News Roundup: Thursday 3.27.2014

As spring continues to slowly wake up, this Rachel Carson quote (found via Richard Louv’s twitter account) offers inspiration and wisdom to move our cause forward. With the growth of the Wellness Warrior movement, this spring is most certainly not going to be silent as we continue to raise our voices and fight for the health of ourselves and our planet. This week we’ve found some great stuff about the UN World Water Day and the UN International Day of happiness (a busy week for the UN!), more good news about the fight against Big food,  new research on fat in our diets, a fascinating (and appalling) story of trickery from a big sugary beverage producer, and a lot more. Have a great week, Warriors!

Words to Live By

“Why should we tolerate a diet of weak poisons, a home in insipid surroundings, a circle of acquaintances who are not quite our enemies, the noise of motors with just enough relief to prevent insanity? Who would want to live in a world which is just not quite fatal?”

— Rachel Carson

Newest News

Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink
There is nothing more important to our health than water, and clean water is a reality that so many people in the world don’t have. Saturday was UN World Water Day, a time to think about the power of clean drinking water, and the perfect time to do something about it (see our Get Involved section to learn how!). We compiled a few of our favorite pieces written for World Water Day, so read on to learn more about amazing sustainable innovations for water in agriculture, water insecurity and global conflict the Take Back the Tap initiative and the amazing and always topical Story of Stuff archive piece on bottled water.


Happiness is Healing
March 20th was the UN’s International Day of Happiness, a time to consider what’s really important in life (hint: It’s not stuff or money). Being happy, of course, is an integral part of being healthy so, as Wellness Warriors, we are all about it. This CNN article delves into the inner workings of happiness, how traits that keep us happy also keep us healthy, how age and money affect happiness, how our genes have a say in our happiness, and the latest science on that most sought after emotion. For more inspiration to be happy, check out the UN International Day of Happiness happiness wall, this Arianna Huffington video on her Third Metric, and this iconic, recently release Oprah interview with Eckhart Tolle. Happiness abounds, folks!
Why happiness is healthy via CNN


One Macronutrient Does Not a Heart Attack Make
A new meta analysis study is questioning what we know about fat. Looking at a slew of studies on diets, researchers out of Cambridge found that except in the case of trans fats (yep, those guys are still the super bad ones)  the type of fat (saturated, unsaturated, Omega 3’s...) consumed was not necessarily a good predictor of heart disease. Some of the researchers were quick to point out that the study is not saying that you should go out and eat as much of whatever kind of fatty foods you want. Rather, it implies that “the single macronutrient approach is outdated” and that it’s time we start thinking about our bodies, the food that we put into them, as whole systems that react in concert to our habits.  The Economist article gives a nice summary and the N.Y. Times piece goes a little more in depth.
Fat chance via The Economist
Study Questions Fat and Heart Disease Link via NY Times


Get Involved

Working Towards World Water Wealth
World Water Day reminds us of what a huge issue clean water is for our planet. Luckily we can do plenty about it. Check out some of our favorite charities below, and for more inspiration check out the Goodnet article for even more great water organizations.


The Fast Food Frontline

FLOTUS v. Food
Big Food was on its heels this week, something that we are always interested to see! More news emerged about the follies of GMOs and corn rootworm. In a hopeful move from Congress, 67 representatives stood up to new poultry inspection regulations. A recent IA “ag-gag” law was challenged by an array of food and justice champions. And who emerged as one of the faces in this movement? Michelle Obama. The First Lady is making headlines a lot these days for tackling food issues, and she is doing a lot of good with a pretty simple pro-fruit and -vegetable campaign. This essay by famed ag reporter, Jerry Hagstrom explains how the Obama administration is shaping our food system for the better.
First Lady Has Food Industry in a Frenzy via The National Journal


Pepsico Partner’s Prevarication
We know that Big Food and Big Beverage companies are often involved in shady business, but it is not all that often that we catch them in the act. This week, author, lawyer and food activist Michele Simon of Eat Drink Politics did just that! She walks us through the tricky press release language of Senomyx, a chemical sweetener and flavor developer (and Pepsico partner), that confused journalists and investors alike. Semonyx’s trickery hinged on a claim that the FDA determined one of the company’s newly developed sweeteners to be generally recognized as safe (GRAS). It turns out that the FDA does not make claims like that, in fact, it’s the companies themselves that give GRAS determinations regarding their products (hmmm, does this seem like a problem to anyone else?). Read Simon’s expert commentary and learn more about the ripple effects that this big food company’s false claims had on our news outlets and economy.


Prevention News

Teaching Healthy Eating to Kids
We know that eating healthy can be a big struggle for ourselves, and passing that on to our children can be an even more difficult task. Food Tank writers Danielle Nierenberg and Sarah Small offer ten tips (along with some great suggestions about how to accomplish them) on how to make healthy food a part of our children’s lives. On a similar note, reacting to a recent study that showed aversions to foods may be heritable traits, this Washington Post article suggests things you can do at the table to try to encourage healthy eating.


What We're Watching

Play Your Way to Permaculture
We’re still jazzed about the Permaculture Voices conference the week before last, and we’ll keep you posted on any videos that emerge from the event. In the meantime, if you are looking to learn more about Permaculture, try a game of cards. These playing cards are delightful and chock full of great information. This kickstarter is over, but, if you like what you see, it was fully funded, so you can buy these cards online.
Permaculture Playing Cards via Kickstarter


Wonderful Listening

Green Divas and Ken Cook
Ken Cook is one of our heroes. He and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) have been at the forefront of fighting for the health of our nation for years now. The Green Divas got the opportunity to interview Mr. Cook this week on their weekly radio show. You’ll hear tons of good stuff in this hour long show, but if you are in a time crunch, then jump in around 39:15 to hear the specific Cook segment regarding toxins in the environment and the great work of EWG.


A Bean Salad for the Spring
Spring is in the air, and bright, light salads help remind us that things will continue to blossom and grow. This versatile 101 Cookbooks recipe is perfect for a side dish, on its own, as a meal, or even as a soup.
Giant Lemon Fennel Beans
Photo credit: 101 Cookbooks

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4


  • 4-5 small fennel bulbs
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • Half a lemon, scrubbed and sliced or cut into wedges
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups cooked white beans (corona, cannellini, etc)
  • 1/2 cup water (or reserved liquid from cooking the beans)
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped dill


To prep the fennel, remove each bulb's tough outermost layer. Trim each bulb's base, and slice along the length into 1/2-inch thick wedges.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. When the oil starts to ripple and move away from the center of the pan, add the fennel. Scatter the wedges across the surface of the pan rather than gathering them into a clump, and let them sit without stirring until the sides touching the pan caramelize and brown a bit, roughly 2 minutes or so. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes or so, until the fennel has cooked through. Add the honey, lemon, salt, and wine to the pan, stirring to combine. Let the wine heat and reduce for a minute or so before adding the beans and water. Cook until the beans are warmed through, about 5 minutes.

These beans are good at just about any temp — hot, warm, or at room temperature. Serve topped with a big handful of chopped dill and a drizzle of your best olive oil.

Giant Lemon Fennel Beans Recipe via 101 Cookbooks

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