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The Sweetlife Festival 2011 -- Combatting the Fat of the Land With the Strokes

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We're fat. Really... really... fat.

The fattest, actually, internationally speaking -- Over 27 percent of adults are considered obese in the U.S., and perhaps even more depressing is that up to 33 percent of kids fit in this bracket as well.

Combine this eating epidemic with that of the American education system (maybe throw in some economic struggles for an extra oomph), and you might lose sleep at night trying to get the visual of our country's future out of your head.

Holy Doritos, Batman.

Isn't it just a little too fitting that many think of us not just as the world's bullies, but also dumb and fat?

Although lack of education may not be the sole root of the issue, if the masses live in ignorance of better alternatives, poor eating habits are surely going to dominate our diets.

In my hometown we are very happy to boast that many consider us to be the first Capital of the U.S. We don't, however, often choose to acknowledge that we're also one of the most overweight cities in America.

To be fair, growing up in a place like this you just didn't see many options for healthy eating, and you really didn't think about it either. The demand wasn't there, so like most of the country, we ate really terrible foods.

We're also not the only place whose annual fair will gladly serve you deep-fried Twinkies, Oreo cookies and probably anything else that fits in the basket. To each his own, sure, but come on... don't we know better by now?

Oddly enough, due to a love for music and a band called The Strokes, I recently learned about the many ways one company is working to remind a gluttonous society that we absolutely do.

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Credit: SPREADHouse

Curated by the primarily D.C.-based Sweetgreen restaurant chain, the second-annual Sweetlife Festival at the legendary Merriweather Post Pavillion was a major step up from last year's parking lot show. Featuring a diverse roster including Girl Talk, Lupe Fiasco, Crystal Castles, Ra Ra Riot, local artist U.S. Royalty and headliners The Strokes, the festival offered an on-site farmer's market, a variety of greening efforts and donated it's proceeds to the partnering Jamie Oliver Food Foundation.

You wouldn't expect to sell twice as many salads as burritos at a rock concert... or that they'd run out of quinoa -- right, Live Nation? I mean this is Amerika. We prefer to eat like shit. Who'd ever think that when given the option of a $12 rubber Aramark cheeseburger or an organic salad, we might actually take the high road?

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Credit: SPREADHouse

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Credit: Wandering Hat

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Credit: SPREADHouse

The festival was a natural progression for Sweetgreen. Founders, Neman, Ru and Jammet, attribute much of their restaurant's early success to music, and in turn have built it into the company's DNA. Driven by their own personal tastes in music, they went from attracting customers by setting-up DJ equipment outside the restaurant on weekends, to incorporating it into all the new store opening parties and now continuing the conversation year-round through in-store performances called Sweetlife Sessions (such as this one with Toro Y Moi).

Additionally, the brand's prosperity has enabled an extension of it's lifestyle into giving back to the community through the Sweetgreen In School's program -- A monthly series of interactive, educational nutrition classes done through a fun curriculum for kids at 5 participating schools (from which, an entire bus of students were brought to the festival).

Provide healthy food and then market it in a way that people actually opt for it. This is the mentality that Sweetgreen follows, and one I hope will be adopted widely. In other words, not waiting for demand, but helping to create it.

I've got a tremendous amount of faith in this crew's ability to continue to culminate an interesting and conscious brand, helping to remove one national stereotype at a time.

Props fellas.

May The Sweetlife festival grow just as quickly as the restaurant chain has, and may we begin to slim down as a nation.

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