National Editor Tom Karst
National Editor Tom Karst

Like the poor, McDonald's will always be with us. It is a good thing, because I need that dollar menu.

I will always be driving through the Golden Arches for something, whether McDouble or chocolate shake.


And they seem to be getting better. The latest evidence is news of their menu improvements.

The "billions served" fast food chain announced this week it will be posting calorie information on its menus. Um, not sure I want to know how many calories are in the large chocolate shake.

But progress is progress, and McD's is also touting what it is calling a nutrition progress report.

One of its commitments is to "develop additional vegetable, fruit or low-fat dairy choices for the Happy Meal and roll out over the next few years."

From the news release:

“McDonald’s initiatives to provide Apple Slices and a fat-free milk option in the Happy Meals are aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, as is the goal to reduce sodium, added sugars and saturated fats in foods,” said Judith C. Rodriguez, PhD, RD, LD/N, FADA, Chairperson and Professor, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Brooks College of Health.

“The transparency and availability of nutrition information enables consumers to make choices and can help caregivers teach and model decision-making behavior to children. These are life skills that will benefit them not only at McDonald’s but in every aspect of life.”

2013 Menu Tests Include More Recommended Food Groups

To make nutritious choices more convenient and accessible, McDonald’s revealed plans today to test foods that would increase the number of wholesome choices on its menu. The menu items being explored for 2013 include more recommended food groups. Among the additions being tested:

More seasonal fruit and vegetables options, such as blueberries and cucumbers, during peak seasons.

Additional produce side options and grilled chicken choices for Happy Meals.

The McWrap, inspired by McDonald’s Europe, features fresh vegetables and is available in three flavors – Chicken & Bacon, Sweet Chili Chicken, and Chicken & Ranch – starting at 350 calories.

New breakfast choices, including an egg-white breakfast sandwich on an English muffin made with 8 grams of whole grain.

This is kind of commitment to "nutritious choices" is good news for the fresh produce industry and drive-by patrons like myself.  If apple slices are followed by blueberries, cucumbers, peppers, carrots and other  "produce side items," McDonald's will be more than a guilty pleasure seasoned with a pinch of nostalgia.