Panera Nutrition

by Lisa Rosen on April 8, 2011

Day before yesterday I went out to lunch with my mother.  Usually when we go to lunch, just the two of us, we try to go somewhere a little unusual (she kind of has my attitude about eating out–she’d just as soon try something interesting that she can’t get at home)–the Turkish place downtown, or a French bakery or Indian buffet.  Like me, she doesn’t eat much meat, but beyond that caveat, we both like to try new things.

But–on Wednesday, we were both on schedules and needing to get things done.  Lunch was a good chance to catch up, but neither of us had time for an adventure.

So we went to Panera, mainly because it’s close to my house, and it’s quick and easy.

I hadn’t been in ages, and I made a fantastic discovery:  the menu board now has calorie counts for every item!

Panera has always been a little ahead of the curve on nutrition information–I’ve relied on their website for years, and before that, they had these huge notebooks behind the counter that you could peruse if you asked.  But putting the calorie count on the menu, right there where we can see it as we order–this is huge progress.  Are you really going to eat that whole bagel and cream cheese if you KNOW it’s a full third of the calories you need in a day?

I realize lots of people will ignore the information, or not understand how to interpret it, but hopefully at least some of us will use it to make intelligent choices.  I know I did–I had my usual cup of black bean soup, but instead of accompanying it with a wedge of Asiago focaccia, I chose a (really tasty) green salad with a bit of grilled chicken.

Now if fast food joints would put this kind of information on their drive-thru menus, we might be able to get a handle on the obesity problem that’s killing us.

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