Diet

Does the Grand Canyon Make My Ass Look Fat?

Junk food menus get a major makeover in national parks

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National parks around the country are havens of natural beauty and historic significance, but until now, that description never jived with the food sold at concession stands in places like the Grand Canyon or the Statue of Liberty. (Unless you count hot dogs under heat lamps for a questionable amount of time as "history.") The National Park Service recently introduced new food standards for concession stands at all national parks, calling for healthy options like fruit and vegetables, smaller portion sizes, low-sodium and low-fat meals, and non-sugary drinks to be added to menus.

The change is part of first lady Michelle Obama's healthy diet initiative, and the program was unveiled at an event last week in Washington, D.C., where attendees snacked on samples of free-range chicken, sweet potato cakes, and strawberry rhubarb gazpacho -- examples of the kind of food visitors can expect in the coming years.

Don't worry: you can still face into fried chicken, burgers, and ice cream bars in the parks. Kathy Kupper, spokesperson for the National Park Service said the standards are only about offering healthy options on menus, not food policing the public or taking away our fatty favorites.

When can you expect to see dishes like rockfish tacos or berry yogurt parfaits on the menu? Some parks, like the Grand Canyon, have already voluntarily implemented the standards, and the program will be part of all new concessions contracts and renewed contracts as they expire. The new guidelines also encourage concessionaires to use local, sustainable foods, hormone- and antibiotic-free meat, and coffee harvested for brands with worker-friendly policies when possible. (For the complete, bureaucratic details about the new standards, see National Park Service Healthy Food Choice Standards and Sustainable Food Choice Guidelines.)

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