News Roundup: Tuesday 1.7.2014

As we settle into the new year, with much of our nation in a deep freeze, it's nice to know that we’re finding plenty of inspiring, “warming” stories out there. Good is being done in the world. Working towards a healthier self, population, and planet is happening everywhere. We’ll give you some updates on GMO’s, flame-retardants, the beef industry, global health, and the new and improved McDonald’s diet (to be read with a cynical eye for sure). Also, make sure to check out the video, and subsequent article about a couple who just finished running around Australia; it’s impressive! So, go on and be inspired … and be impressive, Warriors.

Words to Live By

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

—Anne Frank

Newest News

The Sensations of Emotions
We all know that our emotional state can directly affect our physical state, but is there some consistency with how our emotions affect our bodies?  Finnish researchers recently studied the locations of where people feel their emotions in their bodies by asking subjects to map the activity they felt in different parts of their body based on different stimuli. The results showed, among other things, that there was a strong correlation between all 701 body maps, even for people who spoke different languages. So, the chances are, if you and a friend are both happy, you’ll both be feeling it from head to toe.
Mapping How Emotions Manifest in the Body via the Atlantic
Cheerios, GMO’s, Hawaiian “No’s”, Here We Go
The biggest Big Food news of the week might be that General Mills has decided to make some Cheerios without GMO ingredients. Considering that the main ingredient is oats, which tend to be GMO free in the US, this is not gigantic news, but it is telling that consumers’ voices are being heard. And in New Hampshire, their legislature is debating a  bill to label GMOs in the state, proving that governments are working on this issue as well.
Amidst these fights, however, the USDA is proposing to lift some restrictions on GMO corn and soy and the Hawaiian bill to ban GMO crops is  creating some intra-partisan turmoil . As our friends at the Organic Consumer Association (OCA) explain below, 2014 is bound to be a big year for the GMO debate.
GMO and ‘Natural’ Food Fight: Treacherous Terrain via Organic Consumer Association 
The “natural” label on some foods does not exclude GMOs. If this is shocking to you, read more from the OCA and be a part of a petition demanding that the FDA take GMOs out of the “natural” label.
Tell the FDA: GMOs Aren't Natural via Organic Consumer Association


Obesity Goes Global
Everyone knows by now that we have an obesity epidemic in the U.S., but a recent study from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) shows that about ⅓ of the global population is obese. This is primarily due to the rise in meat, fat, and sugar consumption worldwide. You can download the full ODI publication below.
For a little pick me up, and some motivation to keep on working towards a healthier planet and self, check out the Leopold’s Center’s latest study on how local foods boost the regional economy and their success story about an urban farming class. There are Warriors out there like us who are making a difference and fighting for a healthier future.
Future Diets: A Publication via Overseas Development Institute


The Fast Food Frontline

Morgan Spurlock, Beware!
Super Size Me, the 2004 film by Morgan Spurlock, brought shame upon the fast-food world by showing the terrible effect fast food can have on the human body. Recently a teacher in Iowa decided that he would try to prove otherwise, by eating “sensibly” at McDonalds. The results? In 90 days, he actually lost 37 pounds! Now, please don’t think that we at WW are suggesting for a second that eating at McDonald’s is a healthy choice. There are, many caveats here: he only ate 2000 calories a day, he combined it with walking for 45 minutes to an hour a day and he is only basing his progress on weight loss (not cholesterol, brain chemistry, or happiness). Though fast-food proponents will tout this as proof that fast food can be “healthy,” at best it shows that exercise and caloric restriction can help someone lose pounds.
Watch the Video Here: McDonald's Diet Defies Conventional Wisdom of Fast Food via ABC News


Big Beef Gets Smaller?
Changes in beef are afoot; or should we say “ahoof”? Droughts in cattle-producing states and a national surplus of feed corn will probably cause the price of conventionally produced  beef to continue to increase over the next several months and stay high for the next several years.  Could we end up seeing American’s eating less red meat? Very likely. Stay tuned; this could be a really fascinating development in the way that our changing global climate is affecting human health through changes in our food system.
For other news on the cattle front, check out this Washington Monthly piece on the federal tax dollars that go towards the meat lobby and this fabulous and inspiring Ecocentric post about a small group of concerned Illinois citizens who successfully prevented a CAFO from being built.
Pricey Beef Is Set to Test Appetites via The Wall Street Journal


Fancy Fast Food Findings
The fast-food industry adeptly designs ways to make us consume their products, right down to the layout of their restaurants. But, what would happen if they changed the ambiance? Two professors at the University of Illinois did just that and found that customers ate 18% less food when they were in a nicer environment. So, the next time you go to a fast food joint, will you bring a tablecloth and cue up some soft jazz on your smart phone? Of course not, but what if the restaurants tried a little harder...
Fast Food Research Confirms Theory via Alton Daily News


Prevention News

Resolve, Resolve, Resolve
There is no dearth of advice out there on how to maintain your New Year’s resolutions: make it attainable, make your goals so they can be broken down into parts, work with a partner . . . A lot of these aphorism and admonitions can be helpful, but anecdotal evidence can only go so far. For those of us who like to “see the research,” this NY Times article compiles some of the latest research on behavioral economics and applies it to maintaining a resolution and achieving your goals. These tips may be just the ticket for you.
Also, for those of you with fitness goals, check out this Mother Nature Network article on fitness trackers and a Wall Street Journal review of a new personalized fitness app. 2014 is shaping up to be a year of more techy products integrated with personal fitness.
How to Keep Your Resolutions via NY Times
Furniture and Your Health
In big news for human/environmental health, lCalifornia, updated its furniture standards last November with Technical Bulletin 117-2013, making it no longer a requirement that flame retardants be used in household furniture. PBDEs and other flame retardants are known endocrine disruptors and show strong links to cancer. There is also evidence that they are ineffective at reducing fire risk.  As of January 1st, the new requirements were enacted and as California is often the leader in environmental standards, it seems possible that many states in the U.S. will follow suit. However, as this Huffington Post article points out, how do we dispose of furniture that is full of flame retardants? 
Flame-Retardant Furniture May Leave A Toxic Legacy via Huffington Post


What We're Watching

A Marathon a Day Keeps the Doctor Away?
For most of us, running one marathon in a lifetime would be an accomplishment. How about running 365, and how about doing that in a year? Not enough? How about doing it on an all raw and vegan diet. Not enough still? Then how about doing it when you’re over 60? What?! Jannette Murray-Wakelin, and Alan Murray, of Australia, just finished their year-long project of running around the continent of Australia for charity. This video was done before their embarkment, and the article below gives a brief synopsis of their completed journey, including their daily diet, which is impressive and fascinating to say the least. 
These grandparents ran 365 marathons in 2013 via Mother Nature Network


Wonderful Listening

Overnutrification and Meat
The age old conflict between feeding ourselves and keeping the planet healthy has never been more evident than in our current industrialized meat operations. This NPR piece does a great job of explaining how the separation of meat production from grain production and inefficient resource management work to pollute our waterways. It also explains how different stakeholders in this food system have very different needs, and offers some interesting solutions.
How Mass-Produced Meat Turned Phosphorus Into Pollution via NPR the Salt


Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Squash?
The winter is a great time for squash, in fact, we’re posting another squash recipe, but this one looks too good to pass up. This is a sweet take on the already sweet Acorn squash, that could go well as a side, a dessert or as a meal in and of itself. It also lends itself quite nicely to variations and opens up the fabulous world of stuffed squash.
Photo Credit: Simply Scratch 


Fruit and Nut Stuffed Acorn Squash

YIELD: 4 servings (or 8 if you feel like sharing!)
PREP TIME: 10 minutes
COOK TIME: 40-50 min.
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour approximately

  • 2 small Acorn Squash, cut in half horizontally
  • 6 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 small Granny Smith Apple
  • 1 small Honeycrisp Apple
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon Allspice
  • 2 pinch Sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped Walnuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped Pistachios, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup chopped Dried Cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon Poppy Seeds
  • Honey {for drizzling}


For the squash:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large glass baking dish add 4 tablespoons of butter. To melt the butter, just pop dish into the oven while it preheats.

Slice 1/8 of an inch off the bottoms of each squash half so they will sit flat (later on when on your plate).

Once the butter is melted, sprinkle the brown sugar evenly on the bottom of the pan. Lay the squash face down (with the “bottom” facing up) so the exposed flesh touches the brown sugar butter mixture in the pan. Bake in your preheated oven for 40-50 minutes or until knife pierces easily.

For the stuffing:

Meanwhile, in a 10-inch skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Once melted and hot, add in the diced apples. Sauté for 8-10 minutes until soft, but still firm and textured. Measure and add in the cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and a couple pinches of sea salt.

Remove stuffing mixture to a medium-sized bowl and add in the chopped walnuts, pistachios and cranberries. Measure and add in the vanilla extract and poppy seeds, toss together until well combined.

To serve:

Invert the baked squash onto a platter or individual plates. Spoon in some of the brown sugar and butter from the baking dish and drizzle it into the center and along the tops of the squash.

Fill the squash centers with the apple filling and top with more chopped pistachios and a drizzle of honey. Serve warm.

This recipe was developed for Simply Organic to feature their wonderful spices.

Fruit and Nut Stuffed Acorn Squash via Simply Scratch

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