Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It's not called soul food for nothing

This is the only nation on earth where the poor are fat. In other nations, the shriveled poor starve to death. Here, they slowly kill themselves with food.
I'm very concerned that the news that Mississippi is the fattest state will do nothing to discourage the consumption of truly evil foods (pretty much everything that comes frozen, in a box or in a can) but will undermine the culinary culture of the South. Because frankly, the fried chicken and the oxtail and the collard greens and the biscuits and gravy and the shrimp and grits cannot possibly be worse for anybody's health than the overprocessed and cynically cheap and misleading foods poor people buy at their supermarket aisles.
Soul food is fattening, for sure, but it also is nutritious and, even better, it is delicious, thereby making people happy. It is also culturally essential, but people in this country act as if food wasn't culture. They act as if its either oil or ethanol -- just fuel. As long as this is the approach, whereby a thoroughly inedible protein bar is considered more virtuous than fried chicken and waffles, we're doomed to failure. The protein bar is food made in hell, with evil designs in mind disguised as concern for your health. The fried chicken and waffles is heavenly food, it's grandma's food, it's love food, but you just can't be eating it every day. It's a treat.
And if you do eat lots of soul food, well, you do have to get off your fat ass and move around. Alas, life in the US is mostly designed around cars, not sidewalks. The fat don't move enough.
Evil foods are engineered to lie to you. The first taste is always good, but once you finish your supersized combo, you are always left craving more, because it isn't truly satisfying food. It's way overprocessed to really sate you.
The real nourishment from food does not come only through nutrients, it comes through taste and flavor and preparation and freshness.
So I say to my friends in Mississippi: don't stop eating all that good stuff. Don't let anybody tell you that your soul food isn't righteous. Just lay off the junk.

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