Unsweetened Iced Tea — Influencing the Food Industry

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Unsweetened iced tea or hot green or black tea are great choices if you find yourself at a fast food restaurant.

I contact food companies via email regularly requesting that they carry healthy choices or source non-GMO ingredients for a particular item. I also communicate with local food franchises via their employees and corporate email about the same things. It is what used to be called letter-writing, and it is meant to effect change over time.

I don’t drink soft drinks. They are full of chemicals, artificial sweeteners/corn syrup, neurotoxins, and so on. I avoid them and do not drink them, EVER (I make my own using water kefir grains). So on the rare occasion that I find myself wanting something to drink with a stimulant in it I choose tea. Not the flavored koolaid-type Nestea sort of tea drink (which is just chemicals, artificial flavors and colors along with artificial sweeteners/corn syrup), but brewed tea. I request unsweetened iced tea mostly (it is that Texas connection, I guess). Black tea is a far superior choice to any soft drink every single time.

The problem? Fast food restaurants only offered brewed iced tea in the warm months. For two years, I wrote emails and personally asked fast food restaurants in the towns I frequent to carry brewed iced tea in the cold months.

To my delight, this year, when it got cold, I was able to continue to purchase unsweetened iced tea at fast food restaurants in Connecticut. It is literally, aside from water (which, if bottled, is not a good choice), the only healthy choice of drink on a fast food restaurant’s menu. It won’t mess with a person’s blood sugar, is full of antioxidants, and is truly refreshing. The caffeine in iced tea is a great choice if you need a little zing, too. If you want it sweetened, carry packets of real cane sugar or stevia. Easy peasy. I would not order sweet tea — I haven’t investigated yet, but most sugar in fast food restaurants is GMO beet sugar, not cane sugar. So it is cold outside and you want something hot.

Yesterday, I stopped by one of the Dunkin’ Donuts on my way to class because I was so foggy-headed I couldn’t think. I needed a stimulant, fast! My first and best choice is green tea, which I am thrilled DD carries. It is difficult for them to mess up an order of green tea with nothing in it, so I am never disappointed. It is literally a green tea bag dropped into hot water in a cup. So yes, I visit the very places I despise on rare occasions. But I always try to leave a message when I visit: praise them for carrying healthy choices and/or ask them to carry healthy choices sourcing non-GMO ingredients.

Do not ever doubt the influence one person can have on an industry or situation or issue. Each of us can effect change.

P.S. I must mention that McDonald’s charges $0.30 extra if you order brewed iced tea with a combo meal. I am guessing that McDonald’s and the Coca Cola corporation are trying to discourage the drinking of brewed iced tea since it doesn’t make them any real money (Fast Food is in bed with Big Food, folks — the CEOs of one are on the boards of the others). I sure have written emails about this penalty for a healthy choice to corporate headquarters. I check occasionally on the status of that practice and carry a glass bottle of water with me (you can purchase glass water containers in most stores now and carry your own water with you wherever you go).

For more information here are a couple of interesting articles:

Sweet Tea vs. Soda Pop from Livestrong.com – pretty much what I concluded. Order unsweetened iced tea.

Can Hot Coffee or Tea Cut MRSA Risk? from WebMD – this is a fascinating little tidbit. So choosing hot tea during the cold months is an even better choice than unsweetened iced tea.

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