“I came for Old Faithful, but I stayed for the yogurt parfaits?” I don’t know how many people visit our national parks for the food, but if they do, that food will be good for them, thanks to the National Parks Service’s new healthy food choices program.
Don’t worry, you can still get hot dogs, burgers and ice cream, but the 23 million visitors-a-year who buy meals in national parks will soon have more healthy, nutritious menu options, according to Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
“Our national parks are renowned around the world for their breathtaking landscapes and important cultural and historical sites,” Jewell said in a press releae. “Today, as part of the administration’s efforts to promote healthier choices, we are adding yet another reason to visit our national parks and increasing the number of healthy food options available to visitors at parks from coast to coast.”
The new Healthy Food Choice Standards announced by Sec. Jewell are part of the Parks Services’ overall Healthy Parks, Healthy People US initiative intended to harness the people-drawing power of the national parks systems to promote health and well being. Signs displaying nutritional data, including calorie counts, are already starting to appear in parks restaurants and snack bars as part of the Healthy Parks, Healthy People program.
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“There is no reason that you should have to take a vacation from eating well when you visit a national park,” said Healthy Parks, Healthy People director Jonathan B Jarvis. “Traditional favorites such as hot dogs and ice cream will remain, but the new standards will provide additional choices, such as fish tacos and yogurt parfaits, for the 23 million people who buy meals in national parks each year.”
Along with more nutritious food options, the Parks Service’s Healthy Food Choice Standards urge parks food concessionaire to use locally grown or raised products when available. A move the Parks Service says will ensure fresh food, reduce environmental impacts, and support regional economies.
For example, at Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore, concessionaires are already offering a variety of seasonal ingredients from local vendors, including fish, beef, bread, and tomatoes to dairy products, blueberries, cage-free eggs, and vegetables. Mount Rushmore’s “Lakota Popcorn” is from the harvest of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe.
The new Healthy Food Choice Standards require fruits and vegetables to be included with all meals or as side dishes, with low-fat and low-sodium options available. Whenever possible, reduced serving sizes are to be offered. Low-fat and fat-free milk should be offered and at last 30% of all drinks should be sugar-free.
The new standards also encourage the use of organically grown foods, along with fair trade and shade grown coffees, while discouraging the use of genetically modified (GMO) foods.
“There is no reason that you should have to take a vacation from eating well when you visit a national park,” Sec. Jarvis added.
2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
The US Food Safety System