Healthy, Organic & On the Road: A Dilemma

January 4th, 2008

The holiday season really got me thinking about how to maintain a healthy, mostly organic diet while traveling. The traffic down Route I-95 reminded me that I’m not the only one with this challenge.

Sure, you can pack healthy snacks to combat hunger while on the road. But when traffic pile-ups occur, or fatigue sets in, there’s no substitute for pulling off the highway and into a restaurant. But where to go? Even those who normally avoid fast food will confess that fast food restaurants can seem like welcome outposts off a major interstate. So it’s at these roadside McDonalds, Denny’s and Pizza Huts that you will find the bewildered vegetarians and organic foodies, desperately looking for something – anything – healthy to eat. And while some of these fast food restaurants have made great strides in offering healthier options, the food is not organic or locally grown. Sometimes it doesn’t even taste fresh!

Following is a listing of the best options I’ve found for organic on-the-go eating that should be easily accessible from most major interstates. No, they’re not perfect – I still dream of Broccoli Heaven, my fantasy roadside snackbar. But they’ll do in a pinch! What’s been your experience? Leave a comment and share!

Panera Bread – Panera features two kids’ menu items with partial organic ingredients – a grilled organic American cheese sandwich and a “Kid’s Deli” sandwich, which is organic cheese with your choice of roast beef, ham or turkey. Both items are served with Horizon organic milk* and Horizon squeezable organic yogurt.

Target – Yes, Tar-zhay! The in-store cafes feature a Kids organic mac n’ cheese meal, which is served with Horizon squeezable organic yogurt and Horizon organic milk. True confessions: as our local Target overlooks busy railroad tracks, which my 5-year-old son adores, I am a frequent diner at Target. That’s how I know that they are often sold out of the squeezable organic yogurt. This poses a problem when the well-meaning clerk asks if my son would like “fruit snacks” instead – as in the high fructose corn syrup, GMO variety. Of course, he would like some of this “special treat” – some GMO corn syrup and sugar to go with his organic meal! Arrggh….

Chipotle – While Chipotle does not have purely organic meals, some of its beans are organic, and its chicken and pork are sourced from non-factory farms. Chipotle also recently announced that it would serve only rBGH-free sour cream at its more than 530 restaurants. For a cool graph that shows where Chipotle’s “naturally raised” meats are available nationwide, click here.

* You may have heard of claims that Horizon milk is not truly organic. There were lawsuits filed alleging that the cows were not being treated in accordance with organic standards. However, the suits did not allege that the cows have been treated with growth hormones or antibiotics or fed unnatural substances, as can be the case with conventional milk. Given this, Horizon organic milk is a better choice than the conventional milk available at these fast food outlets.

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

2 Responses to “Healthy, Organic & On the Road: A Dilemma”

  1. MamaBird on January 4, 2008 1:39 pm

    Right on, thanks for the travel dining tips. Really, I heart packing snacks and eating them all ride long but knowing where to go is key. Are there many Paneras on the 95 ride? Haven’t been on it in a bit…

    It seems like every major shopping center has a Panera and a Target! There are many such shopping centers visible from the road. Thanks for dropping a line! — Lynn

  2. Sue on January 8, 2008 8:10 am

    I love Panera Bread too and try to seek these out while on the road or needing a quick bite for the kids. I like that can always find some sort of salad that is delicious and pretty tasty breads. The cheese bread is worth a try.

    If you get a chance, can you check out this rumor I heard from a fellow blogger. Is Chipotle a subsidy of MacDonald’s? My friend claims it is.


    Thanks for your comment! Actually, McDonalds was an early investor in Chipotle (in ’98); but they sold off their stake in ’06. — Lynn

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