I've lived in South Dakota for more than 30 years and I can honestly tell you that the food scene in and around the Mount Rushmore State is the best it has ever been.

Chef Guy Fieri's recent visit to the state for his Food Network TV show Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives confirmed that.

Nation recognition like that apparently means nothing to the folks at BestLife, who just released their rankings of the states with the best and worst food in America and South Dakota is in the bottom ten at 45th overall.

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To determine an overall score on their 'Food Fail Index', the website looked at a trio of key factors:

  • Appeal and diversity of the restaurant scene
  • Sustainability and popularity of locally grown produce and meat
  • Ease of accessing healthy, affordable food

South Dakota's restaurant scene didn't fare well at all. The travel website Far and Wide had the state second from the bottom nationally, although their critique of the food in South Dakota mentioned Rocky Mountain Oysters, which, last time I checked, weren't exactly the featured item on the menus of most area eateries.

It makes me wonder if anyone from the website actually ever set foot in the Mount Rushmore State, or if they did, did they manage to make it to more than one place?

South Dakota did score much better in the locally grown category, coming in at 37th out of 50.  Our ever-improving farmer's market scene no doubt helped in the Strolling of the Heifer ranking on their Locavore Index.

The other metric was generated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which used adult obesity rates in each state to determine things like wealth inequality and food insecurity, reasoning that the higher the obesity rate, the less access to healthy food. The numbers show that a third of South Dakota residents are considered obese, which is 23rd best in America.

On the bad list, Oklahoma was the only state to register 100 on the Food Fail Index'. Conversely, California was the only state to check-in with a perfect score of zero.

STATES WITH THE WORST FOOD IN AMERICA (BestLife)

  1. Oklahoma
  2. West Virginia
  3. Kansas
  4. Mississippi
  5. Nebraska
  6. South Dakota
  7. Alabama
  8. Arkansas
  9. Iowa
  10. Alaska

STATES WITH THE BEST FOOD IN AMERICA (BestLife)

  1. California
  2. Hawaii
  3. Washington
  4. Oregon
  5. New York
  6. New Jersey
  7. Vermont
  8. Maine
  9. Colorado
  10. Massachusetts

Which restaurants do you think really help define the vastly improved South Dakota dining scene?

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