Restaurant Search Rant

I just learned from today's issue of the National Restaurant Association SmartBrief e-newsletter that there's a searchable tool to help you find local, healthy(er) restaurant options.
Oh Joy! I said, in hopes of anticipating some great discovery nearby that I hadn't alreayd tapped...and believe me I probably tapped most anything with a table and chairs near my office!

Well the article in the newsletter said the following:
Let health care organizations help your marketing efforts What if customers could learn about your restaurant from health professionals, health organizations and health insurance companies? They will when you join the Healthy Dining Program and HealthyDiningFinder.com, a new Web site launched in collaboration with the National Restaurant Association. One way the program promotes participating restaurants is through liaisons with respected organizations interested in promoting Americans' health. These entities and individuals steer consumers towards restaurants that offer healthful choices as part of their menu mix. Visit HealthyDiningFinder.com to learn more.

Once I clicked on to HealthyDiningFinder.com and entered my office's zip code...I was aghast, yes AGHAST, at seeing what kind of restaurants this service considered healthy(er) -- but then again most folks don't give this a second thought:
1) Domino's (hardly natural, not that much vegetable or fiber value)
2) Culver's (fried cheese curds and frozen custard shakes? Are you kidding me?!)
3) Panda Express (ok passable for regular diners, but not for vegetarians -- chicken stock hides in many a place)
4) Subway (ok passable, but no chick peas or protein sources for vegetarians unless you add the mysterious veggi patti)
5) Bakers Square (ok, and they have a veggi burger and, supposedly, a veggi chili)
6) Famous Daves (a rib and BBQ place?)
7) Arby's (I only know them for their curly fries and mozzarella sticks...granted they've been pushing sandwiches with veggies lately...)
8) Champps (passable with some careful weeding of the menu)
9) PF Chang's (Finally! something healthier AND the best part? they have brown rice as an alternative to white rice)
10) Kona Grill (Yes! Veggi sushi and plenty more, indeed a healthier locale for regular diners and special diets)

I could really only peacefully and whole-heartedly agree with two of the choices. According to the website's information page:
Restaurants featured on this site have joined the Healthy Dining Program because they have a sincere interest in offering their customers healthier choices and nutrition information. These restaurants are leading the nation by joining the Healthy Dining Program to support the health and dietary efforts of Americans.

I think these guys are just creating media spin and artificial promotion to a service for getting a restaurant location visibility. Not really much health orientation that I can tell.

A nugget for you to think about.
- J