Walking around the fairgrounds at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo all my senses are assaulted; the flashing lights, the booming pounding music, the loud chatter of the crowds, and the smells of fairground food. Fried food, smoked food, barbeque, spun sugar, all swell around me creating an almost hypnotic state.
As I look around at the food choices on offer I am amazed at what I see. Batter-dipped cheeseburgers, fried with a generous topping of powdered sugar. Blooming onions, chicken-fried bacon (you know you’re in the South when you find chicken-fried anything), 2-lb jumbo smoked turkey legs, cheesecake dipped in chocolate. There was even one stand that was offering gator and pork-a-bob (not sure what that is but not sure I want to know either). The beverage choices were similarly calorie-laden, gallons of sweet tea, frozen drinks, and colas, not to mention all of the alcoholic options available.
It was a day of fun, enjoyment and enthusiasm at the Rodeo. Unfortunately it was readily apparent that for large numbers of people at the rodeo a steady diet of saturated fats, over-sugared, over-salted food is the norm. I think of fairground food as something that, while never the best choice, would be a occasional treat (and I did enjoy that cheesecake although I only ate half of it as the serving was overly generous and extremely rich). It is sad to realize that for many people, although they don’t eat fairground food on a regular basis, this style of eating is their daily habit. Rich, fatty, salty, sugary foods that have dulled their palate. That appeal to the childlike habit of comfort foods. As a culture I believe we have come to a point where many of us have lost our taste for whole foods. For healthy, fresh foods that contain the nourishment our body demands.
I’m certainly not trying to be a killjoy and demand that no one ever enjoy these fairground treats. We live in the real world and an occasional indulgence is certainly not unreasonable. What is difficult is when we allow these occasional treats and this unhealthy eating habit to become the norm.
Start now; make it a point to eat whole foods, low processed, fresh and in season. Eat more fruits and vegetables in a rainbow of colors. Reduce the palate-numbing, non-nutritive indulgences to an occasional treat. It’s time to educate yourself and your children about healthy choices, everyone will be better off for it. Remember, eat well to be well.
Chicken-fried bacon photo courtesy of Cara Fealy Choate | Wikimedia Commons