"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


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.


Pasteurized Process American Cheese


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).



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).


Chopped onions.


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


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.



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)



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...'


Randal L. Schwartz

There's absolutely no need for dietary fiber, and some recents studies have actually shown it to be harmful. (http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fiber/)


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.


Randal L. Schwartz

"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.


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.


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


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.


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.