Anything about West Virgina tends to peak my interest these days...Especially anything that combines my new home with my most favorite hobby, food and cooking. So when I read recently that a Food Network celeb was airing a show about a very unhealthy WV town, I was very curious. What could possibly be so unhealthy about my new state?
It turns out that Huntington, WV was recently named the unhealthiest city in America by the Associated Press based on data from the CDC. A little digging on Huntington led me to find out that it sits on the Ohio River in the Southwest part of the state. To the south are large coal mines that feed our power plants. Prior to the modernization of the coal industry Huntington was a hub for manufacturing jobs in the chemical and locomotive industry. The primary diet consisted of rich, fatty, fried foods with gravies and sauces that were worked off with manual labor. Since modernization, the manual labor that burned the calories of that food has all but disappeared. However, the diets of most of Huntington's residents have not changed with the times. Fast food resturants dominate the town and there is very little emphasis on exercise. The economy has suffered so much since the change in industry and with that the town has gotten increasingly unhealthy. It is said that Huntington is tied with a few other metropolitan areas for the proportion of people who don't exercise, have heart disease and diabetes.
Unhealthiest City is not the way city leaders probably want their town to be recognized. That doesn't exactly make me want to hurry up and get there. Luckily, help is on the way. While things can't be changed over night, small steps can be taken to help the citizens of this town change their attitude about healthy eating.
Tonight on ABC (if you can pull yourself away from the Sweet Sixteen) Jamie Oliver, of the Food Network, begins his new show called "Food Revolution." The show will attempt to persuade the people of Huntington to go for fresh, affordable foods and produce over processed foods.
Not only does he hope to help the town of Huntington, Oliver hopes to help begin a Food Revolution in the lunchrooms of our schools. As Congress considers legislation to toughen rules that regulate school lunches the former "Naked Chef" plans to take the initiative to the White House at the conclusion of the show.