By Guest Wine Dude Allan D. Kissam
I fall right in with the majority of Americans and I realize that fact is killing me. I gained approximately ten pounds per decade since age 30, as is typical of Americans according to The New England Journal of Medicine researchers. Habits are hard to change and perhaps the most difficult to change is a lifelong habit of comfort eating.
Melissa’s World Variety Produce in Los Angeles offered a writer’s group education sessions on increasing fruits and vegetables in American diets. They introduced several new books; The Vegetarian Flavor Bible by Karen Page, and A Small Guide to Losing Big by Cheryl Forberg, R.D.
Melissa’s own series of books on produce, fruits, and special recipes provide a bedrock for the works by authors Page and Forberg. Karen Page explains flavor pairing in eating as a vegetarian, while Cheryl Forberg is the nutritionist for NBC’s The Biggest Loser.
Melissa’s Produce is a certified organic packing facility in the heart of Los Angeles County. The company is currently the largest distributor of specialty produce in the United States. Their unique fresh fruits and vegetables is available in retail market produce or online at an Amazon store.
In the Melissa kitchens their on-staff chefs prepared tasty dishes and made wonderful salads. The dishes showed how taste and satisfaction are maintained in foods not normally a large part of American diets. Still, for people to change to healthier foods it helps to first understand why eating large is the norm.
Facts about American’s diet since World War II
The 1940’s and World War II was a turning point for America in many respects. American participation, first with material and later manpower, was the deciding factor in the victory of World War II that started in 1939. The USA emerged from this event as a superpower – wealthy and dominant.
The Baby Boomers born after the war, today beginning retirement, enjoyed an improved diet and greater wealth than previous generations. The era is typified by the fact that the weight of the U.S. soldier increased from 155 pounds in 1946 to over 178 pounds today. In comparison, the U.S. soldier weighed 141 pounds in the Civil War during 1864 and 144 pounds in World War I during 1919.
Factors such as disease prevention influence these numbers, but today all the armed forces are struggling with weight control problems of service members. Many new recruits cannot meet the armed forces minimum physical standards. One measure of the trend is that the U.S. population put on four pounds (both men and women) just between 1994 and 2004 (New York Times).
On the web in Google can be found the Eleven Dietary Ages of Man, widely attributed to The Maryland Bulletin, Feb. 1940 (an unverified attribution, admittedly). The important part is that Dietary Ages progress from milk as a baby, through adult dining, and back to milk toast in old age. In between the end points is Step – 8. Pate de fois gras, Weiner Schnitzel, potatoes … Roquefort cheese. This step approximates where Baby Boomers are at now.
When the Dietary Ages was published in 1940, the expected lifespan was only about 54 years for men and 61 years for women. Considering this fact, it can be noted there is not much in the dietary ages about eating fruit and vegetables.
Also in 1940 was the wartime rationing plan imposed by the British government when locked in a life or death struggle. The island nation imported a large percentage of its food and was dependent on the Atlantic supply line from the USA.
The ration plan had eight ounces of sugar per week for an adult and today we may consume this much baked into our breakfast. So, because everyone consumed as allowed or they went hungry, the population’s health improved during the rationing period. The observation period measuring health lasted through 1954. Nearly ten years past the end of World War II, 1939 – 1945. The British love of gardening helped win the war because people grew much of their own supply of fruits and vegetables.
As for this Baby Boomer, I am logging daily meals on my smartphone app and changing food types thanks to Melissa’s Produce. Also, the bicycle is coming out for daily rides of at least 20 minutes.
In summary, it all comes down to three components; recognize and change habits, consume less calories but change to satisfying alternatives, and exercise to reap the benefits of weight loss.
The following recipe is from Melissa’s website and one should notice some are marked DD, and this means *DD = “Decadent Delight.” Falling off the wagon is normal and climbing back up is easier if sticking with DD treats because at least most of it is healthy produce.
Mushroom and Barley Stew
by Chef Tom Fraker