News Roundup: Tuesday 2.18.2014

Yesterday was George Washington’s birthday, and it only takes a brief look at some of his most famous quotations to remember that our nation was founded on the ideals of profound revolution and change. We’ve done it before, and we can do it again, Warriors! This time we’re fighting for our health and wellness and we’re including everyone! So, read on to get inspired and fired up! We’ve got some interesting stuff about sweeteners (which were all over the news last week), environmental health, GMO’s, litigation, and changes for some Big Food players, the power of meditation, and a whole bunch more. Let’s keep on working towards the revolution called Prevention!

Words to Live By

“The basis of our political system is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.”

— George Washington

Newest News

News So Sweet
The ubiquity of sugar (and other sweeteners) in our food can’t be denied, and this week, it was all over the news as well. In short, while the sweetener industry is fighting over which trade group could be more corrupt, law makers and researchers are fighting for ways to decrease sugar consumption.
First, and perhaps most abhorrent, continued hearings in a 2011 lawsuit between the Sugar Association and the Corn Refiners Association (corn syrup makers) has brought to light that both industries were secretly funding academics and nonprofits to work in their favor to disparagetheir respective competitor. (Read Marion Nestle’s account of her begrudging involvement  in the whole ordeal). We know that the sweetener business is a dirty one, on many accounts, and this is just another glimpse of the truth.
In some hopeful news, a proposed California bill (SB1000 by state senator Bill Monning) requires soda and other sugary drinks to carry a warning label for obesity, Type II diabetes, and tooth decay. Still in its fledgling stages, it has the backing of many health advocacy groups.
Lastly, on a similar policy note, a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health showed -- through economic models -- that sugar sweetened beverage taxes would create an increase in jobs and overall employment in California and Illinois. Read the abstract below, or the full article here.


Air Pollution, Agricultural Work, and Health
Two articles this week highlighted the fact that our health is inextricably linked to the environment, and the way that we treat our natural resources. First, the folks at Moms Clean Air Force wrote an excellent explanation of the connection between air quality and heart health. If you’ve ever wanted clear talking points about how climate change is connected to your health, then look no further (download the PDF version here).
In related news, the Center for Public Integrity clued us into a new Centers for Disease Control and Preventing study on a deadly chronic kidney disease that is overwhelmingly affecting South American agricultural workers, primarily in sugarcane, as well as their counterparts in Southeast Asia.The sugar industry once again rears its ugly head (see post above) as one of the financiers of the study, but CDC claims it is confident that its research will be unbiased. We will be very interested to see the outcome of the study (and an analysis of Big Sugar’s influence).
CDC launches industry-financed studies of deadly kidney disease in Central America via Center For Public Integrity


Oz on GMOs
Dr. Memhet Oz weighed in on the GMO debate last week, with a special guest, Scott Faber, vice president of the Environmental Working Group. Dr. Oz gives a great quick overview of GMOs and the GMO debate and pays particular attention to the dangers pesticides and herbicides (check out our “GET INVOLVED” section to see what you can do about this). Mr. Faber explains the problems with the Grocery Manufacturers Association lobby to label GMO foods as natural, the cost of GMO labeling, and the importance of giving people the right to decide which foods they prefer. Check out the video posted below and then watch the next in the sequence.
While you’re at it, check out the Environmental Working Group’s latest blog post on the benefits of buying organic (Mr. Faber explains in the video buying organic is currently the only way to be sure that you are not buying GMOs).
No to GMOs: The Global Conspiracy to Keep You From Knowing the Truth About Your Food via Dr.
The Case For Organic Fruits And Veggies via Environmental Working Group


Get Involved

2,4-D is Not for Me
Pesticides can causes serious health problems (see the Dr. Oz videos above). A couple of weeks ago, we learned about Dow Chemical’s plan to release GMO corn and soy that is resistant to 2,4-D,  a derivative of “Agent Orange.” The Center for Food Safety’s latest campaign “D.O.W: Destroying Our World” is in full swing. Check out their parody video and sign a petition to the USDA and President Obama to help stop it!


Take the Bill by the Horns: Steer Farm Bill Implementation in the Right Direction
The Union of Concerned Scientists recently pointed out some of the great steps forward of the new Farm Bill, but adamantly proposes that there is a lot more work to be done. Their latest campaign centers on lobbying Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack to use his influence in implementing the new Farm Bill to move our food system in a more positive direction.
Tell USDA Secretary Vilsack: Prioritize Healthy Food via The Union of Concerned Scientists


The Fast Food Frontline

Chick-Fil-A (the “A” is no longer for “Antibiotics”)
Following in the footsteps of Subway, another fast food restaurant has announced that it will be taking something out of its food. Chick-fil-a will be phasing out antibiotic-treated chicken in the next five years to keep up with consumer demand for meat that will not contribute to the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Food blogger Vani Hari was once again a powerful agent in the fast food company’s decision. Though we recognize that this is a tiny step in making fast food healthier and safer (will it ever be truly healthy or safe?), we are encouraged, for the moment!
Fast-Food and the Olympics: It’s Just Too Much!
If you’ve been watching the Olympics, then you may be as concerned as we are that McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and a number of other junk food companies are trying to use advertising to convince Americans that their products are associated with some of the greatest athletes in the world. Though Olympic athlete’s diets can vary greatly, none of them are reaching for a twenty piece Mcnuggets before, or after, their workouts (many of which, by the way, include yoga!). This great opinion piece by a registered dietitian and mother sums up our feelings and gives some tips for reframing the advertising so your kids don’t get the wrong idea.


Litigation Against the Fast Food Nation
This week we learned about a class action lawsuit against supermarket giant Kroger. The store claimed that their Perdue chicken was raised in a “humane” environment. This is not the first litigation attempt on false advertising for chicken and it most likely won’t be the last. We found a Politico article that points out a growing trend amongst law firms and cities that are exploring class-action lawsuits against food companies. The logic is based primarily on budget deficits that can be linked to Medicaid costs, which of course can, in part, be related to the unhealthy and addictive food that many food companies are pedaling. A big group of people standing up to big corporations for the health of our nation? We’re in!


Prevention News

The Business of Meditation
This weekend’s Wisdom 2.0 conference, along with Arianna Huffington’s Third Metric Events are two examples of an emerging trend in the high tech business world of people learning to connect to one another and themselves amidst the electronic crush. Meditation seems to be a tool that many folks are using to help them operate at a higher level, which a new study suggests is a scientifically verifiable option. Read about it below and then check out the great anecdotes about high powered business executives washing stress away by tapping into a meditative stillness. Along the same lines, take a moment to read what Mrs. Huffington has to say about getting sleep and working hard.


The Guts of Your Health
Do you tend to get sick a lot? You may be having digestion issues. We are just beginning to understand how important our guts are for overall health, and the more we learn, the important it seems. Dr. Weil chimes in with a quick health tip about probiotics. Check it out and consider if you might benefit from bolstering your bowels!
How Healthy is Your Gut? via Dr.


What We're Watching

Cooking and Cartoons
Michael Pollan continues to be one of the great voices in our modern fight for health and wellness. This video uses his voice and some impressive animation to illustrate his view on nutrition and healthy eating. Simply put, he says, just eat things that are made by human hands (and not by food corporations), though its a lot more nuanced than that. This fun-to-watch, 2-and-a-half-minute video is chock full of good information.
Eating & Cooking via Notions Capital


Wonderful Listening

Happiness is The TED Radio Hour
The Ted Radio Hour enthralls us. This week’s episode centered around happiness and gives six different takes on happiness; what it is, how it happens, what it takes to get to it, and many more ruminations. Take a listen to just one, or all six. They are all fascinating and will hopefully bring more joy into your day.
Simply Happy via The TED Radio Hour


Making Pasta Fun(gi)
Mushrooms are often heralded as the meat of the vegan world. This Kingdom of biota is wide and vast, touted for their health benefits and how ‘shrooms add an undeniably earthy and delicious depth to a meal. Unless you are a die-hard meat fanatic, this sauce makes an excellent vegetarian alternative to your traditional pasta topping. Check out two more mushroom based recipes at the Center for Science in the Public Interest link below.
Mushroom Ragù
Photo credit: CSPI

Serves: 4
Total time: 45 minutes

  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1.5 lb cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 15 oz. can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 10 oz. fresh or frozen spinach
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt


In a large, heavy pot or deep skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the carrots and celery and sauté until lightly browned, about 3 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and garlic and stir until the mushrooms release their juices, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the thyme, tomatoes, and 1 cup of water. Simmer until the mushrooms are tender and the sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the spinach and heat through. Season with pepper and up to ½ tsp. of salt.

'Shroom Service via Center for Science in the Public Interest

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