It has been nearly 150 years since President Abraham Lincoln issued an Executive Order that proclaimed the freedom of slaves in those 10 rebellious states after the raging American Civil War. But the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, was not celebrated by the enslaved until June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger stormed into Galveston, Texas with his Union troops to enforce the president's order.
Juneteenth, as it is referred to today, is celebrated in dozens of U.S. states by African Americans who continue to commemorate the freedom of ancestors yoked by the awesome burden of human servitude. This year, Juneteenth is celebrated June 15-17 in historic Douglass Park. Observers can expect a festive good time with lots of music, dancing, singing, games and food.
It is good to focus on the history and subsequent freedom from slavery, but it is of primary importance not to over-indulge on the tons of food that will be served fried, grilled, battered, tossed and dunked in vats of grease. Don't misunderstand me; a celebration is in order. However, food served at festivals is not always of the healthy kind.
When I think about Juneteenth, I think about a family reunion, which reminds me of the chart-topping 1975 "Family Reunion" album by the R & B group, The O'Jays. It's good for families to come together, to remember from whence they've come, to strengthen the family bond, and to lay out a cornucopia of foods from which to eat. It's a time to reflect, rejoice and give thanks for being freed from bondage.
Slavery has been abolished, but we are still subjugated to foods that are not good for us. There is nothing wrong celebrating our freedom from slavery, but don't be a slave to foods that can cause ill health and catastrophic diseases such as high-blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.
So are you really free if the food you're eating is causing health problems? I don't think so. That's because you can never be free if you're depending on something that is causing you detriment. Slavery was the culprit nearly 150 years ago. Now the food we're eating today is unhealthy, in most cases, and served up in detrimental portions. How many times have you heard someone over a fast food counter ask, "Would you like to supersize your meal?"
The average American eats 29 pounds of French fries, 23 pounds of pizza, 24 pounds of ice cream, 24 pounds of artificial sweeteners, 2.736 pounds of salt, 90,700 milligrams of caffeine, and drinks 53 gallons of soda per year. Do you really think you can remain healthy in such toxic environment?
There will be lots of French fries, pizza and sodas served at the Juneteenth festival. But we must not over-indulge or gorge on foods that have little nutritional value and loaded with salt. Freedom in this case would be a complete denial or avoidance of unhealthy food.
Let's celebrate freedom all right; but let's celebrate it without consuming foods that are additive and unhealthy. You'll have to control your eating habits of course, and try to avoid food that will inevitably lead to high-blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, lupus and cancer.
There is nothing wrong with remembering the past. However, when it comes to good health, it must be our number one goal, if we are truly seeking freedom from bondage. Slavery has been abolished, but you still can be enslaved if you succumb to the lure of unhealthy food. Celebrate freedom, but don't be tempted to overeat, even if you find it difficult to resist the wafting of delectable food in the park.
Festivals are designed to attract the masses. But I'm not naïve to the fact that healthy foods more than likely will not be a menu item in the park. But just think – not about the festival – but you could actually save about $20,000 if you eat a well-balance, plant-based diet. You would be surprised how a plant-based diet can improve your life.
There is a misconception though that a plant-based diet consists of nothing but salads. That's not true. There are other foods you can eat. But I do know this: Your health will improve because of the absence of processed and prepackaged foods in your system.
So enjoy the Juneteenth festivities and celebrate as much as you can without causing detriment to your health.
(Dr. Timothy Moore teaches nutrition, heart disease and diabetes reversal through a plant-based lifestyle. He is a professional speaker, wellness coach and personal plant-based chef. He's the author of 47 Tips To Reverse Your Diabetes'. He can be reached by email at cheftimothy @cheftimothymoore.com or visit him on the Web sites at www.cheftimothymoore.com or www.twitter.com/cheftimmoore.)