Published on August 2nd, 2011 | by Shannon Soesbe1
All the Free Food You Can Eat at Google — But is It Healthy?
Google is more than just the default search engine on so many of our computers. It is also a massive company well-known for providing its employees with perks that employees at other corporations can only imagine. Depending on which Google office you call home, you can benefit from things like car wash services, massage rooms, and even an on-site doctor.
It’s All about the Snacks
One particularly famous benefit of working for Google is 24/7 access to free meals and snacks. But is that really a healthy eating environment? Recognizing the potential for workers (particularly those new to this unusually generous corporate culture ) to stuff themselves silly, Google tries to guide their employees to make good choices using clear labeling and meal recommendations. They are also serious about using organic, sustainable, and seasonal produce whenever possible, in addition to hormone- and antibiotic-free chicken and premium meats.
According to Marion Nestle, who recently visited Google’s corporate headquarters in California, there is a system in place that gives employees a quick-glance way of checking nutritional content. ”Google labels its snacks, drinks, and the foods prepared in its 25 or so cafeterias with traffic lights: green (eat anytime), yellow (once in a while), or red (not often, please). It bases the decisions about which food goes where on the Harvard School of Public Health’s healthy eating pyramid.”
Google also uses a variety of subtle tactics designed to give workers a push in the right direction. Small plates in the cafeteria, vegetables in most foods, and putting the healthiest options at eye-level all work together to hopefully keep employees healthy and help them avoid over-indulging.
Still, it’s not a perfect system, as there are snack rooms with sweets, nuts, and chips as readily available as fruit and veggies. These are also color-coded for nutritional reference, but it doesn’t take a chart to tell you that the M&Ms you’re craving aren’t your healthiest option.
At the end of the day, Google provides its employees with an outstanding array of healthy food (among comfort foods that are certainly red lights), and then empowers them to make good choices about what they put in their bodies. Not every company is both forward-thinking and financially blessed to the extent that they can create and fund such a program. It’s very encouraging to see Google quite literally putting its money where its mouth is.
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