All eyes this weekend seem to be on the Monaco royal wedding and Prince William and Catherine‘s royal tour kickoff in Canada, but the fourth of July is nearly here, so we’d like to turn some attention back to the U.S. for a moment. (How very patriotic of me, I know.) We don’t have royalty to worship, but (aside from Hollywood celebs) one thing we do pledge our allegiance to is food. Brand-name food. It’s no secret that the standard American diet is heavily based on crap, but a recent slideshow over at Bon Appetit’s blog was a cold reality check that, by and large, we’re way too wedded to processed foods and popular name brands.
I’ll admit that I indulge in processed food from time to time — it’s hard not to, when you’re busy, working, and can’t always stay on top of planning your meals ahead. (And I hate to be a total buzzkill, but even though a protein bar might be healthier than a bag of Lay’s Potato Chips, it’s still not the same as eating fresh, whole foods that we’ve prepared at home. If it comes in a package and can sit on your shelf for more than a few days, it still counts as processed, even if it’s organic, sugar-free, and full of “greens.”)
I’m also not immune to advertising, either. As much as I’d like to say that I don’t pay attention to labels, I tend to pick my favorite brands (even if they’re not General Mills or Lays) and stick by ones I know I like. How else will I know my dinner’s going to turn out how it should?!
So I’m not condemning anyone who succumbs to Heinz Ketchup and Oreos; I don’t think anyone should be made to feel stupid or despicable because of the foods they choose to eat. But I do think it’s unfortunate that, despite so much science and information that says we’re digging ourselves an early grave with the highly-processed diets we eat, we continue to flock to the store to stock up on this stuff — all the time.
We’ve been encouraging you to try healthy recipes for the fourth of July — and all year round, for that matter — but I know you’ll likely have a table full of potato chips and hot dogs, too. Enjoy them; I don’t want you to feel guilty about them or count the calories post-picnic and plan an insane week of workouts to burn it all off; but I do hope that more people will bring along a healthy salad, some carrot sticks, or just a little bit of fresh fruit, because this Independence Day, I can’t think of anything more patriotic than taking care of your health.