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Healthier meals at Midway Airport

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Summer travel usually means unforeseen delays, which often result in airport meals. Those are now a little healthier at Midway Airport.

If you wanted to, you could eat pretty poorly at Midway: matzo balls and fatty corned beef, French fries and pizza -- just to name a few. But now, after several non-governmental organizations decided to work together, the eating options at Midway have improved significantly.

Eating at the airport - especially for the nine million people passing through Midway each year - can be a challenge if you care about your health; fried foods, saturated fats and pizza rule. But at least a half-dozen different organizations have been collaborating over the past year, and recently announced the results of an effort to offer healthier food options.

Ten restaurants at Midway are now deemed "F.I.T. City Establishments," which means they must cook with plant-based oils, and two menu choices - other than salad - have to contain main ingredients like fresh fruits and vegetables.

"When there's pasta or breads, that at least there's some of the options there for whole wheat. That in fact, when they offer a meal, that they offer a salad or they offer a fresh vegetable," said Dr. James Galloway, of Building a Healthier Chicago.

Galloway's organization worked with experts at UIC, as well as the Premier Restaurant Group, which owns and operates the restaurants at Midway, including Tuscany. Healthy choices have their own sticker, and the kid's options are always better, featuring organic milk and one serving of grapes.

"And then we give them a half turkey sandwich, and that turkey has no antibiotics, so it's very healthy for the children and we put that with a side of light dressing in the hopes that they don't use the dressing; that's all on whole grain bread," said Stephen J. Miller of the Premier Restaurant Group.

Participating restaurants are also encouraged to support local, sustainable agriculture by purchasing fresh meat and vegetables from local suppliers.

Midway's healthy options: healthyfareforkids.com maconemidway.com

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