National Junk Food Day keeps calorie counts climbing

Potato chips

Homemade potato chips are a great way to celebrate National Junk Food Day. Image: Flickr/edgarzuniga

July 21 has long been the unofficial “National” Junk Food Day. The very hazy origins of this holiday don’t prevent many people from celebrating it. The way it is celebrated, though, can vary widely.

Straight-up National Junk Food Day celebrations

The celebrations for National Junk Food Day are, in general, very simple. Junk food, defined as any food that has very little nutritional value, is very pervasive in most first-world countries. Many people are using National Junk Food Day as an excuse to pig out on chips, soda, and candy bars. There is a lot to be said for that, too — being too strict about your diet all the time can be exhausting.

Anti-celebration of National Junk Food Day

Nutritionists and good-food advocates are most likely having a heart attack over National Junk Food Day. The reality is that most people already eat plenty of junk food every day. A day to celebrate junk food seems to be pedaling backward on progress improving the American diet. Some dietitians are calling for National Junk Food Day to become a day to eat anything but junk food.

Why junk food is attractive

Though many agree that junk food is not good for you, it is incredibly popular. There are several reasons, but the first is usually cost. It’s a simple calculation – a 400-calorie bag of potato chips can be $1, while a 400-calorie chicken breast is $3, and 400 calories of broccoli is easily $5. When food budgets are stretched thin, it seems much less expensive to eat junk food. Nutritional value often comes second — for everyone from the regular consumer to school lunch programs.

Make your own National Junk Food Day

Making a pan of your own homemade Snickers on National Junk Food Day avoids the additives and stabilizers necessary for a shelf-stable candy bar. The full instructions for this confection can be found all over the Internet – but Instructables is the best we’ve found. Making your own potato chips is much easier. Just slice potatoes very thinly, and bake at 450 degrees on a well-oiled sheet. Flip, salt, and you’re ready to go. You could also try making your own doughnuts, your own coffee or your own candy-coated popcorn.

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