Friday, October 9, 2009

The "Food Issue" of the NYT Magazine is coming

One story being featured in advance on the NYT website is "Putting America's Diet on a Diet." It tells of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's efforts to improve the eating habits of folks in the Huntington-Ashland metropolitan area, designated last year by the AP as the least healthy in the nation.

As a "metropolitan area," Huntington-Ashland is obviously not rural by ecological measures, although Huntington, West Virginia, itself has fewer than 50,000 residents. But the metropolitan area, which includes two counties in West Virginia, two in Kentucky, and one in Ohio, is surely culturally rural in at least some ways. After all, it lies at the very heart of Appalachia. I am assuming that rurality is reflected in some ways in its food culture and collective health indicators.

Here are some excerpts from Alex Witchel's story that reflect a bit of local color, while also hinting at what Jamie Oliver is up to--and up against--in Huntington.
On his first day in Huntington, W. Va., Jamie Oliver spent the afternoon at Hillbilly Hot Dogs, pitching in to cook its signature 15-pound burger.

* * *

Nearly half the adults in these five counties ... were obese, and the area led the nation in the incidence of heart disease and diabetes. The poverty rate was 19 percent, much higher than the national average. It also had the highest percentage of people 65 and older who had lost their teeth — nearly 50 percent.
All of this, Witchel suggests, makes Huntington-Ashland the perfect site for the next Jamie Oliver Challenge. Read more here, and look for the "Food Issue" in Sunday's magazine. This link is to a bit of coverage of last year's "Food Issue."

1 comment:

Spec said...

Interesting because I believe Jaime Oliver is British. So a Brit has to show Americans how to eat properly? There is also a show on the Travel Channel entitled "Man vs. Food" where the host travels from city to city taking on local food "challenges" (i.e., a three foot pizza, a five pound hamburger, super hot chicken wings). Food, or perhaps more appropriately the overabundance of food, seems almost quintessentially American (whether that is good or bad is another debate entirely). Competitive eating used to be a state fair pastime that certain people have turned into a livelihood.

There is also the correlation between the health of food and its cost that must be dealt with by Mr. Oliver. Eating healthy is expensive...there is a reason Whole Foods is called Whole Paycheck.