On February 4, I blogged about the sodium content in typical menu items of two popular restaurants, Earls and Milestones, for which I received great feedback from readers. One reader encouraged me to contact these establishments in hopes of starting a dialogue about what steps each might take to reduce the colossal amount of salt in their dishes. Just to let you know, both companies thanked me for my concerns, but I heard nothing more from their PR or customer service departments – I guess, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: Earls grosses a whopping $260 Million annually, while Milestones serves over 5.5 million guests every year. Why should they bother?
As I have alluded to before, we as customers are in the driver’s seat and need to voice our demands in order for the food industry to shift their focus from pure profit to profiting from offering healthier choices. Over time, with more and more individuals dealing with chronic disease, restaurants will need to feel a sense of responsibility as community stewards, but need to also come to the realization that healthy food can mean big revenue.
Incidentally, we ended up eating at Milestones recently and I specifically asked for menu choices that were lower in sodium. Although the server did not know specifically which items these were, she did manage to find a manager who could be of assistance: low and behold, I was presented with the “Sodium Conscious” menu you see below with a list of items to choose from (perhaps they found the menu hidden behind an old table or shelf). In summary, Milestones suggested getting the dressing on the side to help reduce sodium content, so I opted for the California Spring Salad without dressing (it was delicious, by the way). But, if you have a hankering for pasta, the menu offers quite a few options. They also support the concept of asking for a piece of protein (fish, chicken, meat) without seasoning, paired with vegetables and plain rice on the side. Milestones, you are on the right track, but don’t hide this valuable information from your customers. Instead, promote it! Earls, I suggest you start thinking about moving with the times: healthy pub food is truly a winning and profitable concept.