Category: Culture

These Are the Healthiest US States

When you need to work on your health, you try to eat right, get some exercise, and take your vitamins. That means you’ll want brands like Apricot Power and DesBio in your medicine cabinet!

It also helps to surround yourself with positive people who support your quest for better health. That’s why you’ll want to consider living in one of the following healthy states.

What Are the Healthiest States in the U.S.?

1. California

California has one of the best combinations of obesity, smoking, and suicide rates in the country. About 12% of adults in the state report having “poor” mental health from 2021 information.

2. New Jersey

Although more people smoke in New Jersey, there is a lower infant mortality rate in this state. The obesity rate is also slightly lower than California’s, coming in at 25.7%.

3. New York

With a suicide rate about 30% less than California’s and similar rankings in every other category, the only thing that prevents New York from being in the top spot is two extra percentage points on the obesity rate.

4. Colorado

This state has one of the lowest obesity rates in the country. It also has one of the highest suicide ratings, with more people than average reporting poor mental health. If you love being active and don’t mind higher altitudes, this place is for you.

5. Washington

Although the obesity rates and number of adults reporting poor mental health are slightly higher than other states, Washington still holds a top spot because of the population’s activity levels. You’ll also find one of the lower infant mortality rates in the country here.

When you live in one of the healthiest states, you may have to adjust to a change in cultural and political environments, but at least you’ll be surrounding yourself with more people who support your positive lifestyle choices. Don’t forget about taking your vitamins!

What Makes an Idaho® Potato Special?

Idaho® Potatoes are so special that the state is a trademarked part of the name. What makes this crop better in this state than anywhere else in the world?

Although the marketing efforts for Idaho Potatoes are excellent, people keep coming back because of the flavors and consistency that the state produces each year.

That outcome is possible because there are three traits that you’ll find in Idaho for potato-growing which isn’t available in other parts of the United States (or the rest of the world).

  1. Most of the potatoes grown in Idaho come from the eastern part of the state where elevations are around 5,000 feet above sea level. That means you get warm summer days and cool nights.
  2. The croplands sit at the base of the Teton Mountains. Those summits collect snow each year that serves as an aquafer that delivers nutrients and irrigation for the potatoes.
  3. The Snake River basin was given a massive coating of volcanic dust millennia ago. That event produced a light soil foundation that is perfect for potato growth.

How Are Idaho Potatoes Better Than the Rest?

Because the growing conditions are so favorable in Idaho for potatoes, you’ll find that they tend to have some unique traits that aren’t found in other locations.

For starters, the texture of an Idaho potato is often better. It tends to be fluffy instead of dense, allowing for a more enjoyable dining experience. This quality remains even when you do a long, slow bake on them.

If you fry the Idaho potatoes to create French fries or other items, they outer part cooks up crisply while the interior absorbs less oil.

Since a potato has more potassium and vitamin C than a banana, it’s a vegetable that deserves the attention it receives. If you’re looking for a tasty treat, grab a potato from Idaho today!

These 5 States Make the Best Grits

Grits is any coarsely-ground grain that gets turned into a porridge-like dish. It’s typically made from a starchy corn, with the product often soaked in lye to remove the hard hull.

If you’ve had hominy before, you got to try the root form of grits.

It’s different from polenta, although the latter option is essentially Italian grits. The primary difference is that it is made from cornmeal.

If you want to taste authentic Americana, you’ll want to book a flight through WestJet and visit these states where they make the best grits in the country.

List of the States Where You Must Try Their Grits

1. South Carolina

If you want some of the best grits in the United States, you’ll need to visit Poogan’s Porch in Charleston. It’s often named the best dish of its type in the state, and it has even received some national recognition. They use local shrimp and grains to create more freshness.

2. Mississippi

Head over to Big Bad Breakfast in Oxford if you want some incredible grits. The restaurant sources the ingredients from a small business that uses locally stone-ground corn to create the dish. They won’t disappoint!

3. Louisiana

When you head over to New Orleans, take some time to visit The Court of Two Sisters. It’s right in the French Quarter, and they use a traditional grits recipe that works well with their jazz buffet.

4. Georgia

When you visit The Flying Biscuit Café in Atlanta, the white cheddar infusion they use creates a dreamy experience. Pair them with their trademark biscuits to have a mouthwatering experience!

5. North Carolina

At the Mimosa Grill, Sunday mornings are meant for grits and brunch. You can select from several topping choices to have a customized flavor experience.

Do you have a favorite grits recipe at home when making this dish? What are your secrets for a successful outcome? Let us know!

States with the Best Seafood

If you love having seafood, you’ll find that some states do a better job of delivering the ocean’s bounty than others.

You don’t need to live in a coastal state to enjoy fresh seafood. Many areas have inland waters, including rivers and lakes, that offer freshwater fish and other species to enjoy.

Here are the best states for seafood you’ll want to visit. If you already live in one of them, you should consider yourself lucky!

1. California

With almost 900 miles of coastline to manage, you’ll find a wide range of seafood to enjoy here. When you’re in SoCal, expect to find everything from rock crab to spot prawns. As you travel north, you can find Dungeness crab, abalone, and oysters.

2. Florida

The Intracoastal waters and access to deep-water fishing make this state a fantastic seafood destination. When you add the Gulf of Mexico into the mix, the bounty becomes phenomenal! You can get almost anything here, including snapper, grouper, spiny lobster, and several crab species.

3. Louisiana

About 40% of the country’s estuary marshes are found in this state. It’s the home to the largest commercial fishery as well, producing everything from oysters to catfish. If you stop for a visit, don’t forget about the crawfish that came from the local waters!

4. Alaska

With nearly 7,000 miles of coastline, some of the best seafood you’ll eat comes from this state. Many of the king crab, halibut, salmon, and shrimp supplies we enjoy come from these waters. You can even talk with the wholesalers about shipping items directly to your door.

5. Massachusetts

The fishing industry is what helped to build this state’s economy in its early days. That’s because over 80 different seafood species live off of the coast. You’ll love the bass, trout, and tuna that are plentiful, and you can even grab clams and oysters in season.

Where do you like to go for your seafood adventures?

On another note, does anyone know where to go for a good pepperoni roll?

5 Smallest Towns and Why They’re Great

You should visit New Glarus at least once. This small town of about 2,000 people sits halfway between Madison and Monroe in Wisconsin. You’ll find Swiss culture is prevalent throughout the community, even with the chalets that serve as residential homes.

You’ll even find an award-winning brewery operating in the community. With numerous festivals, alphorn concerns, and Swiss-related businesses, it’s a cool small town.

Here are some other small towns in the United States and why they’re great.

1. Fairhope, AL

This Southern community has a French Quarter, one of the state’s best hotels, and access to a fantastic spa. You can find two golf courses awaiting your arrival, with both often rated as some of the best in the United States.

2. Unalaska, AK

About 4,500 people live in this small town that became famous after the Deadliest Catch series premiered. Several major cruise lines have now added it as a destination. You can do some whale watching, catch a fishing charter, and explore the wartime history from the 1940s.

3. Eureka Springs, AR

This small town is often listed as one of America’s most distinctive destinations. You’ll find Victorian-style homes perched on cliffs, over 100 shops in the downtown area, and plenty of galleries to explore.

4. Carmel, CA

This village might only be one square mile in size, but it is one of the best small towns in the US. You’ll find fairytale cottages there, upscale boutiques, and a famous basilica to tour. If you love to visit the beach, this destination is for you.

5. Mancos, CO

When you visit this small town, you’ll be right outside of Mesa Verde National Bark. About 10% of the town’s population are working artists, writers, and other creatives. With the mountains on one side and ranches on the other, it’s a fantastic spot for those who want to live a slower lifestyle.

What are some of the best small towns you’ve visited?

Why Kentucky Is the Bourbon Capital of the World

Although there isn’t a law that says bourbon must be made in Kentucky, there might as well be with the production levels that happen there. The corn-based spirits age in barrels to create about 95% of the world’s supply.

If you think that something must be in the water in Kentucky to make great bourbon, you’d be right. Much of the state is on top of blue limestone deposits, adding more magnesium and calcium to the groundwater tables.

When you dunk a cup into a Kentucky stream, the water will taste better than almost anything else you’ll find in the country.

Kentucky’s Weather Contributes to the Bourbon

The continental climate you can find in Kentucky also makes the state an excellent place for making bourbon. You get hot summers and chilly winters, allowing the whiskey to develop its distinctive flavor within the charred aging barrels.

Those temperature changes allow the wood to breathe, creating the expansion and contraction needed for the alcohol to move in and out.

That facet of Kentucky life is also why corn production in the state occurs at high levels. Immigrants from Virginia were given 400 acres of land to use if they built a cabin and planted the crop, with many of them coming from Ireland and Scotland.

With the distilling knowledge they brought with them, Kentucky was a paradise for those who loved bourbon.

Kentucky Bourbon Changed the Recipe

It’s said that a Baptist preacher invented bourbon after storing whiskey in barrels that got charred by a fire. State officials say there isn’t any truth to that idea.

By 1794, there were already 500 distilleries operating in the state. Most of them got to work relatively tax-free until the Civil War, except for a War of 1812 tax.

You can make bourbon almost anywhere with the right ingredients. If you don’t get your spirits from Kentucky, what are you actually drinking?

American Novels That Wonderfully Encapsulate the Immigrant Story

Although the American story went through some stops and starts in the past four years, it is still one of the world’s most significant cultural melting pots.

You can find people from virtually every corner of the planet finding their way to the United States to make a new life for themselves and their families.

These fantastic American novels work to encapsulate those stories in unique and touching ways.

What Are the Best American Immigration Novels?

1. Behold the Dreamers

This novel introduces the reader to a Cameroonian family where the husband becomes a chauffeur for an executive at Lehman Brothers. When things fall apart because of the Great Recession, you’ll find that the drama creates a beautiful story about perseverance, love, and grace from an authentic American perspective.

2. Americanah

You’ll find one of the best contemporary characters in American immigration literature in this story. It follows a Nigerian woman who comes to the United States on a scholarship. Her significant other encounters troubles with government policies, so you’ll get a frank take on what people face in today’s world.

3. The Book of Unknown Americans

What makes this novel a must-read item is its structure. Instead of following one story, you’re getting to know several voices who all speak in the first-person to you. It’s a place where you can see blatant racism, hate, and hope – all on the same page.

4. Ha Jin

This story introduces us to Nan Wu, who came to the United States after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. After making America their permanent home, it becomes a story about one person’s search for meaning and a place in this world. How can you identify with your culture while living in a different country?

What are some of your favorite books about immigration that you’ve picked up to read over the past year?

What Makes the Boston Accent So Unique?

The Boston accent is unique in the United States because of its phonological characteristics. You’ll hear different vowel sounds, especially in the centering diphthongs, that make it more nasal and with additional short “a” sounds compared to others.

Any words that have “ar” together in them create the classic example of the Boston accent. Instead of say, “car,” you’d hear someone say, “cah.” If you were headed to the park with the kids for the day, you’d go to the “pahk.”

This accent started in the early 20th century, but it seems to be retreating with the younger generation. Although you can still hear it in the city’s older neighborhoods, the change is getting closer to a NYC accent instead.

The Pronunciation Is Over 400 Years Old

Although the city has been speaking with the Boston accent for about a century, the phonetics behind the words are over 400 years old. It’s called “non-rhotic” pronunciation, dating to the time when the first settlers came from Europe.

During the 17th century in England, it was considered a rustic part of the English language to omit the “R” sounds from most words. It’s not considered a prestige feature, but the city of Boston is who led the way in that perspective.

The removal of “R” sounds wasn’t limited to the spoken word. When you review documents from the 17th century throughout Massachusetts and upper New England, you’ll find most words had the letter removed. That means people named “George” had their names document as “Geoge.”

That’s why you can find George Washington documents that say “Geoge Washington.”

It’s not only the phonetics that set the Boston accent apart from others. You can find the city using British slang for some terms, such as “rubbish” instead of saying “trash.”

You can also engage in a fun conversation about whether you’re having soda, pop, or Coke when you need a carbonated beverage.

Cities That Celebrate Easter Like None Other

Easter celebrates several cultural moments simultaneously. It’s a time when we embrace spring, look for renewal, and when Christians look to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Although everyone celebrates Easter (or Resurrection Sunday) a little differently, some cities go all-out on their efforts to have fun.

Lingering COVID-19 restrictions might change some festivals and celebrations in 2021, but you can still find some ways to have fun in the way you prefer at these destinations.

Best Cities for Celebrating Easter

1. New York City

When you think about Easter, you might see gift baskets, flowers, and brunch in your future. That’s why NYC almost always ranks as the best place to celebrate this holiday. You’ll find more chocolate and candy stores here per capita, along with numerous egg-hunting events to enjoy.

2. Chicago

You’ll find people coming out in droves to enjoy the city’s Easter egg hunts each year. You’ll find several holiday traditions waiting for you here, along with some of the more religious tones to the day celebrated downtown and along the lakefront.

3. Cincinnati

You’ll find more churches per capita in this city celebrating the Easter holiday than in almost any other destination in the United States. Only Birmingham and St. Louis rank higher. Although the look and feel are closer to something traditional and less organized, you’ll still find lots of opportunities to spend time with your family.

4. Orlando

You’d want to come to this city for a warm-weather Easter if your city gets stuck in a cold pattern. You’ll find lots of gift shops, tourist attractions, and brunch destinations to enjoy during your stay. There are also all of the theme parks to try now that the COVID restrictions are slowly easing.

5. Las Vegas

If your Easter traditions involve fine dining and a lovely walk outside, you’ll appreciate what this city offers. You can find almost any chocolate or candy here, and there are lots of activities for the kids to enjoy.

Where do you like to do as part of your Easter holiday traditions?

How Los Angeles Became the Birthplace of Skateboarding

If you want to see the birthplace of skateboarding, you need to make your way to Dogtown. The skating culture in LA’s slums would eventually change the world, but it wasn’t always that way.

Today, a trip to Santa Monica takes you to some lovely boutiques, promenades, and people working out along the beach. It wasn’t that long ago that this area was called Dogtown, and it was the heart of LA’s lower-middle-class version of suburbia.

Instead of taking items from Amazing Grass or Sunwarrior to get your energy levels up, the goal was to survive. You worked hard, scraped by, and taught your kids how they could be resilient in a complicated world.

It All Started at Pacific Ocean Park

The city opened a pier at Pacific Ocean Park in 1958, offering another visual representation of American’s Golden Era at the time. By the 1970s, it was already abandoned. That’s when society’s “misfits” started hanging out around the area.

The place began to be known as POP, and the surfing around the pier eventually got the region dubbed as “The Cove.”

What could these young adults do on the days when the waves weren’t strong enough for surfing? Those brainstorming sessions led to skateboarding in the streets to practice surfing, and that process eventually led some to transition their tricks from the water to the land.

Some of the initial group members are revered names in the skateboarding community today: Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta, Jay Adams, and Peggy Oki.

When drought came to LA during the 1970s, swimming pools dried up to become places for skateboarding to evolve. The sport took its evolutionary leap toward the various bowls, obstacles, and shapes we see today to encourage boarders to catch some air.

We wouldn’t have Tony Hawk without the pioneering work of Jim Muir or Wentzle Ruml.

That’s how LA became the birthplace of skateboarding. If you travel to Santa Monica, you’re visiting holy ground.