Made in America!!!

It’s a few days after Independence Day and I must admit that I am proud to be a flag waiver.  I beam with pride when I meet soldiers or see footage of those who fought for this country over the years.  My favorite bumper sticker is the one that shows a picture of the American flag with the saying, “These Colors Don’t Run”.  My lullabies to my young children were The Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America – no I am not joking.  Yes, I believe that, while not perfect, America is the greatest country on God’s green earth and the good far outweighs the bad.



It has been said that dissent in the highest form of patriotism. With that in mind, I write this article.  You see I recently read an article titled, Born in the USA: 18 Iconic American Foods and I had to write my dissent.  The iconic foods listed were:


Donut Holes

Corn Dogs

Cobb Salad

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chicken Fried Steak

Pecan Pie

Key Lime Pie


Chicken Wings

Macaroni and Cheese

Banana Split

Baked Beans

Tater Tots

Ice Cream Cone

General Tso’s Chicken



Saltwater Taffy

Ruben Sandwich

Potato Chips

Cheese Burger

Frito Pie


It saddens me to say this but the fact is that these types of unhealthy foods ARE what most Americans view as “iconic.”  These foods, along with the food culture in America, are anything but a source of national pride.  It’s troubling – very troubling – not only for us but for the rest of the world.  A couple of points:


  1. Let’s tell it like it is – none of these items should actually be classified as foods.  While some of the main ingredients in these items are OK, when you turn a potato into a potato tot/chip it becomes unfit for regular consumption.  Take a perfectly good bean and cook it with brown sugar, maple syrup and pork fat and you have baked beans – not good.  A Cobb Salad with chicken, cheese and bacon should lose its right to be called a salad!  Frito Pie…what the heck is that?  All of the foods on the list are void of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber.  Making things worse is that they are full of sugar, saturated fats, processed oils, refined grains and salt and have other detrimental qualities.  Certainly not worthy of “iconic” status.
  2. There is tradition associated with some of these foods and that’s OK.  So while I would not recommend eating corn dogs, if you had one the next time you were at a carnival or town fair, OK.  If you are in front of a campfire and want to roast a marshmallow and make a S’mores, I get it.  The problem is that so many of the foods on the list went from being an occasional treat to a regular part of the Standard American Diet (SAD).  That’s THE problem!  Consuming these foods on even the occasional basis has negative consequences but making them a regular part of your food intake is catastrophic.  These types of foods are the main reason for the epidemic levels of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.  You just can’t do it!
  3. Joking about the poor quality of your or your family’s diet may seem harmless on the surface, but those jokes set the expectations for your and your family’s food choices.  It is not funny that, “you can’t remember the last time your child had a vegetable!” or “your kids live on chicken fingers, French fries and grilled cheese.”  Today, 1 in 3 US children and adolescents, ages 2-19, are overweight or obese - triple the rate from just one generation ago.  Obesity is strongly associated with Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, diseases in the past reserved for adults now cropping up in children.  In the US adult population, 2/3 are overweight or obese and incidences of diabetes and heart disease are at catastrophic levels.  That’s just “un-American!”
  4. We are exporting our food choices (and their consequences – chronic disease) to the rest of the world.  Restaurant chains like KFC and Starbucks are popping up in third world and emerging nations.  China for example has 3700 KFC outlets (about ¾ of what he US has) and 1500 Starbuck stores (second only to the number of stores in the US).  Fast food, along with other poor food and beverage choices is largely responsible for the surge in China’s obesity rates.  From 2005 – 2009 obesity rates in China were up nearly 5 times, from 19 million people to 100 million people.  What about third world countries adopting the Standard American Diet.  Not only are they developing the diseases consistent with our diet – like obesity and diabetes – they are often unable to provide the medical care and supplies needed to manage these diseases.  That makes it a double tragedy.

It has been said that “a leader knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”  So as Americans, let’s be leaders – individually and collectively.  Focus your food choices on nutrient dense, plant-based, whole foods…and lots of them.  Focus on eating green, colorful and starchy vegetables; all kinds of fruits; beans and legumes; 100% whole grains; and nuts and seeds (watch any allergies).  Try and have these foods make up most, if not all, of your diet.  Then we will all slim down, get healthy and more importantly, be leading the rest of world by example, like we have with so many issues throughout this country’s great history.  Remember, these colors don’t run!


Stay Well!


Tom Dunnam

July, 2015