While it's normally frowned upon to begin anything with a definition, I think that, in this case, it's an important place to start. The USDA defines "natural" as it applies to meat, poultry, and egg products as "minimally processed and contain[ing] no artificial ingredients" — probably the last thing people would associate with fast food.
But that may be about to change. Carl's Jr. has decided to roll out an "all-natural" burger, which will have no antibiotics, steroids, or added hormones and comes from grass-fed, free-range cattle. The meat is anything but local, though, because there isn't enough domestic supply of natural beef available; it's imported from Australia. And by December 17, it'll be available in all 1,150 Carl's Jr.'s branches.
"Our objective has never been to tell people what to eat, but to serve them what they want to eat, " said Andy Puzder, CEO at CKE Restaurants, which owns the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's chains.
Apparently, then, what people want is a pretty pricey piece of meat between buns. At $6.99 for the double, it will be the chain's most expensive quarter-pounder. A single will sell for $4.69, which is almost 60% more than the standard $2.99 Famous Star With Cheese.
We think it's a smart move on the part of Carl's Jr. Millennials are more concerned with how their food is sourced than how quickly it gets to their plate (or rather, greasy paper bag).
Even though we might automatically associate "natural" with "healthy," Carl's Jr. said that its "All-Natural" has 760 calories and 44 grams of fat, while the Famous Star with Cheese, though slightly smaller, has 670 calories and 37 grams of fat. But hey, at least you'll know that you're not putting weird, unpronounceable preservatives into your body.
So is it worth the couple extra bucks to know that your burger isn't, well, completely fake? That's up to you. It's probably not time to pat fast-food restaurants on the back for making their menus slightly healthier, but at least this is a step in the right direction.
(h/t USA Today)