to see what all the costs of making even just a 1/4 burger are. It is fairly clear that we aren’t paying those at the McD counter

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  31. Dr Lou says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  32. Aditya says:

    Well considering the risk with all processed foods backed up by the following references(wikipedia, it is the best I can do right now since I don’t read science journals on health), obviously it isn’t as healthy for your heart and also might cause cancer.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beef#Health_concerns
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-fructose_corn_syrup_and_health
    http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/nutrition/sodium-in-diet/overview.html#Side-Effects

    I would refrain from eating processed foods on a daily basis, I’d rather cook some fresh vegetables at home.

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  33. Josh says:

    LOL… I get it: This article, which mildly praises McDonalds, was a sociological experiment on how self-righteous people signal in regards to fast food.

    Economists have the best sense of humor. :)

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    • tmeier says:

      I don’t dislike all fast food, just the kind designed to appeal to your reptilian brain by loading you up with sodium, fat, sugar and starch with the nutrition refined out then re-vitamin-ized.

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  34. Shauna says:

    Nothing on fat content? How lean is the beef? High triglycerides and cholesterol that come from consuming to much fat contribute to a whole host of health probelms.

    As far as calories per dollar, you can’t beat it, but not all calories are created equal.

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    • Randal L. Schwartz says:

      Saturated fat is not evil (http://www.marksdailyapple.com/saturated-fat-healthy/). Dietary cholesterol cannot become arterial cholesterol. And most “good levels” of cholesterol are set below healthy standards to ensure we get over-medicated and make the medical industry a lot of money. Get educated. Don’t buy in to conventional wisdom… most of what you’ve been told has been by people who have a financial stake in it.

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  35. Paul says:

    so we’re all going to ignore the 42% saturated fat, 22% cholesterol, and 35% sodium?

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    • James2 says:

      Ignore the sat fat….nothing wrong with it.,…it doesn’t make you fat nor harm your heart….it can’t. Cholesterol is also nothing to really fret about…keep the small ldl down….all good. Salt….overblown as a health issue…it seems to change by the week.

      Gary Taubes has researched all this and presented the actual evidence in existence since studies began. Check out his books “Calories in-Calories out”…And “Why We Get Fat”…Verdict…its carbs and sugars that are the real problem.

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  36. rick says:

    The price paid by the consumer at point of purchase does not include all costs. There are farm subsidies financed by taxpayers, including for corn and soy that has lead to a deterioration of land quality. There is also the externalities associated with industrial meat production. Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman have written about these issues in a way I find compelling.

    Another thing is that there are other components of food that nutrition science does not yet know the function of. (I believe I read 90% + of the compounds in unprocessed food are yet to be understood.)

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  37. Jason says:

    It depends on what you mean by “nutrition” and “bountiful”. It is certainly possible to make healthy fast food choices, and fast food is often cheap. The problem is that fast foods like fries and sugared soda, which most people order with their McDouble are not particularly nutritious. I would consider Wendy’s chili cheaper and healthier, and know many of the options at Subway are not particularly healthy.

    People will continue to enjoy foods high in salt, sugar and fat — regardless of whether it is at a high end restaurant, in their own home, or a place like McDonald’s. Some people have made a religion about avoiding all of these things. Perhaps it is good to show some personal restraint, but some studies suggest that no one diet is drastically better than others. The risk factors doctors use to predict heart attack risk do not predict which people over 60 will have a heart attack. There is nothing wrong with a McDouble at all, but if you eat them often better pick a salad and a low calorie drink. And there is plenty of food I consider more bountiful.

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  38. Aaron says:

    How about the classic “Mrs. Beeton’s Toast Sandwich”, with butter, salt, and pepper? 3 slices of bread, toasting the one in the middle, then sandwiching the piece of toast with butter (margarine, if you prefer. It’s cheaper this way too!), salt, and pepper? Approximately 300 calories, 10 grams of protein, 10 grams of fat, and 5 grams of fibre. So, one serving of this has slightly less nutritional value than a McDouble. Let’s go into costs now.

    Where I’m from, a loaf of bread goes from $1-3 so let’s say $2.50 after tax. Two loaves of bread gets 34 (17 each) thick slices of bread, and a bar (~115g) of butter costs about $6 after tax. Salt and pepper is reasonably inexpensive. I imagine you could get enough for 11 servings for little cost. At worst, just grab those free salt and pepper packets that some food places have. So, 11 servings of the toast sandwich costs $11, which is $1 per serving. Although I am familiar with the American McDouble being $1 each, around here, a Mcdouble is approximately $1.50, so the toast sandwich would be more economical in this case, giving 300 calories per dollar, compared to the McDouble’s 260 calories per dollar. The McDouble wins with 15.3 grams of protein per dollar, compared to the Toast Sandwich’s 5 grams per dollar. Although the McDouble has higher protein value, when you’re penny-pinching to this extent, calories are the more important value for the pure sake of survival.

    If someone could reply to this with the costs of bread and butter in the United States, we could maybe do a comparison, and see which would be better in that case.

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  39. Neil says:

    1 gallon of vitamin D (whole milk), ~$2.60 at Aldi in Chicago.

    2336 calories, 125.76g protein, 448% calcium, 80% vitamin A, 112% zinc, 16% copper, 208% selenium, 352% phosphorus, 384% vitamin D, 16% vitamin E, 16% vitamin K, 112% thiamin, 416% riboflavin, 16% niacin, 64% vitamin B6, 48% folate, 288% vitamin b12, 144% pantothenic acid. You can also become more acclimated to the lactose over time. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11400092 http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/agricultures/past/Spring1998/1998-Spring-Spotlights.pdf http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1234085

    Comparison of milk http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/69/2 and the McDonald’s http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fast-foods-generic/9371/2
    Note the 45 v.s. 35 nutrient completeness score.

    You can technically subsist totally off of this better than most of the world lives, and it also provides hydration. Obviously most people don’t want to live solely off of it, and the dairy industry is government subsidized, which is what I imagine accounts for the low cost. A lot of people GOMAD to help with muscle bulking because of the cheap cost, actually. (http://stronglifts.com/gomad-milk-squats-gallon-gain-weight)

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  40. Tom says:

    The problem with the burger as a nutritious food is right in the stats that you give – 7% of daily fiber. That means I would need to eat 14 McDoubles a day in order to get the fiber that I should be eating. 14 McDoubles a day would give me 5,460 calories (assuming I did not eat anything else or drink anything besides water) and 7x as much protein as I need – not really a recipe for a successful diet.

    I understand that it is cheaper for the food industry to take all of the nutrition out of wheat flour, then ‘enrich’ it by adding some vitamins. If you could somehow add enough fiber to the burger – with a whole wheat bun and lettuce for starters – so that the burger would provide a daily dose of fiber you would be on the right track. Come to think of it – mountains of lettuce….maybe the In-n-Out Cheeseburger is the most nutritious food ever. If only In-n-Out would achieve global domination so that it would also be the ‘most bountiful…’

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  41. Christina says:

    Well, it has 850 mg of sodium (35%), 8g of saturated fat (42%), and 65mg of cholesterol (22%). Now these 3 types of “nutrients” should be noted because while most daily recommended values are minimums, these one’s are actually maximums. The less of these you have in a day, the better. You can actually live the healthiest lifestyles by having near 0 of this per day therefore these percentages from a single item are very high. The use of sugar (high fructose corn syrup) in this also increases how bad this is for you. Refined sugars (like high fructose corn syrup) are linked to increase cancer risk, diabetes, and short term immune system suppression. We have also found that if more than 10% of your calories come from meat and fats that your cancer risk goes up. 7% of your fiber from something that comprises nearly 20% if your calorie intake is not impressive. And because the burger is so heavily processed, it may contain some of the macro nutrients that you need but it lacks so many other nutrients that you will feel hungry again sooner because your body is lacking sustenance; thus you eat more and gain weight. So in summary, not healthy or “bountiful” at all.

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    • Randal L. Schwartz says:

      “The less of these you have in a day, the better.” Wrong. Nothing wrong with saturated fat (http://www.marksdailyapple.com/saturated-fat-healthy/). And sodium is essential for proper operation. And dietary cholesterol has nothing to do with blood cholesterol, and even our standards for blood cholesterol are dangerously low, set by the very people that profit the most from giving you drugs to control it. Also, you have *zero* need for dietary fiber (http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fiber/) I *do* agree that sugar is bad. Thus, the worst part of this meal is not the stuff between the buns, but the buns *themselves*. Leave off the buns, and it’s not bad for a mix of nutrients and good protein and fats. Oh, add two slices of bacon to that, and the fat picture gets even better.

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      • James says:

        Perhaps that is true. One does wonder, though, why so many people eating a mainly fast-food diet (or fast-food like) seem to be obese and unhealthy, while those choosing a non-fast-food diet tend to be in much better condition.

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      • Randal L. Schwartz says:

        James, it’s because they’re eating the carbs (fries, bun, soft drink, dessert). It has nothing to do with the core food (meat, cheese, bacon, eggs). It’s the carbs that trigger fat storage in the body, not dietary fat.

        Find Gary Taubes book “why we get fat”, or search around for “low carb high fat” diet information, and you’ll start to see why we’ve been fed a load of bull about “heart healthy whole grains” and “artery clogging saturated fat” (both of which are scientific crap).

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      • James says:

        “Find Gary Taubes book “why we get fat”…”

        I have looked at it. It is mostly crap, as the title suggests. (Anything with “we” in it should automatically be suspect.) Why many people get fat (I don’t) is because they eat too much and don’t exercise enough. Now I suspect (but can’t prove) that the reason a lot of them eat too much is that their diet contains a lot of highly-processed foods, like the bleached white flour of the McDonalds bun, that have many of the micronutrients removed. The body craves them, and thus turns on the hunger stimulus, so you wind up with the paradox of modern society: people who are simultaneously obese and malnourished.

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  42. Andrew says:

    They should get some more ingredients into those chopped onions. It’s like they’re not even trying.

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  43. Greg says:

    Couldn’t help but notice the “Big Mac Guy” in the film Supersize Me regularly eats several burgers a day, but rarely eats the fries.

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  44. phil says:

    the high fructose corn syrup is a sugar not fully able to be taken into the body the same as milk. there is high fructose corn syrup in the bun and ketchup. you can look up an hour long presentation on the effects of high fructose corn syrup on the body. protein isn’t supposed to be taken in by red meats and cheese. the worst part of america is that people think they need protein in these unhealthy forms even though they know better. proteins are supposed to come from plants to better heal the body after workouts. if you are a very hard working blue collar person that requires a fast source of protein sure this is fine. as for the rest of us no. those are the most likely to increase your salt intake along with heart problems. the bun is unhealthy compared to wheat you can google that shit i dont have time for it. not to mention the preservatives in the bun. like wtf they took it out of the meat and put it in the bun which is like 50% of the entire product. so no. this is not healthy. you just read the things that you can understand. you have no concept of how this works.

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  45. Spanican says:

    Instead of that ‘etc’, why don’t we keep going on what else you get in this bounty?: A bounty of high fructose corn syrup, a bounty of salt, a bounty of highly processed foods (bun and cheese), soy, gluten, ammonium chloride and sulfate? Isn’t that the stuff of pink slime? And what about fats?
    I get your point. There are few, if any,other foods available at this price that offer these nutritional elements. But isn’t it a bit narrow minded to only look at those and not the ‘bad’stuff? I love your work, but this one I think can cause more harm than good. But on the basis of bounty, good and bad, this one might take the cake.
    To me, the best bounty comes from the food you grow yourself.

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  46. M Fohr says:

    Where are the fat, saturated fat and sodium numbers? Stating the calories and protein is a little disingenuous if the fat and sodium numbers are high.

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  47. Todd says:

    Let’s compare the nutritious benefits and disadvantages of the McDouble. Each McDouble contains ~50% of daily protein, 7% of daily fiber, 6% of Vitamin A, 20% of Calcium, 20% of Iron, and 2% of vitamin C. Compare these with 42% of your daily saturated fat, 22% of your daily cholesterol, and 35% of your daily sodium. If you average the % daily value of the benefits and the % daily value of the disadvantages (17.5% and 33%, respectively), you find that the McDouble contains about 88% MORE of your un-nutritious daily value than it does your nutritious daily value. Of course, as long as you don’t eat more than two of these bad boys per day, and all the other food you eat is fairly healthy and totals 1220 calories (assuming you are eating 2000 calories/day), then eat on.

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  48. Steve says:

    R you kidding me. There are a total of 81 ingredients in this monstrocity most of which you have to be a chemist to understand…define bountiful?” Having a qualityor amount that is generous or plentiful”. There is nothing plentiful about this burger except the medical expenses you will endure after consuming this garbage for years. Wake up and smell the vegetables dude…

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  49. Andrea says:

    This conversation blows my mind. Proclaming that you spend the least amount of time and money preparing the “food” that you put into your body, is not something to be proud of. The same person eating this, will say “well i need cheap food because gas cost so much” For each 1 of those nutritious calories in that industry farm produced burger 10 calories of fossil fuel energy is used. Doesn’t really make sense does it?

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  50. Nathan says:

    I imagine my comment will get lost among the thousands, but my mom lost nearly 100 lbs doing the atkins/ primal thing, and a major component of her diet was “protein style” mcdoubles. They’re cheap. They’re easy. And they get you just about everything you need in a dinner.

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    • Troll says:

      Maybe if she had spent some calories cooking her own food, she would have lost twice the weight and no one would have dared to pull ‘yo mama’ jokes on you. Just sayin’.

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  51. Fizrat says:

    OK, so I’m assuming “bountiful” means satisfying basic nutritional requirements at lowest cost. Someone has already covered the fact that buying dried grains/legumes is significantly cheaper, so I’ll skip that one, nodding in agreement, and go on another line of thought. And that is, what is “lowest cost”?

    For most of us, “lowest cost” just means how much the consumer pays for the food. But with agriculture there is much much more to it than that. There are associated externalities which are not accounted for in the fast food burger price. Most obviously, there are farm subsidies that keep the price of that meat down. Digging deeper, there are environmental costs to meat production. Run-off, of manure, fertilizer, and agricultural chemicals, creates problems in groundwater and aquatic environments which have a real costs. And what price do you put on eroded or depleted topsoil?

    Other costs that go into producing super-cheap food: industrial meat processing is well-known for causing gastrointestinal illnesses, the treatment for which has costs; the widespread underpayment of often undocumented workers has its associated costs, especially if they’re injured on the job;

    The list could probably go on a bit more. Point is, don’t be fooled by the price on the menu. It’s beyond my research abilities, but I would be interested to see a full accounting for these externalities and find out whether ethical organic production is really so much more expensive than the industrial model.

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  52. Jan says:

    Yes, a “bountiful” food it is. The discussion is totally avoiding mention of the “bountiful” levels of fat and sodium, at 49% and 38% of the RDA respectively. Also consider the 40% of the RDA for saturated fat and 21% of the RDA for cholesterol.

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  53. Eugene McKenzie says:

    Yep. Known this for years. Mostly because I don’t like paying for wi-fi. By far the best calories/dollar food. And it’s at every third or fourth exit on the interstates. All I want to know is why is it so hard to get mustard packets?

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  54. Nathan Brophy says:

    Reminds me of the Penn & Teller Bullshit episode on Fast Food – debunking all the ‘holier than thou” fast food haters. http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=drMh0Py6vQk&feature=endscreen

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  55. krista brady says:

    There are plenty of things that are more healthy, and to say that there is no fillers is a lie. The fillers they use looks like pink goo, it has been the highlight of many new stories recently as the obesity rate in countries continues to increase.

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    • Kazriko says:

      That “Pink Goo” Is really just recovered beef that would have normally been wasted. People normally tell you not to waste food, right? It’s better to pull those last bits off and add them in, you can probably recover a whole bovine’s worth of beef from a couple dozen bovine’s worth of scrap. On a small scale, that doesn’t matter. When you’re talking feeding billions, that extra 5% or so could feed a lot of people.

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  56. Dana says:

    What about the levels of MSG hidden within the name “natural favors”?

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  57. Sydney says:

    Most people would steriotype that mcdonalds food is all bad for our health. There have been numerous videos on the way that the food is processed which leads people to believe that their food is unhealthy. I would have to agree with Ralph Thomas that a McDonalds cheeseburger is a easy and scrumptious food that is not a bad choice every once in a while. For example when ever my family goes on a vacation McDonalds is always the most convient spot.

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    • James says:

      Easy, perhaps. Scrumptious, you gotta be kidding. If you want scrumptious, try one of my teriyaki burgers, with onions, mushrooms, & asiago cheese on a whole grain ciabatta roll.

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  58. Gale Porter says:

    I agree as well, considering you can buy a 250 calorie cheeseburger for 99 cents. It’s a great meal for when you’re on the go, but not the classiest of cuisines.

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  59. Analisa says:

    This is not the cheapest food possible (buying in bulk can significantly reduce costs) nor is it the most nutritious, however there are far worse foods you could eat. The McDonald’s McDouble would be a reasonably healthy choice for when you’re on the go and don’t have time to prepare a meal at home.

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  60. Sukinah says:

    I have no idea how someone could say that fast food is “…the most nutritious, and bountiful food that has ever existed in human history.” Yes, most people would agree it’s probably very good, but they will also most likely agree that it is not “the most bountiful.” Most people would also agree that it’s very cheap, but they will also agree that it is cheap for a reason. The argument of the McDonald’s McDouble being the “The Most Bountiful Food in Human History” wouldn’t make any sense to anyone.

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  61. Bob says:

    Well, the actual bread was with us before McDonalds, so in terms of total food throughout history, I’d say bread was, and continues to be, the most bountiful food.

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  62. Mali says:

    Have you done any research at all what so ever?! Have you ever heard of saturated fat? You know, that stuff that causes heart attacks?!

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    • James2 says:

      Ever seen the doco that debunks it bigtime….”Fathead” ? Its free to view on Youtube…look it up. There are no studies that prove saturated fats cause heart attacks….it can’t be as Carbs do that by being the source of small ldl and causing inflammation which is what really damages arteries.

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  63. Mali says:

    Ever seen the documentary Supersize me??

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    • James2 says:

      Yes…it was nonsense….the doco “Fathead” debunked it pretty easily. Its free on Youtube…look it up.

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  64. HungryMan says:

    I think the point is, if you only had a buck in your pocket, what is your best meal option? I say the McDouble beats anything out there. It’s easier to go to a McDonald’s than a grocery store (we have more MickyD’s than grocery stores and they are more evenly distributed). So you spend more on gas going to the grocery store. It’s also easier to consume the McDouble on the spot than wait for the lentils to cook (the cooking time and energy are built into the burger, but not the lentils).

    Yes, if I had just a buck to my name, I would gladly go with the steaming McDouble over the raw lentils. Nobody would starve to death if they ate just one McDouble a day (or even 1 per meal) with only water, and they most adults likely would not gain weight, either.

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  65. Ben says:

    Food has become a fashion item in the U.S. It’s more important why you eat than it is whether you eat enough.

    It happens on both sides of the debate, from the health nut’s moralist nagging to the proud over-eater declaring their independence.

    Food’s not a problem for us, so we have to make a problem out of it. The U.S. as a nation has become a pack of drama queens.

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  66. Dan says:

    So the only topic that I wished that I could have heard about is that Farmers are given subsides for the foods that are necessary to make all the processed foods. So why not discuss removing all the price support(subsides) for the corn used to make High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFC), the soybeans that are used to make soybean oil, and the other foods that receive the bulk(+ 90%) of the agribusiness subsides from the government? Then they could complete in a free market with the veggies and so called whole foods, which survive by market forces alone.

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  67. Sheyna says:

    This is disgusting and irresponsible. Obviously animal welfare is a nonstarter for people like Ralph. So then who is suffering to grow all these cheap cows? Who pays for it. What do these cows eat, certainly not grass. Anyone who gives McDonald’s money should be ashamed of themselves.

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  68. Madison E. says:

    I feel that some people are first to critize the stereotypical fast food as greasy and lacking any nutrition at all without the actual facts. Fast food can be very bad for a person, yes, but in excesive amounts. In moderation, it actually does carry some nutritous benefits.

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  69. M@ says:

    Cheerios.

    The nutrition facts (http://www.cheerios.com/Products/Cheerios#.UWcvkXE-tUw) lay waste to anything McDs can muster (on every nutrient except protein). As for the cost, they’re $0.15 per serving (vs $1 for McD) or $0.0015 per calorie (vs $0.0025 for McD).

    Cheerios also win for shelf life, prep time, environmental impact, and even availability (Amazon will happily mail them to you no matter where you happen to be, plus gas stations typically carry them).

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  70. nick e says:

    so don’t eat the bun or pickle and ask for no sauce or cheese… or “just meat please!” :)

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  71. Kevin says:

    Ralph may listen to his gut, but he neglected a few nutritional facts.

    Of the 390 calories listed, 190 come from Fat, or 49%. Fat is a major contributor to obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Cholesterol, 65mg, contributes to heart disease, 25% of all US deaths.

    These cheese burgers are extremely calorie dense. You could stuff yourself on nearly a pound of potatoes with a little gravy and veggies for the same number of calories, zero fat, and no cholesterol. Also, animal protein stimulates production of IGF-1, a known cancer promoter. The fact that the burger gets cooked at high temperatures creates even more cancer promoting substances.

    It’s easy to understand why 2/3 of all americans are overweight and health care costs are soaring when the cheapest (highly subsidized), most bountiful food around is so bad for you.

    References:
    http://nutritionfacts.org/video/meat-and-weight-gain-in-the-panacea-study/
    http://nutritionfacts.org/video/protein-intake-and-igf-1-production/
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/20/pan-fried-meat-cancer-prostate-_n_1798970.html
    http://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_heart_disease.htm
    http://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/8388.aspx
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_China_Study_(book)

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  72. Nicholas Varzos says:

    Dear Mr. Thomas.

    Nice observation. I don’t regularly consume the Mac fare, however, I think I’ll make a stop or two with a better conscience about the experience thanks to your posting.

    Nicholas

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  73. Eric Olsen says:

    If cost-per-calorie is the game, McDonald’s McDouble is a clear winner. 390 calories for $1 and no cooking time on your part. But, that’s not the game. Cost-per-nutrient is the game.

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  74. brianguy says:

    I always eat this, if I’m going to be going to McDonald’s for any reason. it’s definitely the best / most complete sandwich, dollar for dollar on the menu. not so sure about the veggie argument but the rest actually makes sense. if you’re super hungry you can get two of these or something different but hey works for me.

    the funny thing is my wife will say hey get me a Double Cheeseburger. I say OK and buy her one of these along with mine, or whatever I’m getting. then I get “this isn’t a Double Cheeseburger”. I said what do you mean, it’s the same thing? she goes yeah but I can tell because the wrapper is white not yellow….. LOL

    2 slices of cheese is not healthy not worth the extra cost. but it just goes to show how set in their ways some people are!! marketing creep at its finest. and then wife also says in the next breath, oh yeah I have to eat healthier or skip this or that. duh?

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  75. Laura says:

    I feel that the nutrient claims on this sandwich are misleading given how many come from the enrichment of processed white flour with artificial vitamins/minerals. Sure, the beef contains a good dose of protein, and some iron, but even the iron isn’t all coming from the beef. Look at the bun’s flour ingredients: Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid…all added nutrients. Nutrition is too complex for us to break it down into a few vitamins, though. We believe antioxidants promote health, yet when we supplement them to people in isolated forms (vs as whole fruits/veggies,) they don’t work and can even cause problems. Why? There’s more going on than we realize–supplements are generally not absorbed nearly as nutrients in their naturally occurring form.

    I could make this argument by putting a multivitamin onto a cracker (and maybe inhaling a little protein powder,) which would have a lower sodium content and less saturated fat.

    I’m not staunchly against this argument–I do agree if someone balanced this meal with a bounty of fruits and vegetables, and cut out all junk for the rest of the day, this could work into a nutritionally balanced day. But how many people really eat McDonalds like that?

    In terms of bounty, I agree a little more with your point, but food scarcity poses a much smaller risk in our country than food over-abundance these days. This food may be beneficial to an underweight child from an impoverished family, but not to a rich, fat, type 2 diabetic with hypertension and high LDL cholesterol.

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  76. Scott in Montreal says:

    These tasty McDoubles are my favorite snack food when on my way to, or coming from playing hockey. I’m 6’5″ , 200lbs and when exercising, I crave copious amounts of protein – these totally fit the bill, and can be easily munched while driving. I’ve always wondered though, what % of my daily intake of fruits and veg are being met by the few measly pickles and smattering of diced onions?

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  77. fat America says:

    “The Most Bountiful Food in Human History?”

    and the obese / overweight North American people wonder why they are so heavy…. heavily over processed, loaded with sugar, trans-fats, too much salt, etc, etc, etc. lol

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    • Craig says:

      I don’t think they wonder why they are obese. By now, it’s pretty well taught. I just think they don’t really care. Why do the hard work of losing weight and not enjoying McDoubles when the downside is minimal? Thanks to Obamacare there’s no reason not to eat McDoubles.

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  78. Darren says:

    I have to disagree with the pro-Mcdouble crowd. Cheap…yes…nutritious…somewhat…bountiful…sure. However, I would submit that MREs, the hot “A,” and chow halls far surpass the mighty Mcdouble in all categories.

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  79. Richard says:

    Anyone who could even discuss this with any pretense at seriousness deserves to eat the slop McDonald’s serves. Apparently eating garbage like McDonald’s ‘food’ coincides with ‘ideas’ like these. Garbage in, garbage out.

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  80. Eddie Jenkins says:

    The picture that is posted along with this article is not one of a McDouble. There are two pieces of cheese on that burger along with a sesame seed bun. The McDouble only has one piece of cheese and a plain bun.

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  81. Ankit says:

    Now-a-days Junk food is more in demand than regular meals ,
    children and adults do not worry of the consequences,
    Once in a week is OK , but
    daily 2-3 times make more damage to the health of a person

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  82. Khushboo Saini says:

    Hygienic and healthy food matters and regular bun after reading its ingredients i am sure that it must be good in taste as well as for health.

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  83. monalisha sahoo says:

    You are not dealing with the issue at hand. As a food product the McDouble is an excellent source of nutrition at very reasonable calorie count and excellent cost/benefit. There are a lot of people that put down this food because it is processed. Sure if you can afford the $8-12 and the extra time for an unprocessed beef and cheese product you are probably (a little) better off, but not much. Most of those “natural” products come with a lot more calories and fat.

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  84. Babali Kumari says:

    “Compared to all other developed countries we spend the least amount of money on food. We also spend the most amount on health care”

    Before eating anything we never thing about nutrition, that’s a reason we have to suffer from many problems, mainly health problem and so money problem. Due to health and money problem our country is still not developed.

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  85. Andy McGill says:

    I doubt McDonald’s make any money on the Double Cheeseburger. It surely is a loss leader. They make tons of money on drinks and french fries, which more than makes up for the loss on burgers.

    I am surprised an economist doesn’t understand the economics of fast food.

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  86. Radhamadhab says:

    I think Indian People doesn’t like this type of food so much.Also I don’t like

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  87. Chad says:

    Define nutritious

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  88. Austin Kiessig says:

    Stephen Dubner, I disagreed with the tenor of this post so much that I wrote a researched response. Looking forward to seeing if you continue defending the McDouble after reading: http://ediblestartups.com/2013/08/14/the-burger-will-cost-you-a-buck-but-the-bad-ideas-are-free/

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    • TJ Judson says:

      Austin Kiessig proposes frozen spinach as an alternative…

      But you have to add the salt, butter, or other items to make the spinach palatable to eat, and the direct costs in time/$ to prepare it. If you tested people, and nearly all would choose the burger over a plate of plain spinach, then you’re skipping an important factor. I love spinach, but the average consumer will require a substantial amount of salt, butter, probably cheese…(think like an order of “creamed spinach” at a steakhouse). Even then you’d be hard pressed to reach 50-50 in a taste test. Once you factor in the “palatability” of the average consumer, I’m not sure the comparison holds up. I say this as someone that virtually never eats fast food, and I love spinach.

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  89. Alex says:

    Is that a serious question??? All the fast foods might be closed! There are plenty of evidence that meat, above all that kind of indescribable substances sold by McDonald’s cause a chain reaction of disasters. Jeeez people! Please use internet to get informed! Do you know about the 17 pesticides in a hamburger? And about the antibiotics, hormones, and fecal bacteria??? without considering environment and living beings… Do you really care about yourself?

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  90. Matt says:

    390 calories of non-satiating fats and oils. These are unhealthy because of the frequency and volume in which they are consumed by most McDonald’s patrons, and because you CAN eat five of them in a sitting and still be hungry. A cup of cottage cheese has equal protein for less calories and its less than a dollar. And is extremely filling.

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  91. Laura says:

    I would put food in quotes. This “food” has all this in it: Carbonate, Ammonium Sulfate, Ammonium Chloride, Dough Conditioners (May Contain One or More of: Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, DATEM, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide, Mono and Diglycerides, Ethoxylated Monoglycerides, Monocalcium Phosphate, Enzymes, Guar Gum, Calcium Peroxide), Sorbic Acid, Calcium Propionate and/or Sodium Propionate (Preservatives), Soy Lecithin.

    Also I bet a veggie burrito with brown rice and beans would be considered more bountiful AND contain fewer ingredients. I made this the other night for $9 and got 5 servings. Why are we comparing lentils ( a single ingredient food) to this multi ingredient “food.” This is all not to mention how unbountiful the mass production of meat is for the planet….

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  92. Dom says:

    Ok. Yes this food has nutrition in it, it is edible after all. You have a winning argument. Amongst the nutrition is so much filler and over processed toxins.

    Seriously, Look at all of these ingredients Majority of them are very harmful, chemicals or overly processed. Why does the bun have so many ingredients? Isn’t bread just flour and water?

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