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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Pass the Pork Rinds Baby, It's "The Factor!"

Whenever I visited my family in Tennessee, my Aunt Ola Mae would always introduce me by saying "This is mah niece Jane, mah brother Russell's oldest girl, she's in the moving picture business." Which is to say, it's a different world down there, and I think most of my fellow blue-staters fail to understand just how different.

To say the "health food craze" has not hit the South would be a gross understatement:
Alabama is getting fatter faster.

The state ranked second in America in highest rate of adult obesity -- at 27.7 percent, according to a nationwide report on the country's fattest and leanest states.

Alabama had the largest increase. The obesity rate jumped 1.5 percentage points to 27.7 percent.

The report, "F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America, 2005," calls the roll of the nation's fattest states and spotlights areas in which America's waistline can shape up.

Alabama also ranked second in the country in highest rate of obese and overweight adults combined at 63.5 percent. Mississippi is the fattest state, according to the report. Colorado ranked as the leanest.

More than 25 percent of adults in 10 states are obese: Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana, and South Carolina.
My own theory is that when the South was primarily agrarian and people worked on farms from sun up to sun down, a dinner that included corn on the cob, biscuits and gravy, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese (and all in the same meal, mind you) was somewhat more appropriate. Now that people don't work those kind of day jobs, the diet nonetheless persists -- a typical meal at one of my cousins' houses would include all of the above, along with some mustard greens with bacon fat and maybe a few pork chops. Then of course you've gotta have a Coors so you can spit your ambeer in the empties.

For desert you get to sit around and watch O'Reilly, eat ice cream and question everyone else's patriotism.

I was staying with one of my cousin's during 9/11, and I had made the comment that the dogs were really happy to be there, they liked the big carb and beef leftovers a lot better than the vegetables, tofu and brown rice they were likely to get at home. So one night I was getting ready to cook dinner while my cousin was at work, and I asked her husband Willard what he wanted for dinner.

"Something the dogs'll eat," he said.

Okay well so much for my cooking.

Spending 9/11 in the South was a trip. By noon the TV news stations were calling for the round up of all people of middle eastern descent. I had to watch a lot of Fox News, which went into full-throttle jingoism. Actual phrase uttered by my cousin: "All the news media is biased, but I like to watch Fox News, they're the most fair and balanced."

I would personally like to see a study that explores the correlation between heart attack food and mind-boggling credulity. I think I'm on to something here.