A special interest group is planning an all-out assault on Southern eating habits -- starting in Bedford County.
"We've been horrified by the fat- and salt-laden traditional Southern diet for years," said Dr. Cal Orrie, director of Americans for Healthy Eating, a group of physicians which has been studying America's diet for years.
The organization plans a blitz of pamphlets describing a healthier diet. They'll be distributed to students in the Bedford County school system first, then organizers hope more will be given to customers at local restaurants when menus are handed out by wait staff.
"We expect resistance at first to the restaurant idea," Orrie said, "but we're sure managers will come around when they realize customers will visit more often since, with the weight loss from our suggestions, they won't have to worry as much about gaining weight."
The plan asks Southerners to take a close, objective look at such Southern staples as biscuits made with lard, country ham cured with large amounts of salt, chitterlings and souse.
"Souse! People actually eating pig tongues and snouts! That needs to stop," Dr. Newt Trition, of AHE, said. "Even the more common foods seem to use fat as the main ingredient.
"Just 'cause Grandma prepared food with this stuff doesn't mean you have to do so."
Orrie is particularly concerned by the amount of fried food consumed locally.
"I swear, it looks like you people practically even fry your breakfast cereal," Orrie said. "What's with this frying thing?"
Also under attack by AHE are barbecue ribs, cornbread, and homemade jams and jellies.
Trition suggets the group's members may eventually visit Bedford County personally and distribute information and samples of healthy dishes in restaurant parking lots and at special events.
"Do you think Bell Buckle would go for changing the RC & Moon Pie Festival to the Green Tea and Mustard Greens Festival?" Trition exclaimed. "Since it's a progressive community, it could join the 'green' movement. And, since seeds from that particular mustard plant are used to make Dijon mustard, they add a pinch of sophistication to the town and event."
Another AHE member, Mari Juana Plant, insists the group is serious about its efforts.
"We're not just blowing smoke," Plant said. "We'll have you feeling better in no time."
The three AHE representatives said they've been surprised on their area visits by how healthy most Bedford Countians appear.
"But you may not be as healthy as you feel or look," Trition said.
"Don't be fooled," Orrie said, explaining his fear that the group won't be taken seriously. "Don't read anything into this. We have only good intentions -- a goal of giving you a healthier and better life. And that's the truth."