Dietribes / Flavour of the Week

Food Fight! Poutine vs. Cheeseburger


Food Fight logoThis week includes the national holiday’s of both Canada and the United States. Canada Day/Fête du Canada is the national day of Canada, celebrating the Constitution Act enacted on July 1, 1867. Independence Day in the US, also know as Liberty Day or Fourth of July, commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

With national celebratory holidays so close together, we couldn’t resist… Which lauded national dish will take this Food Fight? The all-American cheeseburger or classic Canadian comfort food, poutine?

Quick history review. Canada Day was originally called Dominion Day and marked the joining together of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (then British North American colonies) and the Province of Canada, which included parts of now Ontario and Quebec (Dominion Day was renamed Canada Day in 1982 after the Canada Act passed, effectively making Canada a sovereign nation). What about the other 80% of the country? It was a looooong process:

  • Manitoba. Northwest Territories- 1870
  • British Columbia – 1871
  • Prince Edward Island – 1873
  • Yukon – 1898
  • Saskatchewan, Alberta – 1905
  • Newfoundland – 1949 (“& Labrador” wasn’t added until 2001)
  • Nunavut – 1999

While the United States may have nearly 100 years on us Canucks, the original United States only had 13 states, including Delaware where I live. The last states to join were Alaska and Hawaii in 1959.

flag - canadaPoutine
(233 g)
  VS* flag - usCheeseburger
(233 g)
Quebec, 1957 Origin Connecticut, 1900
522 kcal Calories 480 kcal
35.4 g Total Fat 24.1 g
13.9 g Saturated Fat 9.1 g
17.4 g Protein 27.0 g
35.3 g Carbohydrate 39.2 g
2.7 g Fibre/Fiber 3.3 g
1,450 mg Sodium 897 mg
16 mg Vitamin C 4 mg
638 mg Potassium 489 mg

No Baloney’s results? Resplendent in it’s saturated fat and sodium glory, poutine is the clear health-LOSER on this one. With 60% more sodium and 53% more saturated fat, no measly amount of potassium and vitamin C would put poutine ahead of the classic cheeseburger. Not surprising given poutine is just three ingredients – fries, gravy and cheese curds, none of which are exactly bastions of health. What poutine lacks in nutrient density, it makes up for in taste and popularity. In Thrillist’s Power Rank “The world’s best national dish: which country’s meal is tops?” poutine was named as the #1 national dish because “simplicity is its biggest asset”.

Not that the cheeseburger is THAT much better with 9 grams of saturated fat and nearly 1,000 mg of sodium. But at least burgers can be made healthier with lean protein, whole wheat buns and lots of veggies. How can you make poutine healthier? We’re of two minds on this one – on the one hand, it’s a national treasure! Just leave it alone and enjoy with mindful awareness. Or try to make slightly healthier… we made a riff at home with baked poutine potato skins but, admittedly, it just wasn’t the same.

*Nutrition information… POUTINE from the Canadian Nutrient File: “poutine, 250ml = 165.0 g” because OF COURSE poutine is an entry in the CNF! CHEESEBURGER from the USDA Nutrient National Nutrient Database: “cheeseburger; single, large patty with condiments and vegetables”
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