The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

October 22, 2011

Let’s celebrate Food Day, minus the ‘healthy’ part

ENID — Are you ready?

Is all your shopping and wrapping done? Are all your cards written? Have you practiced your holiday carols? Are all your decorations up?

Christmas? Heck, that’s two months away. And Halloween’s still a week off. No, I’m referring to the next major holiday on the calendar: Food Day.

Food. F-o-o-d.

Food Day is a national grassroots campaign sponsored by the Center For Science in the Public Interest.

This year’s honorary co-chairs are Sen. Tom Harkin and Rep. Rosa DeLauro. Of course, not only are these people members of Congress, they are democrats, so they will be lucky if people don’t throw food at them — rotten vegetables and such.

Food Day is supposed to encourage Americans to “eat real” and support healthy, affordable food grown in a sustainable, humane way.

The folks who organized Food Day have some admirable goals. The six Food Day founding principles are: Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods; support sustainable farms and limit subsidies to big agribusiness; expand access to food and alleviate hunger; protect the environment and animals by reforming factory farms; promote health by cutting junk-food marketing to kids; and support fair conditions for food and farm workers.

All are laudable, to be sure. The only one I have a problem with is the bit about healthy foods.

When I hear the words “healthy foods,” my stomach flips. The phrase conjures up memories of Euell Gibbons.

Those of a certain age will remember Gibbons. He was the naturalist who wrote books about natural foods in the 1960s and early 1970s, with titles like “Stalking the Wild Asparagus.” He came to the attention of most Americans when he starred in a series of television commercials for Post Grape Nuts cereal, in which he touted natural foods like cattails and wild hickory nuts. In one Grape Nuts commercial, Gibbons famously said “Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible.” I wonder if he got sap stuck in his teeth? I’m guessing he didn’t get many takers if he was hosting a dinner party.

Gibbons, incidentally, died in 1975 at the age of 64. The temptation is to blame his somewhat off-beat diet, but actually, he died of Marfan syndrome, a hereditary condition affecting the heart.

I love food. OK, maybe love is too strong a word. I really, really, really, really, really, really (with a few more reallys thrown in) like food.

Healthy food? Not so much.

Why is it all the stuff that tastes so darn good, like burgers, bacon, pizza, pasta, steak, fried chicken, omelets, pie, cake, cookies, ice cream, potato chips, baked beans, chili, chocolate, hot dogs, french fries and doughnuts, are so bad for you? And most healthy food tastes like pine sap.

Not that I won’t eat anything healthy, mind you. I do like healthy stuff, like green beans, broccoli, asparagus, peas, corn, fresh spinach and carrots. I like tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, okra, avocado and eggplant, but those technically are fruits, although most people consider them veggies.

And I love fruits like apples, cherries, watermelon, blueberries, pears, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, grapes, bananas, oranges, limes and lemons, to mention a few.

I try to be good, I really do. I eat cereal with skim milk and a sliced banana for breakfast, sprinkled with artificial sweetener. For lunch I eat yogurt. For supper, my bride cooks good, healthy food.

But I have the willpower of a jewel thief who finds himself locked in Tiffany’s. If you can fry it, serve it on a cone, put gravy on it or cover it with alfredo sauce, I want some.

Given my age and my family history of heart disease, I really should be out in the woods chewing on pine bark in memory of old Euell. But what fun would that be?

So on this Food Day, indulge in a guilty culinary pleasure, like a big old chicken fried steak with cream gravy, a greasy burger with fried onions or a big plate of pasta and sauce with a side of garlic bread.

Live a little.

In preparation for Food Day, join me in some holiday songs. Like “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Pound Cake,” “I Saw Mommy Drinking Pasta Sauce,” “I Saw 3 Chips,” “Happy Hollandaise,” “The Little Drumstick Boy,” and my personal favorite, “Ding Dongs Merrily on High.”

And I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight, Happy Food Day to all, are you going to eat that last bite?

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.

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