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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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August 13, 2007

Southern Fried Myth

By Worker Bee
18 Comments

Southern foodSouthern food: comfort, soul, and…grease.

Southern cuisine is famous for being both delicious and, well, fried. From ATL to Austin, BBQ competitions are hot, fried chicken is like mother’s milk, and the deep-fried Coke pours shamelessly in all its trans fatty glory (and this at a time when other regions are making trans fat illegal). Southern states have the highest rates of obesity, and Mobile isn’t exactly known for its sushi. To be blunt, Southern food takes the cake – and pours extra chocolate sauce all over it.

Southern food

But are we giving southern foods a fair shake? Aren’t we being a little hard on the South? After all, New York is known for its hot dogs and Chicago its deep-dish pizza, and Detroit’s not winning any nutritional awards (they don’t even have real grocery stores). Is a regional food war of words (and diet books) just an Oprah episode away?

Enter the South Eats Diet (Sonoma and the Hamptons will be sooo jealous). The South Eats Diet focuses on loads of fresh veggies – and we’re not talking french fries or breaded okra. Spice and flavor are the key ingredients, along with fish, shrimp and other Cajun and Caribbean influences. The South Eats Diet does encourage the consumption of whole grains and legumes, but I think we can agree that’s a big step up from grits and Southern iced tea! Proponents say that many traditionally southern foods – seafood, okra, sturdy greens, sweet potatoes and peppers – are very nutritious and waistline-friendly. We happen to agree. What are your thoughts?

Further Reading:

A Smart Carb Pyramid

What Mark Eats in a Day

Our Trip to the Middle Aisles of the Grocery Store

What Does 4,000 Calories a Day Look Like?

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18 Comments on "Southern Fried Myth"

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Cindy Moore
9 years 1 month ago

Hi Mark!! I’m doing a little blog tag and you’ve been tagged! Here’s a link to my blog for details: http://tinyurl.com/2qk7wf

terry
terry
9 years 1 month ago

I think the south gets a bad rap because they celebrate the fact that their foods are in large part (no pun intended) unhealthy. In celebrating a disrespect for your own health, it became somehow anathema to care in many ways. I think that this sort of thinking is to often reflected in other areas as well. With all the disinformation about the global warming fact, it became cool to shrug it off as that crazy hippies imagination or some darn thing. Unfortunately it is not, and neither is southern obesity.

Sara
9 years 1 month ago

Terry, interesting perspective. Sort of a “fat and happy” attitude, maybe?

terry
terry
9 years 1 month ago

I don’t know if it is a fat and happy thing. However
I think it is apart of southern tradition, or “challenge” to eat as much as you can. In other words they are a product of their environment. It may be more tradition than anything.

JeffT
JeffT
9 years 1 month ago
Hmm, coming off a week in North Carolina (albeit on the outer banks, not inland) I ate plenty of fresh, unfried seafood. NC BBQ is vinegar based and I don’t believe it to be particularly unhealthy. I guess I feel I don’t want BBQ to be a bad word. However, I did notice that further inland the cut of jeans was quite a bit different than what I’m used to seeing the SF Bay Area. I did notice that there doesn’t seem to be much to do than go to church or eat. Could that be part of the problem?… Read more »
terry
terry
9 years 1 month ago

Jeff,
Excellent point friend. I do think that boredom is a major catalyst to obesity. It seems to be a compounding problem also. I think television is a major source of laziness feeding a habit. Just like how professional drivers tend to smoke cigarettes. It is simply a tool to be used to pass the time

Mort
Mort
9 years 1 month ago

Terry, whoa, this is what’s wrong with the world. Assuming that southern people are generally bored, and thus fat, is a broad, gross generalization. It’s a stereotype. Assigning arbitrary reasons to why people are the way they are is the beginning of prejudice.

People eat to pass the time, but they also eat to celebrate, they eat when they get together as a community, and they do take pride in the quality of food, not just the quantity.

terry
terry
9 years 1 month ago

Mort:
Scathing as this underdeveloped argument is, I shall try to deconstruct your thoughts like a Dr. of nuclear magic would piece together a clothes pin to a hanger. You act as if you have just uncovered a major cabal the likes that which this world or any other world for that matter has ever seen. I am not generalizing, but going off of the personal experiences, I am sure you have had very few in your narrow existence. In new addition, I was also giving one example of the many things that factor into obesity.

Sara
9 years 1 month ago

Tone it down, guys. Debate is great but personal attacks are off limits.

KLC
9 years 1 month ago
Food is a religion here, but like the rest of the country, doubling and tripling portion sizes has hurt the South too. I know my mother and I argue about it. All she can say is “that’s not enough food to live on” and won’t even try to cut back. Though around here in Louisiana, foods are typically fried in peanut oil, and the health-conscious will go with canola. When New York started banning restaurant trans fats, the local spin out of New Orleans is the restaurants there never switched to trans fats cooking. I was a disappointed it was… Read more »
Mark
9 years 1 month ago

KLC, great idea – let’s start a healthy Southern recipes meme in the forum. Going to do that now…

BamaGal
9 years 1 month ago
As you can tell by my name–I’m a southern gal—yeah we do have a lot of obesity—yeah we do love our food—there’s food for everything—here in the south it is called hospitality—we care about our friends and neighbors—-we socialize—with alot of food— I resent sterotypes of any sort—we are not bored—there are plenty of things to do—we have our cultural things, theater, symphony, and the sorts. We also have some of the best places to get fresh foods—farmers markets are in abundance as well as many u-pick farms BBQ in itself is a fabulous healthy way to cook—nothing like good… Read more »
Pat
9 years 1 month ago

Those fried dishes are definitely on the list of unhealthy foods. I alway wonder why most delicious foods have to be unhealthy, while the healthy ones are just taste normal.

Donna
Donna
9 years 1 month ago
In 1976 Al Copeland opened up his first Popeyes Fried Chicken in Baton Rouge, La. Years ago my deceased uncle owned 5 popeyes in Phoenix/Mesa Arizona area. Did you know that Popeyes DOES in fact list Nutritional Info. on their website, yes, they do. But, did you know that they have 4 food items that get Weight Watcher Points. Chicken Sausage Jambalaya-6 points. Crawfish Etouffee-4 points Red Beans And Rice-8 Points. Cajun Rice-4 Points. The only thing i’m getting at is this,for a fast food southern “cajun” restaurant over the years they’ve added not so greasy items. This is an… Read more »
Pat
9 years 1 month ago

I think those foods from South Eats Diet are great and a healthy selection. It’s far better than those delicious and unhealthy foods they are well know of.

Jennifer Lin
9 years 27 days ago

I have always wondered why southern food involved anything deep fried and less health conscious…
It is definitely possible to eat comforting, delicious food, without requiring it to be deep fried first.

Emily
Emily
8 years 11 months ago
It’s funny how the South gets even fatter as Yankees decide they’ve had enough of Florida and Yankee-land. Trust me, the greedy Yankee New Carpetbagger is alive and fat in the South too these days. Mark, Southern foods aren’t as unhealthy as those primarily educated by Food Network and such think. For instance, take properly done NC pork bbq. It isn’t so bad. I grew up at the true Southern table myself. Not at the “commercialized” ones like KFC, Cracker Barrel, etc. No one in my immediate family is overweight. My Southern parents exercised and still do as grandparents. Come… Read more »
emma
emma
8 years 2 months ago

the thing is, most of these people live until their 70’s and 80’s. who wants to live to 112 when you’re eating soy sh*t and tasteless vegetables? i’d rather give up 15 yrs and enjoy my food.

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