It’s the Fourth of July! What a great opportunity to declare our independence from fad diets and unite with our fellow citizens over an all-American backyard barbecue with a big, juicy 100-percent beef hamburger.

A few of our neighbors extol the virtues of soy “burgers,” bland concoctions with the flavor, consistency and satisfaction of compressed cardboard. Ya wanna burger? Get a real burger!

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Database for Standard Reference tells us that ounce for ounce, lean beef provides more valuable nutrients including protein, vitamins B6 and B12, zinc, iron and riboflavin than many so-called “healthy” alternatives, yet a 3-ounce lean beef patty only contributes less than 10 percent of a 2,000-calorie diet.

In fact, to get the same iron value as a quarter-pound lean beef burger, we’d have to eat more than 3 cups of raw spinach. To match beef’s wholesome zinc content, you’d need to eat almost a dozen 3-ounce cans of tuna, and for beef’s vitamin B12, you’d have to nosh down more than seven 3-ounce skinless chicken breasts.

Some folks imagine grilling their burgers healthfully over medium-hot coals somehow creates cancer-causing carbon build up. Well, if they don’t flip their burgers and let them cook too long, yep, they’ll surely burn, just like any food, including soy fake “burgers.”

If you’re one of our neighbors who’s sadly depriving your family of a traditional, all-American backyard burger cookout, now’s the time for your liberation from fad diets. Unite with your fellow Americans over something that brings us all together: a juicy, good ol’ American hamburger.

Happy Fourth of July!

- Leon Curenton, Crestview