My across the street neighbor brought up the topic of junk food, because he’s aware that I like to investigate odd topics. Eddie wondered how I was planning to celebrate National Junk Food Day. I replied that I didn’t know there was such a holiday, but I wasn’t too surprised to discover such a thing. Eddie laughed, “It was probably started by the great candy and potato chip conglomeration.”
I walked back home, needing to look into this alleged holiday. First, I wanted to pour a bowl of tortilla chips and grab my guacamole dip.
I discovered that there are at least 175 different “special days” devoted to some foodstuff or another. I’ve mentioned some already, like Rocky Road Day and Barbecue Day. Most of them have mysterious beginings. The same rule holds true for National Junk Food Day. I have a suspicion that a consortium of fast-food franchisers and snack-food manufacturers are behind this one. If not, I’m sure they don’t discourage any celebrating of National Junk Food Day.
Regarding the name, “junk food”, I did find out that the term was popularized in the 1960s by highbrow types who pooh-poohed surgary and salty snack items. The popularization of the term began in 1976 with the release of the novelty song, “Junk Food Junkie” by Larry Groce.
Today is an excuse for dieters to let down their guard for one day. I won’t go so far as to say, “Throw caution to the wind.” I will share how I plan to celebrate. Because I’m currently monitoring what I eat and I’m careful with my budget. My purchases will be framed by these constraints. I’ll be sticking to salty snacks that at least have some nutritional value. That’s how my brain works. I’m thinking of a bag of Doritos or similar chips, not the best, but not the worst, either.
The indulgent part will be the layered Mexican Dip. I spice up the contents of a can of vegetarian refried beans with chili powder then spread that onto the bottom of a pie plate or similar container. I then sprinkle chopped scallions (green onions) over the bean mixture. Then I spread a thick layer of guacamole (prefab for Junk Food Day). On top of that I sprinkle a layer of chopped tomatoes, bell and jalapeno peppers. The last layer is a garnish of shredded taco cheese.
If you’re in a hurry, a cup of hummus served with pita chips makes a fairly healthy, tasty snack. Or you might opt for one of the many varieties of salsa to eat with chips or tacos.
I suppose most folks aren’t going to worry about healthier junk food today, or anytime. But it is worth noting that Americans are the largest consumers of junk food on Earth, literally. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that over 35% of adult Americans qualify as obese. More troublesome, obesity now affects more than 17% of American children and adolescents, triple the ratio of the previous generation. One Gallup Poll stated that overweight and obesity are the largest health worries in the US.
We also might consider how the American weight problem is being used by other countries to put down the United States. Russian leader, Vladimir Putin once quipped, “Americans with excess weight and obesity allow themselves to eat as many junk food products as they like”. Keep those kind of international opinions in mind as you purchase today’s junk food items.
Anyhow, I don’t need to suggest ways that we can celebrate National Junk Food Day. In many cases, we don’t need to change a single thing. For too many of us, every day is junk food day. We can start the day with a breakfast of sugary, cold cereal soaked in chocolate milk. Enjoy a donut or two with our sweet latte at coffee break. Chow down some fast-food for lunch. Indulge in sweet and salty snacks throughout the afternoon. There might be something rich and greasy for dinner, topped off with an indulgent dessert. Then, before bedtime, a dish of ice cream.
How is it that treats, once considered as special, became our regular fare? I’ll posit that when we started to reward ourselves all day long, for no special reasons, our nation’s weight problems began.
However, today, we don’t need to think about the problem of overindulgence. Today is the day we break out the questionable food and munch away. Tomorrow is another day.
I wonder how many contrarians will celebrate National Junk Food Day, by eating totally healthful, balanced meals, today.