'Healthy Alternative' vs. 'Fresh Ingredients'

Fast-food hasn't ever (seriously) been associated with slim and trim. If the doctor prescribes you visit fast-food institutions no more than once a week...should that suggestion change with the increasing presence of healthier options?

I'm not sure how long places like McDonald's, Wendy's, Taco Bell, and all the rest have been pitching healthier alternatives, but how much do these change your perception of them? More importantly, do they influence your behavior?

Ken Bruno from has an article worth reading on how fast-food marketers are talking up greens and good ingredients. McDonald's is now promoting a line of smoothies, whose large size contains 320 calories, compared to their Triple Chocolate large shake which weighs in at 770 calories. Fair enough. Being able to knock 450 calories off of dessert is nice.

Then you have Wendy's and Chipotle, who are fighting for customers by pitching the "freshness" of their products. On their website, Chipotle has a big section called "food with integrity" -- their commitment is to find the very best ingredients that respects animals, the environment, and farmers. Wendy's is highlighting their latest round of "fresh" salads, packed with the "finest ingredients". But again, Wendy's is more focused on alternatives than an overall food revolution...but they're at least getting the language right.

What's appealing about the fresh ingredients argument is that it gives me the impression that their restaurant and food - at their core - is more wholesome and eco-friendly. It seems easy to offer an "alternative". Let's be honest...if the majority of your menu sends Jillian Michaels into hysterics, an alternative isn't difficult to come by.

But offering your customers food with integrity begins with the very first item you create for your menu. In fact, it starts before you even create the menu. It begins with a promise to your future consumers that at your core, you're looking out for their best interest.

What do ya'll think? What's more appealing to you? Having a healthy alternative or fresh ingredients? Does it even make a difference?
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