5 June 2015
Today is National Doughnut Day, which on some level is really kind of disgusting. Don’t get me wrong, I love doughnuts and I’m all for celebrating the greatness of foods, but why do we have actual days established to celebrate food? Okay, that was (mostly) a rhetorical question. I know why: Capitalism. Industries and constituents petition different levels of government to set specific observance days, which they use to promote the greatness of said industry. Awareness goes up and consumers purchase accordingly. I have no argument against the concept in general, but when you examine the list of just one month of national food observance days, you begin to wonder about the propriety of it all.
National Food Days in June, from The Nibble
First Friday: National Doughnut Day June 15: National Lobster Day
June 1: National Hazelnut Cake Day June 15: World Gin Day
June 2: National Rocky Road Ice Cream Day June 16: National Fudge Day
June 3: National Egg Day June 17: Eat All Your Veggies Day
June 4: National Cheese Day June 17: National Apple Strudel Day
June 4: National Frozen Yogurt Day June 18: National Cherry Tart Day
June 4: National Cognac Day June 18: International Picnic Day
June 5: National Gingerbread Day June 18: National Sushi Day
June 5: World Environment Day June 19: National Dry Martini Day
June 6: National Applesauce Cake Day June 20: National Vanilla Milkshake Day
June 7: National Chocolate Ice Cream Day June 21: National Peaches and Cream Day
June 8: Jelly-filled Doughnut Day June 22: National Chocolate Éclair Day
June 8: World Oceans Day (Sustainable Seafood) June 22: National Onion Rings Day
June 9: National Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Day June 23: National Pecan Sandy Day
June 10: Herbs & Spices Day June 24: National Pralines Day
June 10: National Iced Tea Day June 25: National Catfish Day
June 10: National Black Cow Day June 25: National Strawberry Parfait Day
June 11: National German Chocolate Cake Day June 26: National Chocolate Pudding Day
June 12: International Cachaça Day (Liquor) June 27: National Indian Pudding Day
June 12: International Falafel Day June 27: National Orange Blossom Day
June 12: National Jerky Day June 28: National Ceviche Day
June 12: National Peanut Butter Cookie Day June 28: National Tapioca Day
June 13: Kitchen Klutzes of America Day June 29: National Almond Buttercrunch Day
June 14: National Strawberry Shortcake Day June 30: National Ice Cream Soda Day
Notice the foods I highlighted. Of the 48 established national food observances for the month of June, 32 are for junk food or booze. That’s two thirds of the observances dedicated to noshing on sugar, fat, and liquor. I’m not sure I like the idea of my elected officials spending time signing bills that promote behaviors associated with increased obesity. As it is, nearly 35% of the American population qualifies as obese…not merely overweight: OBESE. Disturbed by my findings, I spent a few minutes trying to discover the origin of food days and when they exploded (pun intended) onto the national consciousness, but I could find nothing but cheerful listings of monthly calendars, complete with accompanying recipes. No one seems to have noticed, or perhaps they don’t mind, that we in America celebrate killing ourselves slowly on a near-daily basis. Some days offer you multiple ways to kill yourself with food.
According to the Washington Post, Doughnut Day has been around for nearly 80 years. It began when Salvation Army “doughgirls” handed out treats and coffee to WWI soldiers, called doughboys. It’s a cute idea, but I wonder if anyone alive will give a rat’s behind about honoring WWI soldiers when eating a donut today. Regardless, Dunkin’ Donuts is offering free donuts to anyone purchasing a beverage, while Krispy Kreme is handing out freebies, as well (although they do every day, if you time your visit just right). Cool. Still, it’s the mentality of this day that bugs me a lot. Forget the dead doughboys. I see that ABC News has jumped on the bandwagon with a headline that reads “All the Places to Score Freebies on National Doughnut Day.” In fact, just about every major American news outlet uses the same wording to headline their Doughnut Day coverage, collectively implying that US citizens should drop everything and spend the day hunting down freebies.
Good Lord, stop the madness! Look at that list again. First of all, why must we target niche foods like Strawberry Parfaits and German Chocolate Cakes? Why not limit our fun to all-inclusive food groups, like Ice Cream Day or Cake Day or Dessert Day and be done with it? Or to balance things out on the specificity scale, have not merely International Carrot Day (April 4, how did I miss it?), but International Carrot Sticks Day. Pair Jelly-filled Doughnut Day with Dare to Eat Strawberries Without Sugar Sprinkled on Them Day. Pair World Gin Day with Broccoli Doesn’t Really Need Cheese Sauce to Taste Good Day.
I’m not a health food nut, not remotely, no way. I’m not here to lecture you about the evils of sugar—after all, I had a (small) DQ cone only last night, and it was delicious. I’m not here to say we should stop eating ____ (fill in the blank for any currently contested food source). I only chose to discuss this because I’ve noticed lately how each day seems to have some food label attached. I have also noticed the streams of food-related posts, photos, recipes, restaurant recommendations, recipes, photos, recipes … well, you get my drift. In short, we in the West think about food a whole lot. Practically all of the time. Meanwhile, 33% of the world’s population is considered to be starving.
Maybe we should spend less time on our obese asses hunting down free doughnuts and more time doing something about all this hunger. I can think of a few ways. Support legislation to allow redistribution of food waste, as France is doing. Support charities like Heifer International, which donates sustainable livestock to people and teaches them how to raise animals, harvest their product, and pass on the offspring. Support food banks and credible organizations that ship appropriate foods to particular regions. I, for one, stopped right here in my writing to visit Feeding America, where I learned that 108,000 people in my county alone are food insecure. I put my money where my mouth is and made an immediate donation that covers 500 meals.
What will you do today, eat donuts … or donate?