by Chris Chase, Bingham Fellows Class of 2013 —
Would you believe the statement “Fast food is not the problem, it’s the choice you make at the restaurant?” Well, maybe you should. The Bingham Fellows meeting at Yum! Headquarters was full of eye opening information that debunked popular myths.
Is fast food the problem?
The 2013 Bingham Fellows mission is to develop a smart food culture. It’s a popular notion that fast food is part of the reason people don’t eat healthy food, are obese, have health issues and make bad nutritional choices. We learned, however, this is only part of the story.
Jonathon Blum, Chief Nutritional Officer at Yum!, provided our group with several data points we weren’t expecting. First, industry market surveys from customers universally state they want healthy food. As a result, Yum! has tried to provide healthy alternatives on their menu. Melissa Richards-Person, a 2013 Bingham Fellow and former Yum! employee, told us many of the healthy alternatives tasted really good; some were even exceptional. Jonathon shared, however, that the same people who requested health alternatives didn’t order those items. It turns out, they want nutritional food but chose to eat high-calorie options when in the restaurant. Despite many healthy alternatives, only 3% of the Yum! items purchased represent healthy food.
Will a marketing campaign lead to a smart food culture?
Another finding from Yum! is people don’t like to be told what to eat. One of the Bingham Fellows brought up the book “Eat This, Not That” and was wondering if that guidance could positively impact food choices. It turns out, the book’s premise is on target but the message needs to be presented in a way where people feel they have a choice.
Can Bingham Fellows tell experts how to do their jobs?
During the day, several former Bingham Fellows spoke to the current class. One of the lessons they learned was “Bingham Fellows are not experts, so how can they help experts do their job?” The point is, we will not be experts but perhaps we can focus on something that helps make the expert’s job easier.
Are financial incentives the first, second or third most effective motivator?
None of the above, they are fourth. We learned that in our Influencer Training during the second half of the day. Ask a Bingham Fellow what the first three are and how they can influence Louisville to have a smarter food culture.