I read a disturbing article in the New York Times a couple weeks ago. The article is titled, “Told to Eat Its Vegetables, America Orders Fries” and focuses on the problem of our reluctance to embrace vegetables as a staple in our diets. Reading the title made me think back to my lunch a couple of weeks ago. I was trying to order take-out lunch from my local Indian restaurant. I asked the man at the restaurant if they have any lunches that have both chicken AND vegetables (most dishes have one or the other) and he pointed me toward a dish that has chicken with potatoes. I thought about trying to explain to him that potatoes aren’t vegetables, but decided to save my breath. I just told him to add some veggies to my chicken dish and charge me extra if he had to.
The problem isn’t that we confuse potatoes with veggies. The problem is that we don’t actively make veggies a part of our meals on a daily basis. In this article, the author cites a recent Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study about fruit and vegetable consumption in America. The study reports that only 26 percent of adult’s eat veggies three or more times per day and that only 23 percent of our meals contain any vegetable whatsoever. These percentages are alarmingly, although not surprisingly, low. What’s just as bad is that we’re not eating any more vegetables than we were a decade ago. I thought that we were becoming smarter and better educated about healthy eating, but it looks like I’m wrong.
The author cites another study, this one titled “Eating Patterns in America”, compiled by a market research company called NPD Group. The chief analyst for NPD, Harry Balzer is nothing but negative about the veggie vacancy in our diets. He says that there’s nothing we can say that will get people to eat more veggies. He also posits that eating vegetables is too inconvenient. What we want in our busy lives is low cost and convenience. Vegetables, he explains, are something you have to schedule your life around preparing.
I don’t think Harry could be more wrong. One thing that differentiates humans from other animals is our ability to improve ourselves and our surroundings. We can absolutely “improve” ourselves and develop a larger appetite for veggies. I say it all the time – it comes down to education. Harry’s right, veggies do take a little longer to procure and prepare than, say, fast food. But we can learn to cook veggies, we can clear an extra five minutes out of our schedules to cook them ourselves. We have to make our health a priority. We have to think about our health in the larger picture. We can’t just live day-to-day eating the foods that are quick, easy, and inexpensive. We will pay the price down the road. It’s not a question of IF, it’s WHEN.
We have to take responsibility for our health today. To that end, below is one of my favorite easy vegetable preparations that anyone can make today. Not only is it healthy; it’s delicious…
Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan and Garlic
Ingredients: fresh broccoli shaved or grated parmesan or pecorino cheese, fresh garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper.
Preparation: chop the stems from the florets and discard stems. Rinse the florets under cold running water, pat dry with a paper towel, and place in a mixing bowl. Pour in some freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese, freshly chopped or sliced garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper. Mix all of the ingredients together.
Cooking: Place a piece of aluminum foil on your grill and dump your ingredients on the foil. Cook on medium high heat for about 15 minutes, tossing the broccoli a couple times during cooking.
I know you’ve never tried broccoli on the grill before. Trust me, you’ll be addicted!