Although Wilma Rudolph, the first American woman to win three gold medals in one Olympic Games, was a summer athlete, her words are just as true for the winter Olympics as they are for the rest of humanity. As Wellness Warriors, we have big dreams that our country can shift its wellness approach back to preventing illness rather than managing disease. Our power comes from the incredible dedication of people who are fighting for that cause. To that end, we’ve got some great news examples of people aspiring to greatness, including CVS taking cigarettes out of their stores, FoodBabe.com’s powerful use of research and social media to change a fast-food chain’s menu, and the story of a scientist who continued his research on the adverse effects of pesticides despite a big agribusiness firm trying to debunk his work. There’s plenty more news bits to inspire and motivate, so read on, and be well, Warriors!
Words to Live By
“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”
—Wilma Rudolph, U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist
CVS: Cigarettes Vanish Soon
Big news...and you probably saw it on the networks. But if you wish to dig deeper, read on about how CVS Caremark, the pharmacy chain, announced last week that it would stop selling tobacco products in its stores. The phase out will be complete by October, 2014. The release cited a recent Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) article that highlighted the paradox of pharmacies selling cancer causing tobacco products. We hope more pharmacy chains follow suit. Read the press release on the CVS Caremark sites, and a synopsis through the NY Times.
Farm Bill by the Numbers
With the Farm Bill’s passage last week, we’ve got a lot to learn. The folks at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) have done some of that work for us. This piece focuses on some of the main numbers (spending, programs cut, people affected) of the bill and how it may affect sustainability and agriculture. Of note, is $23 billion in cuts from previous Farm Bills, renewal of small funding (research and extension, speciality crops, energy, etc.), cuts to the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and other conservation programs, and $1.2 billion dedicated to funding innovation in alternative farming methods. NSAC promises to deliver more analysis in the coming weeks, so stayed tuned!
The Good Life Mag(Oz)ine
Dr. Memhet Oz, Oprah guest turned TV show host turned health and wellness icon, launched his lifestyle magazine, The Good Life
, this week. With a super-wide fan base (3.29 million twitter followers!), Dr. Oz is a powerful voice in the wellness movement. He and his wife are also doing great education and advocacy work against childhood obesity with their organization HealthCorps
(check out the blog
). Here’s a quick synopsis of the newest magazine venture and a link to an interview with Dr. Oz earlier last month.
Michael Pollan Stands Up for Farmworkers
Just in case you missed it a few weeks ago, Truth-Out ran a great interview with Michael Pollan on his latest crusade to achieve fair pay for farm workers. With the recent activism around fast food workers and minimum wage as well as the on going work of The Coalition of Immokalee Workers
(CIW) we are becoming more aware of the pitfalls of our food workers and the economic “dots” that need to be connected for our food system to change for the better. He makes some great points about the hidden externalities of our food prices, the irony of farm workers not being able to afford the food that they produce, and the incredible work of the CIW. As this issue gains more and more national traction, we at WW will be paying attention to where it is headed!
The Fast Food Frontline
Coke’s Newest Scheme to Reach into Our Pockets and Our Homes
There is no doubt to the tenacity of big soda companies to hawk their wares, and there is also no doubt about soda’s link to obesity and potential link to cancer. While we are fighting to remove this junk from our world, the Coca-Cola company has recently announced that it is joining Keurig to make a counter top soda dispenser that could sit in your own home and make you “fresh” soda whenever you want.
Food Safety Progress, Food Safety Recalls
Our friends at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)recently reported on the progress of the 2011 Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA). Though some of the provisions of FSMA have been criticized for hurting small, local farmers, it is generally accepted that giving the FDA more power over food safety regulations is a good thing. We learned this week first hand why food safety regulation and oversight in the meat industry is especially needed. A company out of California is now recalling almost 9 million pounds of its beef because some meat was diseased and it did not have proper federal inspection. Hopefully, the final provisions of FSMA that are still being worked out will do better to support local farmers and prevent big beef companies from dodging inspections.
The Dangers of Our Sweet Hearts
With Valentine’s day coming we might be thinking about our sweethearts, but it turns out that sweets and hearts don’t mix that well. A recent collaborative study out of the CDC, Emory University, and Harvard found that those Americans who consumed more sugar were more likely to die of cardiovascular disease. They controlled for a number of other health risk factors and found that people who consume 25% or more of their calories through sugar were 50% more likely to die from cardiovascular related disease. Check out the NY Times link for a short synopsis and the NPR link for a longer version. If you are looking for ways to get sugar out of your diet, check out the helpful hints from Dr. Oz. We’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention Dr. Weil's anti-inflammatory diet which has us avoiding sugar and adding all kinds of wonderful foods to our daily fare.
Changing Behavior to Change Cancer
The 2014 World Cancer Report was recently published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IACR) and the experts agree that though we have a strong understanding of behaviors that increase cancer risk, very little is being done to curtail them. The list of habits include smoking, alcohol consumption, and of course, diet, obesity, and lack of physical activity. Dr. William Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health, makes the point, “Control of overweight and obesity must be a high priority for cancer prevention," citing soda taxation laws that have reduced levels of obesity in some places. Reports like these often paint things in a gloomy light, but as Dr. Willett suggests, there are plenty of measure that we can take on the personal and political stage that could help change the health of our nation.
What We're Watching
FoodBabe Wins Again
Change can happen quickly! Last Thursday we posted a link to the FoodBabe.com petition demanding that Subway remove azodicarbonamide from their bread in the U.S. (they have already done this in Europe). Launched on Tuesday, by Wednesday it had 50,000 signatures, countless social media challenges to Subway and a public statement from Subway saying that will take the chemical out of their bread. Though the turn around on this was phenomenal, we don’t want to discredit the over two years of work that Vani Hari put into this issue. FoodBabe is also responsible for a petition that persuaded Kraft to stop using yellow #5 in its “Mac n’ Cheese” back in October. We celebrate the efforts of FoodBabe! Check out the video below and read up a little more at FoodBabe.com and the Huffington Post article. It’s inspiring to know that changing our food system can and will happen with people like this out in the world!
Syngenta’s Quest to Silence Atrazine Research
Our friends at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) have long been warning us about the exposure risk of atrazine, a chemical herbicide used for farming in the US, and have included it in their list of Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors. It has been known to cause sex changes in frogs and linked to a number of adverse effects in research lab tests. One such researcher, Tyrone Hayes, has researched these effects for over 15 years. He has also become the target of atrazine manufacturer Syngenta, who spied on him and worked to discredit his work. It is incredible and disturbing, the lengths to which agribusiness will go to protect their bottom line without regard to human or environmental health. Take a listen to the NPR piece below and read The New Yorker article by Rachel Aviv who brought this story to light.
Beets and Woks
This ingenious little recipe is a stir fry centered around beets and beet greens. Its veritable (and unusual!) melange of flavors is delicious. So heat up your wok and get cooking! You won’t be disappointed.
Stir-Fried Rice Noodles With Beets and Beet Greens
Total time: About 12 minutes, plus 20 to 30 minutes soaking time for the noodles
- 7 ounces rice vermicelli or thin rice stick noodles
- 1/2 cup chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (more to taste)
- 1 tablespoon Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or 1 to 2 serrano or Thai chiles, minced
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil or canola oil
- 4 small or 2 medium beets (1/2 pound), preferably golden or Chioggia beets, peeled and very thinly sliced, then cut into half-moons
- 2 medium-size leeks, white and light green parts only, cut in half, cleaned of sand, and thinly sliced
- 1 generous bunch beet greens, stemmed, washed well in 2 changes of water, and coarsely chopped or cut in ribbons
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 to 1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
- 2 teaspoons walnut oil
1. Place noodles in a large bowl and cover with warm water. Soak for 20 – 30 minutes, until soft. Drain in a colander and using kitchen scissors, cut into 6-inch lengths. Set aside within reach of your wok. Combine stock, soy sauce, rice wine or sherry, salt and sugar in a small bowl and stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Combine garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes or minced chile in another bowl. Have all ingredients within reach of your wok.
2. Beat eggs in a bowl and season with a little salt. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within a second or two when added to the pan. Swirl in 2 teaspoons of oil by adding it to the sides of the wok and swirling the wok. Make sure that the bottom of the wok is coated with oil and add beaten eggs, swirling the wok so that the eggs form a thin pancake. Cook 30 seconds to a minute, until set. Using a spatula, turn pancake over and cook for 5 to 10 more seconds, until thoroughly set, then transfer to a plate or cutting board. Roll up or fold in half and cut into strips using the edge of your spatula or a knife. Set aside.
3. Swirl remaining oil into wok and add garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes or chile. Stir-fry no more than 10 seconds and add beets and leeks. Stir-fry 2 minutes, until beets are crisp-tender. Add greens and walnuts and stir-fry until greens wilt, about 1 minute. Add noodles and stock mixture. Reduce heat to medium and stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes, until noodles are just tender. Add cilantro and eggs and stir-fry another 30 seconds to a minute, until well combined. Remove from heat and serve.
Yield: Serves 4 to 5
Advance preparation: All of the ingredients can be prepared hours ahead, and the noodles can be soaked hours or even a day ahead. The stir-frying should be done just before you wish to serve but the leftovers are delicious; they will keep for about 3 days in the refrigerator.