One of the few pleasures of my current road trip is the chance to eat at Burgerville, a fast food chain based in Vancouver, WA, but with more stores in Oregon and none north of Centralia. Their motto is Fresh►Local►Sustainable; we’re proud to have them as a client. 

Their attitude toward food may be a little different from what is ordinarily thought of as a fast food.

Healthful food choices are a natural for us. We use local, vegetarian-fed and antibiotic-free beef in our burgers, cage-free eggs in our breakfast items and our salads feature mixed greens with sustainable, local ingredients such as smoked salmon and Oregon hazelnuts.

As I entered their Kelso, Washington store last week, after being greeted by literally every member of the staff, I ordered my Rosemary Chicken Sandwich and Cherry Chocolate Shake, paid and was handed my receipt This is quite different “fast” food, as both items were individually prepared, and I had time to look down at my bill (pictured). Because I am wired that way, the bill immediately brought to mind the restaurant food labeling provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, about which I blogged last year. 


The PPACA contains a requirement that retail food establishments with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name (even if under different ownership, such as a franchise) post certain basic nutrition information for their “standard menu items.”   While the FDA has recently withdrawn guidance on how to conform to the statute, it claims it will propose regulations by the March 23, 2011, statutory deadline.


Burgerville appears to have made a virtue out of necessity. As you examine the bill, you will see two things. First, my food order is compared to two different daily caloric intake amounts, 2000 and 2500 calories. Second, Burgerville notes on the bill that I have the option of ordering my shake with yogurt instead of ice cream, which would cut the calories by about 45% and the fat intake by 90%. With this information, I can make choices, both on this trip to the restaurant and next time. This time, I rode my bike after dinner for eight hard miles. Next time, I’m ordering the yogurt shake.


Note: next time was the very next day, as I stopped at the Centralia, Washington store and indeed asked for my shake to be made with yogurt. Not only did I save the calories and fat, but the extra tang of the yogurt worked really well with the chocolate and cherries. 


I suppose that makes me a bit of an anecdotal counterexample to the study published last month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, which indicated that ordering patterns were no different at Taco Time restaurants in King County, Washington, where caloric labeling is mandatory, and their stores in other jurisdictions.