Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Labun Jordan: Not A Salad

We shouldn’t treat our desserts like vegetables – pretty obvious concept when I think about it – but putting it into practice can be difficult. I realized this the other day when I was eating a bland, crumbly cookie from a package that had passed its prime about a week earlier. It wasn’t great, but it was a cookie, and I didn’t see any other cookies around, so it seemed sensible to finish it.

Then I thought - wait, this dessert isn’t like a salad, I have no obligation to finish it so I can reach my daily recommended servings, I get no nutritional benefit - the only benefit to dessert is if it tastes great, which this did not. But it was a small cookie, so by the time I had this thought, it was gone.

The next day started with a box of doughnuts leftover from a hockey tournament. Yes, they were stale, but they had attractive sprinkles on top. Then again, a salad of shredded beets, carrots and radicchio, perhaps with an orange vinaigrette, would’ve been twice as colorful - and I was still reaching for the stale sprinkles.

I finish my dinners with a salad and a dessert because my habit is to finish dinners with salad and dessert. It’s a routine - first salad, then dessert - they might as well be a single dish because they always go together.

And I’m very polite about desserts. I don’t like éclairs, but I’ll eat them when they’re offered at a party - a courtesy I do not extend to water cress or radishes.

Dessert ingredients show up in my food even when I’m not looking. I’ll find sugar, for example, in unexpected places, like soups, pasta sauces, or lunch meat. But i f food producers are going to sneak in ingredients without me noticing, I’d rather they choose something healthy - like kale.

Basically, I fill my days with desserts and dessert-like foods, without paying them any attention whatsoever. This mindlessness might be justified if I applied it to eating a maximum amount of leafy greens. But I don’t and I suspect others are in the same boat. So, in response, I’m calling on the American public to support better desserts.

Forget about lackluster sources of extra sugar, fat, and carbs. Abandon stale cookies. Dessert should be a true indulgence. Dessert should be delicious – like croissants with chocolate hazelnut filling, almond cakes, and caramel made from real cream. I want a return to old fashioned butterscotch pudding and gingerbread straight from the oven. I live next to a bakery with thick fruit scones, S’mores tartes, and lemon meringue cake. Plus, I myself know how to bake and I have an oven. So there’s just no reason to settle for inferior desserts.

And yes, fine, we should also all eat more vegetables. Once I get rid of the desserts I don’t care about, I’ll have plenty of space in my diet for the vegetables, too.

Helen Labun has worked in Vermont nonprofits addressing issues in rural economic development. Today, she is Executive Director of the Vermont Fresh Network, connecting chefs to Vermont farmers in support of the local food economy.
Latest Stories