Food Babe Investigates: Why Chick-fil-A?

This is a guest post from Vani Hari (a.k.a. The Food Babe) and New York Times Best Selling author. You can read more about her take on the food industry in her second book, Feeding You Lies!

Long before I became the Food Babe I used to be addicted to Chick-fil-A. I remember the first time I tasted it – it was at the mall when I was very little and they used to have the free samples. There was a lady walking around outside of the store with hot, fresh pieces of newly fried chicken on little toothpicks. It was free so of course, my parents let me try it.

The smell alone was intoxicating, not to mention the taste. What continued for many years was countless meals of Chick-fil-A during my childhood followed by almost daily consumption in college. Thinking about it now, even though I haven’t had it in what seems like a decade…I still know what a Chick-fil-A sandwich smells and tastes like.

This is why I chose the mall to begin my latest food investigation. A lot of people who generally don’t eat fast food still eat Chick-fil-A. A lot of people say “I only take my kids to Chick-fil-A once in a while.” Countless moms and dads take their kids to Chick-fil-A, thinking it’s better than other fast food places.

When I first wrote the post Chick-Fil-A or Chemical-Fil-A? last summer, so many of my closest friends and family members were downright shocked at the list and type of ingredients Chick-fil-A uses – which are similar to big chains like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s.

Back in the day, restaurants were not required to list ingredients, there was no google, and we were all pretty much kept in the dark about what was in our food. Now that times are different, and most of the information is readily available at our fingertips and in most stores themselves, I wanted to know how many parents have actually looked at the ingredients in Chick-fil-A. So I asked.

I started off the questioning with “Why did you bring your family to Chick-fil-A today?” I interviewed 30 families in total between a mall based Chick-fil-A and a popular standalone store.

These were the top three (food related) answers.

1. “My kids asked for it.” The information I am about to share may make you think twice about giving in to their requests.

One of the main ingredients of Chick-Fil-A’s nuggets (regular and the new grilled ones) which is listed twice is Monosodium Glutamate, a.k.a. MSG. The amount of MSG that food companies can put in your food is not regulated. MSG is an excitotoxin that can excite brain cells to death. MSG can cause adverse reactions in some people including “skin rashes, itching, hives, nausea, vomiting, migraine headaches, asthma, heart irregularities, depression and even seizures.”

As a follow up question, it was natural for me to ask the parents who first introduced their child to Chick-fil-A. The answer was always pointed back at them. The parents introduced Chick-fil-A to their children.

Which reminds of me of one of Lisa’s older posts – Kids eat processed food because parents give it them. I couldn’t agree more with Lisa’s thoughts here. “Young children have to rely on their parents to provide good food for them.” You have to admit, parents have a lot of control over what their children eat whether they take on this responsibility or not.

2. “It’s better quality and tastes fresh.” It may taste good, but I have to question whether adding MSG to meat from conventional chickens that are sometimes given antibiotics is quality? If you look at a typical Chick-fil-A sandwich to see what keeps it “fresh” you’ll find close to 100 ingredients, 18 of them being different types of preservatives.

I wonder if these preservatives could keep a Chick-fil-A sandwich pretty much intact the same way it kept a Big Mac intact for 30 days exposed to air, illustrated by Morgan Spurlock’s experiment with McDonald’s during the movie Super Size Me?

The FDA allows food companies to add these preservatives in limited quantities.  However, they do not prohibit combining different food items together.

For example, let’s take TBHQ which stands for “Tertiary Butylhydroquinone.” TBHQ is a chemical made from butane and can only be used at a rate of 0.02 percent of the total oil in a product. This ingredient is listed twice, once in the chicken and once in the bun. It’s easy to see how the typical American diet can result in one big whopping dose of preservatives in a given day.

Chick-fil-A abides by the required FDA limits, but limiting TBHQ to a certain percentage is the same logic the FDA used when allowing a product to still contain 0.5 grams of transfat and be labeled “transfat free.” Fresh, as you can see, can be a chemically derived illusion.

3. (Many versions of…) “If I turn in the toy from the kid’s meal I can get an ice cream cone that my kid loves and I don’t have to deal with all these annoying toys everywhere in my house.” Having less toys may sound better, but check out what’s in Chick-fil-A’s “Icedream.”

This little treat has all sorts of processed sugar, transfat, caramel coloring, and artificial food coloring x 2. Since when did you need to color vanilla ice cream white? I couldn’t find out exactly what kind of caramel colors Chick-fil-A sources, but the caramel colors that some fast food chains use in soda is linked to cancer.

California recently added caramel coloring to a list of carcinogens that caused soda manufacturers to reformulate their ingredients to avoid a cancer warning label on their product.

After speaking to these families, I ended each conversation with one last question. I asked “Have you ever reviewed the ingredients listed in the Chick-fil-A nutrition guide?” No one had. Not even one family out of the 30 that I interviewed. I tried to hand out as many guides as possible but only a handful of families accepted them.

How many of these families would think eating MSG, TBHQ, artificial colors, and caramel coloring is just fine? I made it a point to approach each family with an open heart and kindness, but when I was done for the day, the whole exercise left me sad, depleted and reminded me that we have a lot more work to do in this country to educate people about REAL FOOD.

I want to leave you with something you can make the next time you have a craving or your kid “asks”.  Here is a REAL FOOD organic recipe that tastes like Chick-fil-A so you can truly provide fresh to your family.  Enjoy :)

Comments have been closed on this article, which was written by Vani Hari. If you have a question or comment you can reach her at

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425 thoughts on “Food Babe Investigates: Why Chick-fil-A?”

  1. I don’t think anyone actually thinks CFA is healthy. It’s deep-fried chicken and french fries, come on. They go there because it tastes good and they have AMAZING customer service. At least, that’s why I go there. That said, I do think they offer some healthIER options than other fast food places. Their grilled chicken actually tastes good, and my non-fry-eating kids love the carrot salad and apple sauce pouches. We eat healthy most of the time, so I honestly have no problem with eating there a couple of times a month. Unless you plan to live in a home-cooked-food bubble, I think you’ll find some unfavorable food processing at pretty much every restaurant. If you don’t like it, don’t eat there, but don’t treat the rest of us who aren’t freaked out by it like we’re ignorant, bad parents for making that choice for OUR family. It’s really none of your business.

  2. Just thought that I would share that the founder of Chick-fil-A, Truett Cathy, who invented the Chick-fil-A sandwich is 91 years old and still goes to work every day as the president of a 4 billion dollar, debt free company. Oh, and by the way, he eats a hot, fresh Chick-fil-A sandwich with a ice cold coke every single day for lunch just like he has for the past 45+ years since he invented the sandwich. I think we will all be okay! Step away from the ledge!

    1. Your implication that people who are concerned with food additives are just crazy is offensive. You don’t have to agree. But you have no justification to lay down blanket statements about what is healthy based on one healthy person and then imply that everyone whose personal experience would point to an opposite conclusion is just crazy.

      I admire Truett Cathy. I used to love to eat in his establishments. I still would if the food quality matched the standards I have set for myself. They are the cleanest in my area and they have the friendliest employees. But none of that changes my need to eat a cleaner diet. So I hope Mr. Cathy and his company get on board with cleaning up their menu so I can eat there again on a regular basis at some point in the future.

      1. My wife eats homemade cake for breakfast along with a coke. She has a second in the afternoon. She has not taken a sick day off for 28 years. Moderation in all things.

      2. No, it is offensive that someone would smear chick-fil-a without giving any comparative information from chick-fil-a’s competitors. Chick-fil-a is blatantly the healthiest fast food out there yet this article doesn’t even mention the fact that a FRIED chicken sandwich from CFA is HALF the calories of a big mac. I am not trying to tell you that CFA is the healthiest thing you can eat but I am saying that they provide healthy options and seem to care a lot more than their competitors which is not mentioned in this article.

      3. Let’s not compare apples and oranges. If you compare McDonalds Chicken Sandwich to Chick-Fil-A – you’ll notice almost the same number of ingredients and the same types of ingredients.

  3. Interesting that some of you say you avoid soy like the plague but enjoy a fast food sandwich with actual meat on it. FYI, soy is more than just tofu. If you read Chick-fil-a’s own label above, it says “soybean oil”. That is soy. The oil from the bean is no different nutritionally than the bean itself (people with soy allergies know this well). If you’re not reading every label, you will be ingesting GMO soy. It is a filler ingredient all food companies use in just about everything that is processed, from the ketchup in the little packets (including the ones at Chick-fil-a) and in the salad dressings you put on your lettuce. You have to go WAY out of your way to avoid soy in the grocery store even–it is in just about everything (even candy).

    And to avoid MSG, you can’t just cut out fast food. It has to be anything that is pre-seasoned (flavored potato chips, all store-bought chicken broth, seasoning packets, etc.). And FYI, yeast extract is the new MSG-like alternative companies use so that they can put “No MSG” on the label. But it is an excito-toxin just the same that is also known to cause neurological disorders like MS. And what’s more is the FDA allows food companies to hid yeast extract under umbrella labels, like “contains natural flavoring”. Try to find a fruit drink (even “organic” ones) without that label.

    To those who say it isn’t effecting you, don’t give me that. I’m 30 years old, developed MS, and have since reversed all my symptoms with nutrition alone. So talk to me when you reach 100 years of age and have no heart bypass surgeries, crippling auto-immune diseases, and the like. Nutrition effects all of us.

    1. You are right. Soy is practically everything and so is MSG. And so is gluten and any number of other things that shouldn’t be. I avoid soy, but not just by avoiding in one form and pretending it isn’t in anything else. I avoid it in all those packaged processed food out there. And my husband and kids are starting to see the difference in my health not just from that change but from all the changes I’ve made and they are reading labels and turning down processed foods more and more too. I’m so happy to finally see so much change and so much hope for our future.

    2. Chris,
      I know someone else who had MS and was going downhill fast. Was in a wheelchair. She completely reversed her disease through eliminating processed foods and taking control of her diet. She has no signs of the disease now! One time, she got lazy again with her diet and immediately started to feel sick again. I am a believer now that processed foods make people sick. I am trying to improve my diet a step at a time. I’m not sick (yet), but I want to stop this dietary madness. Anyway, just wanted to say you have a great point.

  4. Well, I had never checked out the ingredient list before, but I always chose Chick-fil-a for my kids because the chicken actually looked like real chicken instead of a mass of pressed and processed who knows what. I’ll think twice now. As for everyone who is complaining about this article, please view it for what it is. It’s a person who is passionate about eating well and avoiding anything that isn’t “real food”. It’s someone who is trying to educate people (like myself) who actually thought I was doing better for my kids and myself by eating at Chick-fil-a as opposed to somewhere else. I can’t say I’ll never eat there again because in a pinch I would still probably choose it over another fast food choice, but I am glad to be armed with all the information.

  5. This is so sad. I had not ever read the ingredients and now that I know, I can’t be okay with eating that food again. I really liked the company, too.

  6. I also found this article to be quite condescending.
    I see Food Babe has responded to a lot of the positive comments, but not addressed any of the ones and I’m wondering why that is. ???

    1. Kristin – It’s too bad that you feel that way. I stand by my thoughts as laid out in this post – it is not meant to put down the parents I interviewed or the ones reading this, but rather teach people that Chick-Fil-A is not any different from other fast food. If I can help one person suffering from a food related ailment with this information, I have done my job. Don’t worry I’ll be responding to those other comments too!

      1. I get your message but I think it would resonate with more people if the tone was a bit less accusatory. I do appreciate you responding to my question.

      2. Why are people so mad at FoodBabe ?!?! Seriously. You all need to grow up. Oh and open your eyes. Quit reading food blogs if you are all so offended.

  7. We’re all gonna die. Eventually. Chick fil a is the best chicken sandwich. Are they being attacked because they are an openly christian supporting organization and closed on Sunday? How about this, if you are really concerned, don’t eat there. Moderation in all things. My kids got to eat McDonalds, Chick fl a etc. They are fine. If kids are screwed up, it’s usually because their parents were a bunch of screwed up self centered fruitcakes. Now my mouths watering, thinking of a ChickFil A, waffle fries, carrot salad.

  8. This blog has made me hungry. Time to go get a spicy chicken sandwich! Thanks for the idea.

  9. Great article! I do eat at Chick Fil A but have switched to
    salads or grilled chicken sandwiches when I’m in a crunch.
    I completely agree and the only safe food is home grown
    or raised. I personally don’t do either so we are
    trying to shop at Sprouts and Whole Foods.
    A good alternative to fast food is REAL food fast at a chain Jason’s
    deli. We happen to own a franchise and this company
    is revolutionizing the restaurant industry but there is a lot
    of resistance and cost to producing REAL food.
    Companies change when you hit them where it counts…their P and L statements.

  10. Thank you for this!
    A great reminder that I did the right thing to tell a friend forget the McDonalds for lunch today and pick up Subway turkeys instead.

    I did not find this article condescending at all.

  11. For everyone that reads this article and feels compelled to post in favor of fastfood, please include your height and weight at the time of your posting. Surely those electing to justify their consumption should also classify themselves accordingly.

    I’ve seen the ingredients list and often base my ordering off of it. Diabetes, thyroid, hereditary… bs, you are fat because you eat fatty foods.

    If you need to deep fry anything… its not good for you


    1. If I’m fat it’s because I eat lots of homemade high quality food and also have 16′ arms, bench press 250 etc. Different strokes for different folks. Oh I’m in my sixties.

    2. Even Lisa said treats in moderation are understandable…that being said, we sometimes go to Chic-Fil-A. And in the interest of full disclosure, I’m 5’4″, 105 pounds, Christian, pack my kids real food lunches every day, and am aware of artificial colors, nitrates, and the dangers/benefits of soy.

      I didn’t read the post as being condescending; I thought she was just trying to make the point that a lot of people don’t KNOW what they’re eating. Marketing plays a big part in people’s choices; it’s easy to believe that a chicken breast, in any form, is healthier for you than a fast-food burger, and people are willing to believe that. Posts like this don’t bother me nearly as much as comment from people (I’m thinking back to the one about artificial colors) who claim that all of their children’s health issues have been cured by a change in diet. If so, that’s great, but I’m skeptical of such claims. We have been on a 90%-real-food journey for the past several years, and even when I am ridiculously careful about my son’s food consumption, I can say without hesitation that food in and of itself is not the CAUSE of his ADHD, nor is healthy food the CURE for it. A bad diet for a couple days will surely manifest itself in some over-the-top behaviors, but a great diet doesn’t guarantee angelic behavior, either.

      1. Well Said Michelle! (5’3 and 132). Although we try to eat as organic and natural as possible we do indulge in Chick fil A and even McDonald’s (gasp) on occasion (no more than twice a month typically). Sometimes it’s convience and sometimews we just wnat junkfood. But I agree with the article in that we as a society need to pay more attention to what goies into our food.

      2. I feel like I am missing something in your background to help me understand your post. Or perhaps I am unconsciously reading something into it because of my own experience.

        I am 41, 5’5″, and as of this morning at a new low of 197 pounds. As for my weight loss journey I have a long way to go but I am thrilled to be 52pounds less than my highpoint weight. Over the years I have faced quite a lengthy list of illnesses and other problems.

        However I mostly wanted to write to ask you to clarify if you have a disagreement with the idea of avoiding artificial colors? or are you just bugged by people who are impressed with the results they have gotten by doing so and want to help others by spreading the word?

        I have been on this “clean up our diet” journey for about 15 years now and I have had successes and missteps along the way. One of my successes was doing the Feingold program. The Feingold group is one of the main organizations that promotes the idea of people avoiding artificial colors, but they also have a lot more to their program.

        Among the things I have learned over the years:

        1) Everyone is an individual. No two people will get the exact same results for the exact same diet.

        2) For any one person who is not optimally healthy there are probably multiple contributing factors that they may need to address in their lives in order to be doing everything they can to improve.

        3) Some food changes need to be 100% such as with myself and gluten. Many people whose immune system has developed a negative response to gluten must avoid it completely or get sick, maybe for days. Some people who have a negative response to artificial colors or to a specific artificial color must avoid it completely or they will see the negative results, possibly for days.

        4) Food changes that do not need to be 100% are much more easily handled (at least in my experience) by allowing yourself to do the best you can as much of the time as you can and not beat yourself up for the occasional “treat” or mistake.

        5) The impact on one’s health that comes from a harmful part of our diet or our environment in general, or even any other type of illness does impact us in more ways than the physical. The emotional, mental and spiritual are all impacted. And the reverse is true as well. Anything that harms us emotionally, for example, also has a negative impact on us physically, even if it is to a small enough degree that we don’t notice it or could never pinpoint it. Sometimes it is impossible to tell what is driving what. But working to improve in all areas is best anyway.

        You may have noticed someone who got out of an abusive environment or went into therapy and began to improve in other ways as they healed emotionally. You may have seen someone begin to get healthier and then seemed to also grow into a happier person. It is all connected.

        As a mom who has suffered with depression at times and has had children who have had learning and behavioral issues, I am very well aware that any impact food additives may have had on making it harder for my children to behave in no way excused their behavior or gave me a reason to not teach them better. I am also aware that any amount of discipline and guidance while refusing to address that issue would have added a lot of undue stress on all of us and would never have been justified once I had the knowledge of the true impact of those additives. Similarly, my depressions in no way excused me from doing right in my life, but deciding I had to suck it up and refusing to do what I needed to to address the depressions would have been wrong.

        It has taken all these years but everything in my life is finally coming together so that I can be healthy and happy and do so with fewer medications than ever before. And I would encourage anyone and everyone to do everything in their power to discover all the pieces of the puzzle of their own personal story of health or lack thereof. Knowing that certain food additives are truly bad for the human body even if we do display different levels of ability to compensate for the harm they do, it is not likely to be a bad thing for just about anyone to include being rid of them from their diet in their personal journey towards better health.

    3. LOL. Well, I’m 5’4″, 125, trying to lose some pregnancy weight still. I have always been really fond of unhealthy food but before baby ate a lot of it and weighed about 115 pounds. So I think I used that as an excuse — like it was only about the weight issue.

      It’s just recently, thanks to 100 Days of Food and Food Babe, that I’ve realized there’s more to food than the ability to make you fat. I’m trying really hard to break my bad habits, but I’m such a picky eater and a bad cook that it’s been hard to figure out what to eat. Also, having two jobs and an almost-2-year-old doesn’t help with the lack of time for planning and preparation.

      Still, I will keep trying. I want my kid to eat right. Right now, he doesn’t really eat at all, LOL, but I hope that someday he becomes a real human that consumes food.
      Unfortunately, my husband is stubborn and will not listen about the things I’m learning, and he’ll buy bad stuff. He also battles me on money and doesn’t want me spending more on better quality food. I really wish he’d leave the grocery shopping entirely to me. When he goes to Costco, he usually comes home with something that may appear not-too-bad on the surface but really is.

  12. It is obvious that MSG and other preservatives are not only in Fast food but they are in all our food. The cokes that we drink to the chicken and beef that we eat. The FDA says that o.5 is allowed but when you consume products that are just below the o.5 on a daily basis , it all adds up, and most of what they preserve our food with causes cancer. I have not eaten at McDonalds or a Chick Fil A in a long while after watching the fries and burger sit on a plate for weeks at a time and not detoriate, can you imagine what that does to your digestive system. Your chicken at the grocery store and fast food restaurants are full of steroids and arsenic. All I can say is on bon appetit!! Our Government could not even tell you the long term effects of what these additives do to you cause they don’t want to know, I bet you know of someone who has had cancer or a family member etc. Just something to think about

    1. Lupe – I agree with your points here – I don’t think it’s that obvious for some people who haven’t taken the time to educate themselves. This is why I wrote this piece. When I tell people that chick-fil-a has msg, I usually hear a gasp. And you’ll notice on my Facebook page and here in the comments – that many people had no idea.

  13. TBQH is not a form of butane, that is a ridiculous and ignorant notion. TBHQ is a derivative of hydroquinone, which is itself derived from phenol. Such phenolic compounds are produced in virtually all plants. Even if it were created from butane, it has not more properties of butane than any other carbon compound.

    As to why the FDA would have a limit, the FDA limits most things that go into food. Typically this is the result of extensive research into what levels are known to be safe. Which all goes back to the fact that any substance at a low enough level is safe, and anything at a high enough level is toxic. This includes vital amino acids, lipids, even water has a lethal dose.

    I would agree that the entire food industry is backwards. Obtaining food in this country that is free of pesticides, genetic modifications, chemicals, and preservatives is near impossible, but for 100 Days to single out any one company is deceptive. Let me also add that while we can all agree that organic whole foods are preferred, we don’t always have the means to eat them for every meal. In such cases we have to make the best choice that we can, and if you’re comparing restaurants, Chick-fil-A can provide some relatively healthy options.

    1. While I haven’t bought into this thing I’ve been seeing recently about touting how similar TBHQ is to butane, I do specifically avoid TBHQ along with BHA and BHT. And I can actually say the names of them out when I speak to people about them, rather than having to abbreviate. I won’t start pulling out the studies or get technical to spar with anyone. But I am convinced that they are bad for us, no matter what the FDA says. and the more I have reviewed the FDA’s studies and their practices and guidelines in general the less I trust them to make any decisions for me or for my family.

      And in addition to that I have begun broadening my horizons from just avoiding specific food additives to embracing a whole foods lifestyle that includes my local farmer’s market and the actual farms of some of my farmers. Getting food closer to the way God intended it (or closer to the way we evolved with it for millenia depending on your point of view) seems to me to make sense and it seems to be making my family healthier.

      Plus it turns out, for all the flavors I used to think I was *gasp* giving up. My pastured pork and chicken, and beef that was exclusively grass-fed in my freezer just tastes wonderful, as does my homemade stock and sauces and most of my veggie dishes. Who knew? Animals that are raised to be healthy and happy are the best to make us healthy happy? It may be becoming a cliche but I still believe it is true.

    2. Jon – Most fast food is made up with several different preservatives – the accumulative effect can be disastrous for health, since these preservatives provide zero nutrition for the body. The article I cited, stated that in high doses (1-4 grams of TBHQ) started to grow cancerous tumors in animals. You’ve got to think that the majority of people who eat at these places are really not taking the amount of preservatives they eat on a daily basis into account – they are looking at the marketing of calories, fat grams and protein, not the ingredients.

  14. I worked at Chick Fil A for 2 years and have to say that even though these “chemicals” are being added to the chicken, at least it is REAL CHICKEN, unlike McDonald’s or BK’s pink sludge!

  15. I, for one, am glad to have this information. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never looked at the ingredients list, and am shocked that something as simple as a chicken sandwich has so many!! Yikes.

    We don’t do a lot of fast food, and we probably haven’t made our last trip to chick fil a, and yet…it’s just good to know the truth about what we put into our bodies.

    And I’m excited to try the recipe that you linked to. It looks great, and not hard at all!!

    1. Thanks for sharing Llama Momma – I think you’ll find the recipe so easy…maybe even eventually replacing the need to go to Chick-fil-a all together :)

  16. Chickfila is my favorite fast food restaurant. Yes. Even after reading this it is still my favorite. When people say the food is fresher at Chickfila I’m pretty sure they don’t think chickens are slaughtered in the back and fries are fresh picked off a waffle-fry tree. I know when I say the food is fresher I mean it tastes hot and recently cooked. Not like other fast food places where it seems like food sits under heating lamps forever. When I’m going to splurge on fast food, I am obviously taking into consideration that it’s not the best thing for me to eat (duh), but I sure as heck am going to pick the place that tastes the best.

  17. I’m so happy you posted this! I just had a conversation a few days ago about how sad I am that there isn’t a Chick-Fil-A near my town. I used to have Chick Fil A cravings that nothing else could satisfy. Might the MSG be to blame for that? Now I’ve done a complete 180. ThankyouThankyouThankyouThankyouThankyou!

  18. Wow, I am surprised by the hostile comments regarding this post. Having read this blog for quite some time, this post goes along perfectly with educationg people as to what REAL food is, and opening peoples eyes to what is in the food that they are consuming (and don’t realize). I have never ate at a chick-fil-a before, but what was said in this post applies to everything you consume, whether it is at a fast food restaurant or not. The big message here is KNOW your food!

  19. I used to work at a Chick-Fil-A and having knowing what it is like behind the scenes,
    I think this article is a big joke. Will not stop me from eating there!!!

  20. Wow I have been following this and am appalled at how ppl are. Everything comes to choice however the only way to make an informed to have the facts. Even with facts ppl will still do what they want. I think the food companies should clean up but the FDA and USDA won’t make them anyways bc of the dollars involved…money and profit campaign money will always talk. Sad but true. I feel like more ppl should put importance on food bc it equates health but they would rather take medication instead if trying to eat better to nourish their body. The food companies are out for profit plain and simple and they do not care about any persons health. I would rather spend on food than pills.

    1. True that! Health = Wealth. I’d rather spend more money on food than anything else in my life. (This is why I didn’t go to the mall for almost 6 months this past year!)

  21. Thank you for the recipe to make organic cfa! We do miss it but ate there last year when broken down and it was not good after eating real food for so long!

  22. We also avoid eating out often for this reason. I wonder what you would suggest for traveling. We take a small cooler (all we can fit in the car) and hit grocery stores for short trips, but we are planning a much longer trip in the future. We won’t be camping either. How do you feed a family on the road for extended time without restaurants at any meals? Any suggestions?

    1. Leave late at night and allow everyone to sleep during the majority of the drive.

      If you cant adjust the time you leave, then snack healthy. Dried fruit, nuts, fresh fruit (bananas), health bars that contain protein. Eat what you have to eat, but make smart choices and round corners. No fries, eat apples.

    2. I was very impressed with the guy in the movie fat sick and nearly dead, proving he could keep juicing while on the road. It really inspired me to be better and more creative for travel needs. and there are really lots of things that can work on the road.
      whole fruit
      celery and humus (or natural, no additive peanut butter)
      carrot sticks or any crudite in baggies
      these are all things you can purchase more of along the away in a ton of different places. and lots of places also have raw cheeses.

      Many kinds of sandwiches you can make at home from totally homemade ingredients you might be able to do a version of on a slightly extended trip. do you roast meat at home and slice it thin rather than buying additive full deli meats? you can stack some up with freezer paper, wrap it good, freeze it and stick in in your cooler to slowly thaw for the first couple of days of the trip. If you make homemade bread products you might be able to freeze some of them. although for me, I don’t eat any grains lately, and for my kids I would go to the health food stores in different places along the way occasionally and buy them sprouted grain bread from the freezer section.

      Also I sometimes cook in quantity at home. So anything I have in the freezer, frozen rock hard, I can put in a cooler and by the time it is thawed out heat it up or cook it in a toaster oven. My toaster oven, my juicer and my husband’s George foreman grill are the small appliances I am actually willing to pack for trips at times. So far only for visiting family or for weeklong campouts. but it is a start. There are also small portable ovens made for travel in cars apparently and there are any number of campstoves and similar things on the market.

      1. Sheril,

        Thanks for the input. We are looking at a 3 week plus on the road trip. We are a large family so there is little space in the van. Our plan includes most of the suggestions you made. Yes, we do make our own bread and grind our wheat. I can probably pack breads for the first 3-4 days, but there won’t be much more room. I don’t think we can do it restaurant free for that long, but do plan to snack through every farmer’s market we can find along the way and lots of whole milk org. yogurt and veggie pita sandwiches :) As for lunch meat – no we don’t really eat it. Thanks for the thoughts. Appreciate it.

      2. Yay, a road trip. ;p

        I’m glad to be able to help and here how you are doing! I just love the community here on this blog. :)

    3. When I was a kid in the 80s, there weren’t all these fast food places at every rest stop. Most of them had vending machines if you were lucky and picnic tables. We would go to the grocery store and fill up a cooler for our car trips. Dinners at hotels may have been at restaurants, but once again, not fast food. And when we camped we cooked then, too.

      Fast food is convenient, but it seems that this country has mass amnesia about how everyone used to live…not that far in the past! Fast food is only a treat and MAYBE ok IF you have it like once a year, but you find when you stop going for long periods, it is just gross tasting. Real food wins over time.

    4. Im currently living on the road with a type 1 diabetic. Have been for the last 100 days. We’ve eaten fast food 0 times. Carrots, snap peas, broccoli all make great snacks in the car. We cook quinoa stir fry out of the back of our 87 tercel with fresh cabbage, sweet potato and mushrooms. We don’t bring a cooler with us. And it takes about 18 minutes to make dinner every night.

      My husband has type 1 diabetes is and is climbing everyday for 365 consecutive days. So diet is all about fuel for him and with very little money we eat very healthy. So it’s possible to have “fast food” on the road with out ever stepping foot into a chain. We use a Coleman stove that is older than both of us. But any small camp stove would work and having the Coleman is a luxury since in the past we’ve used little jetboil stove.

      If anyone has more questions about eating healthy on the road with a small budget feel free to contact me at

      – Stef

  23. Honestly… Most people will come by this blog by accident just like I did and reading I wander how many of you people are just going after chik fil a bc they are a Christian organization? Then u want to bad mouth parents for not knowing? First of all u should be blaming the owners of chik fil a instead of the unknowing or unsuspecting parents.. great investigation but point your fingers elsewhere next time thanks!!

    1. I have no problem with Chick-fil-a being a Christian organization. In fact, I went there more often partly for that reason. To be honest, they have a fantastic atmosphere that I appreciate inside their stand alone stores. but I am still not going to go eat the food additives that I have decided to avoid just to support them.

      If you like them for that reason, as I did, you can still support them as Christians without insisting that I turn a blind eye on the ingredients in their food. And if you dislike them because of a dislike for Christianity, you can avoid them … still without accusing others of having a bias because of religion.

    2. Enough with the Christian Martyrdom bit. The article is about the ingredients in their food. To be honest, AS A CHRISTIAN, I have a huge problem with a proclaimed Christian Organization producing poison for people to consume on a daily basis. I have an even bigger issue with people like you throwing out the religion comment and defending the practice “in the name of the Lord…” just sayin.

      As far as your comments on the parents “not knowing,” I really have to disagree with you. Are their organizations that will take advantage of your ignorance? Absolutely. HOWEVER,that is why the parents need to educate themselves. They are ultimately responsible for their children’s well-being, not the corporations. Ignorance is not a valid excuse to something like this, especially when it’s not exactly a secret that fast food isn’t healthy.

    3. Wow, a little naive, don’t ya think Jennifer?! First off, this blog is ALL about INFORMING and not bad mouthing anybody. As a parent it’s our responsibility to make informed decisions about our children’s diet – whether you then decide to eat this kind of food or not is up to you, but at least take some time to inform yourself. Secondly, Food Babe looks at any and all food chains out there – Christian organization or not. Let’s not mix up religion with the ever so important issue of our health. Some of us are able to be Christians AND real food eaters, too.

  24. I thought this post was great and didn’t find it condescending at all. My guess is the people were responsive to you in the food court because you approached them in an open, friendly manner.

    I understand the sentiment of many people that they are doing the best they can with their choices given their particular circumstances. Nobody’s perfect. But I also think more education is better so people can effectively balance their choices. I also know people who think Chick-fil-A isn’t “fast food” and that’s always perplexed me.

    1. I agree that more education (and not the stuff the USDA and all those government programs spew) is what is needed. Maybe if there had been better education about fast food and those fake sweeteners back 20-30 years ago, my mother might not have become addicted to her sweet and low.

  25. Oh my goodness. You people make such a fuss. An occasional fast food meal is not gonna kill anyone. I’d take a chick fil a sandwich over a tofu burger any day.

    1. Ha I do agree with that …I avoid soy! And tofu and all the processed things that soy makes along with the subsidized soy crops….

      1. I also avoid soy. I really believe that all the soy in people’s diets is unhealthy. but given that Patty’s point seems to be to belittle the attention given the topic, I can’t help but wonder why she bothered reading an article on a blog aimed at encouraging people more towards real food. lol.

  26. You say the Icedream is full of transfat, but on the ingredients at it says it contains 0g of trans fat…is the website lying or are you misinformed?

    1. The answer to your question is actually in the post. “Partially hydrogenated soybean oil” is in the cone ingredients. All partially hydrogenated oils are trans fat. If there is less than 0.5 g of trans fat, the total amount of trans fat may be listed as 0 g, according to the FDA.

  27. WHOA, I am fairly new to the blog. I wrongly thought this was an article about ingredients…I didn’t realize it was full of condescension towards ignorant parents. So glad I didn’t share this with friends! I realize you have tens of thousands of readers, so it must be working, but I am not sure how this promotes the sharing of the concerns-at-hand.

  28. Hey Food Babe.

    Great review; I’m not surprised that some families would not accept the nutritional information from you. A friend of mine is working on a master’s essay that examines the role of smoking in lower-income families and he has discovered that there is a sense of rebellion in the act; people refuse to let the “government” tell them what is and is not good for them. Perhaps some of the families you encountered behaving similarly; they feel bombarded by the medical and nutritional information that is shown on the news and online and are rejecting the confusion by refusing to look deeply at their food choices.

    I personally become overwhelmed when searching the nutritional information in the grocery store. I was looking for a snack yesterday and rejected every single bag of chips I looked at because they all had preservatives and chemicals in them that I could not identify. My only option was an expensive bag of Old Dutch “gourmet” chips that only had potatoes, oil, and sea salt listed. Sticking to a Real Food pledge is very difficult!

  29. I would like to see a comparison of Chic-Fil-A and the others. This makes it sound terrible but how bad are the others.

    1. I did that exercise too…There’s really no difference. All the typical fast food giants use a couple of tricks – MSG (in some form), Sugar, Salt, Fat, and Preservatives. There are 33 ingredients in McDonalds McNuggets and 30 in Chick-fi-a Nuggets, many of the same. Some might even argue that McDonalds Chicken Sandwich is better than Chick-fil-A’s because it has less ingredients – but I think it is all the same junk in different quantities.

  30. Do you have scientific studies that point out exactly how much MSG one has to consume before brain cells die? I’m looking at the site you linked to and they say “Both Glutamate and Aspartame can cause neurons to become extremely excited and, if given in large enough doses can cause these cells to degenerate and die.” I’m not defending MSG or saying anyone should eat it, but making a link between eating chick fil a and killing brain cells in your child is a pretty serious accusation! No one is forcing me to read your article so I won’t argue, I just am truly curious and think that context is important when making such conclusions as Chick-Fil-A nuggest = brain cell death in your child.

    1. I’d like to know the answer to that too–especially when considering that glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. It is involved in over 90% of neural synapses in the central nervous system. I know that excessive glutamate release can lead to excitotoxicity causing cell death but I wonder if the levels in food are under/close too/ or well over that limit.

  31. I was wondering if you had any links to research that showed how much of the cancer causing ingredients one would have to consume in order to get cancer?

  32. Thanks for the Chick-Fil-A story. I found out the hard way 5 years ago about the MSG. I was getting debilitating migraines – tracked it back to Chick-Fil-A – even had a manager there tell me he got them and never realized it was the chicken sandwiches he was eating!!

  33. Marcella Guarin

    Thank you so much for this information. Now I wonder why my depression worsens when I Chick fil A. Also with a child with exzcema and another with asthma, this is one think I can do to help them not have flare ups among other things. Thanks a million!!

  34. Besides the chemicals, Chick-Fil-A Corporate injects a lot of intolerance into their world. Do a little research on that aspect, and the food becomes even less appealing. I’ll spend my money (and enjoy my delicious fast food on occasion) elsewhere.

  35. Who actually thinks chick-fil-a is healthier fast food? the same people who think 5 guys is healthier than Mcdonalds? I don’t like it when people are on a high horse knocking McDonalds when they are all bad. And yes I do take my kids to mcdonalds, 5 guys and chick-fil-a occasionally. You know, my daughter left an organic graham cracker house in the dining room for a year and a half and nothing happened to it. So I should no longer feed her graham crackers because it was perfectly preserved for a year and half (we took pictures too)? My kids eat healthier than most kids her age, we cook from whole foods and ingredients 90% of the time, so if you are truly tired of people saying “I only take my kids to Chick-fil-A once in a while.” then don’t listen…walk away. Realize it’s not your kid and that they DONT WANT TO KNOW and it’s not your job to change their mind, they will do it when they are ready. Or that they do know, and they think it is ok in moderation, they have assessed the risk and realized that there are more important things they want to spend their time on.

  36. Funny that people consider Chick-Fil-A a “healthier” option to other fast food; I have never eaten it, I always considered it to be one of the worst. To posts like Ron: I was diagnosed with severe aura migraines 4 years ago – one of my auras is the loss of the ability to produce and process speech – triggered by MSG and other food additives. I appreciate this blog and people who post to this blog with REAL FOOD IDEAS. I would love for more people to be aware, and care, so that real food choices were not so limited or at least not HIDDEN.

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