American diets feature high sugar, fat, and salt because people are constantly surrounded by overly processed food. People in the States expect their chips to be salty, burgers to be cheesy, and ice cream to be sugary. Even when it comes to salad, Americans find a way to incorporate the cheese, sugar, fat, and salt they crave. In Ireland, I have noticed the sweet treats are less sugary, the burgers are not as loaded with cheese, and the chips are less salty.
What really impressed me was the side salad I ordered at Birr Castle. When I initially ordered my sandwich at the counter, the waitress told me that my sandwich would come with a “fresh side salad.”
In terms of first acquiring salads, I noticed a difference between Ireland and the States. In America, if a person orders a lunch sandwich, chances are that sandwich comes with a heap of fries. If an American does go out of their way to order a side salad, the salad portion would be much larger than what I experienced at Birr Castle. All of the lunch sandwiches at Birr Castle came with side salads. The portions of the salads were much smaller than portions of side salads in the States. Also, American salads tend to be drenched in a thick ranch dressing but at Birr Castle, the salad was coated with a light, simple oil dressing. In terms of the majority content of the salad, American salads usually include iceberg lettuce which is essentially all water and drastically lacks in nutrients when compared to other collard greens. The content of the salad at Birr Castle consisted of dark nutrient-rich greens, cucumbers, carrots, and onions. The toppings in American salads are often times coated with shredded cheese and garlic croutons. These toppings are obviously not nearly as healthy as the additions of vegetables in the Irish salad.
Even the prawn salad I had for lunch on Inis Oirr was modest and appropriate. It had dark, leafy greens, plump tomatoes, a fresh lemon and a healthy amount of dressing.
Both the salads I tried in Ireland were much healthier in terms of content and portion size when compared to American salads.
My overall observation in terms of Irish food compared to American food is: Ireland offers more healthy and fresh dietary options than America.