retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The Washington Post reports that a new Shake Shack - the burger concept developed by Danney Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group - has opened in Washington, DC, and one of the first enthusiastic customers was First Lady Michelle Obama.

That’s right. The same First Lady Michelle Obama who has made such a cause out of childhood nutrition and obesity issues.

The Post noted that the First Lady ordered a ShackBurger, fries, chocolate shake and a Diet Coke - all of which came to 1,700 calories, if she ate the whole thing herself. (She was with friends, the the Post notes that it is at least possible that she shared her fries.)

Now, some will suggest that this activity implies a certain hypocrisy on the part of the First Lady. (She got a lot of criticism earlier this year when she had ordered ribs while out to dinner one night.)

But this misses the point.

Obama has spoken passionately about the importance of making sure that everybody - especially children - have access to healthy food. She has spoken passionately about the importance of exercise. And she has spoken about the importance of moderation.

The point of living a healthy life, I think, is being able to enjoy a Shake Shack burger and fries, (or whatever your gastronomic passion happens to be) and then go for a jog or a bike ride or just shoot some hoops with your kids later in the day.

After playing “gotcha” about the meal’s calorie count, the Post does get this part right, quoting Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, as saying: "While the goal for healthy eating is to limit choices like fries and shakes, occasional treats won't hurt. The problem is that many Americans do this more than occasionally. It is good to see that even someone as committed to health as the first lady knows that healthy eating is about balance not perfection.”

Balance. Moderation. And not denial.

It shouldn’t be an eye-opener. But for many, it is. And should be.
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