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Dear Panera, Just Make The Bagels and Let “Clean Eating” Die

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My dearest bagel makers,

I don’t need your weird marketing ploy to love you. You’re a bakery for Christ’s sake, your recipes involve things like cream cheese and frosting, your appeal is already solidified for me. But here we are, with another “clean eating” ad.

See, you could have chosen to run ads that talk about “no preservatives” or “fresh food”, and I would have looked the other way. I would have thought “I don’t give a shit as long as it doesn’t fuck up my everything bagel”, and went on about my business. But instead I, a loyal Panera customer, was forced to take a whole 30 seconds out of my day to account for the massive eyeroll I had to give your “clean eating” ad. Those were a precious 30 seconds, and I would like them back.

Why, you may ask yourself, is this self righteous fat girl so mad at your clean eating ad? Well, I will tell you. First of all, clean eating isn’t a thing. It’s a buzzword used to trick people into thinking that they are somehow doing something magically healthy for their bodies. There is no rule or guide book for “clean” eating, therefore you get to make the rules up as you go. You created a list of things that are “no-no’s” in your food to get everyone’s attention but the truth is, those things generally aren’t in restaurants who’s main courses are salad or soup because most restaurants serve fairly fresh food! So congratulations, you are now meeting the bare minimum like every other diner salad spot in America.

Second, and most important (to me), is that you recognize that there is nothing “clean” or “dirty” about food. And your attempt at making this whole “clean eating” thing cool is actually super bad for people’s perceptions of what constitutes wellness. Promoting certain foods as “clean” creates a dynamic where we are judging (and shaming) certain things that people consume. This is a problem for several reasons but namely, when we create this dichotomous thinking about food we become fixated on doing/eating “good”. This is especially a problem in young people, who are learning how to listen to their bodies and trust their instincts about how and what to eat. When you label foods “unclean” or “bad” it creates an alarmist effect that makes people swear off certain things in their diet without truly knowing the repreccussions physically and emotionally of that restriction. Food is not to be feared, and using that fear to drive sales is morally reprehensible.

In addition, you alienate a large population of people that regularly buy, prepare, and eat “unclean” meals for circumstances beyond their control. Preservatives are not evil, especially not to a family who is trying their best to feed their kiddos without going broke. Aspartame is essential in a lot of diabetics diets, as their consumption of sugar could be compromising to their health. Lard (on your no-no list) is one of the oldest forms of cooking oils, is sustainable, and has less saturated fat than butter!

By the looks of your facebook page, it seems that you might want to focus on clean cooking before taking on this big “clean” eating venture, anyway…

Until then, leave me and my dirty food off your no-no list and keep your weird diet culture food-shaming to yourself.

With love and adoration for them cinnamon crunch bagels,


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Tuesday 28th of April 2020

Your writing is on point here (and frankly, everywhere). I love how you stick it to 'em but still give them credit for their yummy food. Like tough love. Well done!


Thursday 23rd of March 2017

Giving adoration where adoration belongs (cinnamon crunch bagels) and giving sassy to that which is bs. <3


Thursday 16th of February 2017

I love the part at the end of this article where you challenge them with saying perservatives aren't bad to those financially struggling to feed their families. Seriously awesome point! I genuinely was saying amen to myself as I was reading this letter haha

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