As we celebrate our freedoms this Independence Day, the variety of food choices we have in America is one liberty we should not overlook. Whether you have dietary restrictions, cultural traditions or other preferences, you can be assured of the diversity and safety of our American food system.

A white picnic table top with an American Flag draped over the top left corner with plates of hamburger, salads and hotdogs with a glass of milk.

Why do food choices matter?

Food choices matter because they impact our health, well-being and individual cultural identities. The freedom to make personal food choices allows us to tailor our diets to specific health needs, ethical beliefs and lifestyle preferences.

Our food choices are also deeply linked to cultural and family traditions, connecting us to our heritage and creating family bonds through the shared dining experience. Ultimately, choosing what we eat – both for ourselves and our families – empowers us to nourish our bodies, honor our values and preserve longstanding cultural legacies.

Understanding the diversity of dietary preferences.

The beauty in our food system shines through the number of dietary preferences our farmers, food companies and grocery stores are able to accommodate. Supporting and validating dietary preferences is critical in today’s culture.

Increased interests in keto, gluten-free and other diet preferences are a result of many reasons, ranging from health benefits to allergens to cultural beliefs. Fortunately, the availability of diverse food options has also increased to meet consumer demands, making it easier for everyone to find suitable, satisfying meal options.

While we might not all have the same dietary preferences at our dinner tables, respecting the dietary choices of others is essential for fostering an inclusive food culture. This allows us all to feel acknowledged and valued while also promoting a sense of community and understanding around our food system.

Why are food labels important to food choices?

Food labels are an important resource for understanding the food we purchase and consume. In addition to general nutrition information like calories, carbs and vitamin makeups, food labels also tell us how the food was grown or what it contains – which can be an important determining factor for those with food allergies.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is ultimately responsible for assuring foods sold in the United States are not only safe but labeled properly. However, there are sometimes additional information provided on labels that manufacturers provide voluntary.

Food labels can be confusing and understanding what they mean may play a role in the purchases you are making at the store. For a breakdown of some of the most common food labels used in the United States, visit Gather Wisconsin’s Understanding Food Labels section.

How does food connect us to our culture?

Food is deeply intertwined with cultural identity, serving as a symbol of heritage and tradition. Traditional foods like Italian pasta, Mexican tamales or Indian curry are not just meals but rather expressions of cultural history. These dishes often hold significant meaning, often linked to family traditions and cultural celebrations.

Preserving our own food traditions helps maintain a connection to our individual cultures. At the same time, being open to exploring new culinary traditions enriches our palettes and fosters our cultural understanding of others. Celebrating and honoring food’s diversity while embracing new flavors and practices can create a more inclusive and vibrant food culture for all.

How does Wisconsin promote food safety and diversity?

In our state, we are fortunate to have a diverse agricultural industry that helps support dietary freedoms. Furthermore, Wisconsin’s food system is dedicated to maintaining high standards of safety and quality through various initiatives and practices.

As we celebrate Independence Day, let’s remember the freedom of food choice in America. Our diverse and safe food system accommodates dietary needs, cultural traditions and personal preferences, shaping our individual health, identity and community. You can be assured that your choices are celebrated and protected by our strong food system and the farmers on the frontlines of growing it.