Junk food: Live long and prosper

Published 5:59 pm Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Don’t you just hate the guilt trip when it comes to munching on those nutritious, but death-defying, junk food items?

While I do believe strongly in eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts – with a meat for every meal – I also believe enlightenment comes from the consumption of snack foods.

I won’t go so far as to dispute the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Pyramid, but I have some additions that may not add up if you compare it with the government’s and the medical profession’s dietary guidelines.

I have devised my own Snack Food groupings, roughly based on USDA’s Five Food Groups – you know, that pyramid thing the government shamelessly forces upon elementary school children.

The tip of the pyramid is the important part, so you should eat as much from the Fats, Oils and Sweets group as possible. Sure, they say this is the stuff that causes heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, cancer and just about every other ill ever visited upon the human body, but there’s something the statistics don’t show.

It’s only in the past 100 years that snack foods could be produced in the massive quantities needed so that everybody could get at them. Aristocrats of old have had snack foods for centuries, and the their life expectancies were significantly longer than the serfs and other poor folk who couldn’t afford snack foods.

Since the mass production of snack foods began at the end of the 19th Century, the life expectancy has increased by about 30 years and is getting longer every year.

I, therefore, present the following hypothesis: Junk Food is not only fun to eat, it’s good for you!

For that reason, not because I’m a junk food junky, I make sure that the Bryant Household is always well stocked with junk from all four of the Junk Food Groups.

According to the Bryant Junk Food Quadrangle (which is not an occult symbol, but is simply a big rectangular slab cut into six equal chunks) you should eat every day from each the six Junk Food Groups. There are no maximums or minimums in this food grouping system – eat what you want, as much or as little as you want, just as long as you eat at least on thing from each group.

Without further ado, here are the groupings:

The Cookie Group. Eat one cookie or eat a bag, it’s up to you, but be sure to have a cookie a day. This grouping is probably self-explanatory, but items in the cookie group include such items as chocolate chip, oatmeal, sugar, sandwich (Oreo, for example), macadamia, shortbread, molasses, and all the infinite varieties of cookies that are on the market or that you can make yourself.

The Cake Group. Eat a small bite or eat a wedding cake, it’s your option, but be sure to have a little bit of cake each day. The Cake Group is a bit more complex than the Cookie Group. Obviously, a big ol’ coconut cake is in this group, but what about Ding-Dongs and Ho-Hos (cakes, of course). Don’t fret too much if you’re not sure if something should be classified cake or cookie – just eat it up and ponder it afterwards.

The Candy Group. Again, self-explanatory. Personally, I think to be legitimate there must be chocolate in it, but that’s just a personal taste. If you like non-chocolate hard candies, you meet the criteria if you eat at least one a day. By the way, if you eat a chocolate chip cookie, you cannot say that you’ve eaten from both the cookie and candy food groups. Conversely, however, if you eat a shortbread cookie and a couple of chocolate kisses, you have eaten from both food groups. Nobody ever said there weren’t contradictions in life.

The Cracker Group. An easy category, including such things as saltines, cheese crackers, wheat crackers, oyster crackers, etc. Whatever topping you like only adds to the pleasure.

The Chip Group. Salty things that aren’t crackers are usually in the chip group – potato, corn, tortilla, etc., they’re all good ‘n greasy.

The Milk Group. Oddly enough, a glass of milk doesn’t count. About the only acceptable items I can think of right now are ice creams and cheeses. Be sure to eat plenty from this group. Cheese on the crackers is an excellent way to eat two food groups at the same time, but cheese crackers (Cheese It, for example) do not count as two food groups.

My household is always stocked with items from all six Junk Food groups, usually including several items from each group. One day you want potato chips, the next day you might want corn chips. One day you might like Hershey bars, the next Butterfingers. You have to be prepared to meet you junk food cravings.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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