The Superbowl is over, the Winter Olympics are about to start, and the spirit of champions is in the air … so we’ve combed the web and pulled out the latest news on some of our champions. Folks are out there fighting for foods’ nutritional value and purity, the health of our environment, our connection to nature, the health of their communities, and more. We’ve found some great news bits from Marion Nestle, Walter Willett, Richard Louv, Alice Waters, and Mark Bittman, to name a few. Also, check out the Food Democracy Now! letter writing campaign to help stand up against the big food and agribusiness plan to co-opt food labeling. Read on, Warriors. There’s a world of important stuff happening out there for our wellness, and we’re here to tell you about it!
Words to Live By
“Being generous of spirit is a wonderful way to live.”
— Pete Seeger
You Say Potato, I say WIC Package
White potatoes are better known for their starch than their nutritional value. On the hunt for federal tax dollars, the potato lobby would have you think otherwise. The federal WIC program is designed to help low-income mothers, infants, and children (a population at risk for not getting proper nutrition) access healthy food, and since 2009 WIC benefits have not included the white potato. The logic is straightforward. A 2005 Institute of Medicine study found that people who were eligible for WIC were already getting enough potatoes without federal assistance. Hence, it only makes sense that WIC packages include foods to which participants may not otherwise have access. Marion Nestle explains how the potato industry has used its lobbying power to change the WIC program in their favor. It’s an infuriating story (fraught with very questionable potato science) of an already powerful industry exploiting those in need to make a profit.
Changing the Landscape (and the tablescape) of Nutrition
Walter Willet, nutritionist extraordinaire and Wellness Warrior favorite has recently been honored with the Bloomberg Manulife prize to highlight his powerful and influential work in nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Check out his recent CTV interview where he talks about the dangers of “low-fat” and the myth about drinking milk. Willet is a powerful voice in the fight for wellness and we are happy to see his work be honored.
Disconnect to Connect
This past Saturday the Florida Hospital for Children hosted the event “No App for That,” a seminar to help parents encourage their children to get outside. Wellness Warrior favorite, San Diegan Richard Louv, author of the national bestseller Last Child Left in the Woods
and the more recent The Nature Principle
, headlined the event with Chad Crawford, host of the TV show “How to do Florida.” We’re thrilled to see this event and hope to see more like them in the future. We know that being outside and staying connected to nature is of the utmost importance for wellness, for children and for adults. For more on Richard Louv, check out his Children and Nature Network
Keep up the GMO Fight!
The Fast Food Frontline
The Happ(ier) Meal
Thanks to the great folks at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and a host of other supporters, McDonald’s has agreed to drop soda as an option for its happy meals. It’s a small victory, but an important one, and the CSPI is continuing to pressure fast-food chains to give healthier options and stop contributing to the obesity epidemic.
A Navajo “No” to Junk Food
Highlighting a trend in levying taxes on products that are unhealthy, The Navajo Nation’s tribal council voted to tax junk food that enters their community and get rid of taxes on alternative, healthier foods. Members of the council feel that this is a positive step in improving the health of the Navajo nation. On a similar note, advisors in Memphis, TN, recently suggested a "sin tax"
that could be applied to alcohol, cigarettes and fast-food. NYC Mayor Bloomberg and his soda tax
supporters would be proud and it seems that the idea of legislating consumption of unhealthy food is more prominent than ever before.
Cancerasana: Yoga Helps Breast Cancer Survivors
We’ve known that yoga can be a powerful mitigator of many different ailments for a long time, but a new study out of the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center found some encouraging news for breast cancer survivors. 200 women who successfully completed breast cancer treatment and who never before had done yoga were recruited for this largest biologically measured study on the health benefits of yoga. Researchers discovered that practicing yoga twice a week for twelve weeks lowered fatigue by as much as 57% and inflammation as much as 20% for as long as at least 6 months. Its great news for breast cancer survivors and we can extrapolate that yoga is giving fantastic benefits to all practitioners as well.
We found this link through a tweet via Dr, Andrew Weil, health guru and anti-inflammation revolutionary. If you aren’t following him, it may be time to start. Check out more at Dr. Weil.com
It’s Never Too Late To Start
We’re sure that many of you out there, like us, occasionally fall into wishing that we had started taking care of our health earlier in life. Well, a recent study will encourage you to put aside the regret and “why start now?” excuse because you can benefit from exercise no matter when in your life you start. The study, which tracked almost 3,500 middle-aged to elderly men, uncovered that people who exercised their whole lives aged the most successfully, but those that started exercising in middle-age had a very comparable low-incidence rate of major chronic disease, memory loss, and physical disability. It also showed that both of those groups lived longer with fewer health problems. The curative powers of exercise don’t discriminate by age, it seems!
What We're Watching
A Snippet of Inspiration
Alice Waters was a vital part of creating the sustainable food movement and she still remains very active today. We are huge fans of The Edible Schoolyard Project
, the Chez Panisse Foundation
and the myriad other initiatives of which she has been a vital part. This little clip, where she talks about starting her restaurant Chez Panisse in the ’70s, highlights her passion and common-sense approach to giving vitality to the local food movement. Read a little more about the full documentary, called TheSource, at the T magazine link below, and get inspired!
Predictors for Childhood Obesity?
"Adopting wellness needs to happen all together as a family"
- Dr. Esther Krych, Pediatrician, Mayo Clinic Children's Center
Two interesting studies emerged over the past few weeks highlighting potential predictors for childhood obesity, and avenues through which it could be prevented. Most recently, a study showed that children who were obese in kindergarten were four times as likely to be obese in 5th grade. Check out the original New England Journal of Medicine article
and the Huffington Post synopsis
. Below, take a listen to this NPR piece on a Yale School of Medicine study about mother’s eating habits and appetite regulation in newborns. It’s very preliminary, because the study is based on mice, but the outcomes showed that mothers who ate higher fat diets bore offspring who were missing neurons that regulate hunger and the feeling of satiation. We know that we can have a large influence over the eating habits of our kids, and this is just further evidence showing the importance of education.
Quinoa with a Qrunch
The quinoa (keen-wa) craze is upon us, and Mark Bittman has created a new take on this healthy, protein-packed seed. Its great for adding a crunch to a salad, an addition to trail mix, or just a healthy snack by itself. Check out the variations on the bottom to adjust the recipe for the occasion. If you’re interested in more of Mark Bittman’s thoughts for the week, check out his news roundup
Smoky Quinoa Crumbs
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1. Heat the oven to 375. Put the quinoa and a large pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Add water, and cover the quinoa by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil, and then adjust the heat so that the mixture bubbles gently. Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the quinoa is tender and the water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. If any water remains in the pot, strain it off.
2. Spread the quinoa on a large rimmed baking sheet, using your hands to break up any clumps. Sprinkle with salt and the smoked paprika. Toss to combine, and spread the quinoa into as even a layer as possible.
3. Bake, tossing once or twice with a spatula, until the grains dry out and become crisp, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want them. Use immediately, or cool completely and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.