New York Post movie critic Kyle Smith may have discovered the "greatest food in human history": the McDonald's McDouble, available on value menus near you for as little as a buck. His case, which riffs on a comment at the Freakonomics blog, is worth a read:
What is "the cheapest, most nutritious and bountiful food that has ever existed in human history" Hint: It has 390 calories. It contains 23g, or half a daily serving, of protein, plus 7% of daily fiber, 20% of daily calcium and so on.
Also, you can get it in 14,000 locations in the US and it usually costs $1. Presenting one of the unsung wonders of modern life, the McDonald's McDouble cheeseburger.
Smith's column (Mc)doubles as a value-driven retort to fast-food scolds:
For the average poor person, it isn't a great option to take a trip to the farmers market to puzzle over esoteric lefty-foodie codes. (Is sustainable better than organic? What if I have to choose between fair trade and cruelty-free?) Produce may seem cheap to environmentally aware blond moms who spend $300 on their highlights every month, but if your object is to fill your belly, it is hugely expensive per calorie.
Junk food costs as little as $1.76 per 1,000 calories, whereas fresh veggies and the like cost more than 10 times as much, found a 2007 University of Washington survey for the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. A 2,000-calorie day of meals would, if you stuck strictly to the good-for-you stuff, cost $36.32, said the study's lead author, Adam Drewnowski.
"Not only are the empty calories cheaper," he reported, "but the healthy foods are becoming more and more expensive. Vegetables and fruits are rapidly becoming luxury goods." Where else but McDonald's can poor people obtain so many calories per dollar?
In terms of sheer low-brow culinary enjoyment, I'd probably rank pizza ahead of fast-food burgers. But in terms of convenience, cost, and overall satisfaction, it's hard to beat the burger.