Wednesday, October 30, 2013

14 Reasons to Be Hopeful About the Future of Food

When it comes to the future of the food system, it’s hard not to be discouraged. Nearly one billion people are hungry, and another 1.5 billion are obese or overweight. All over the world, people waste 1.3 billion tons of food each year. And according to the International Panel on Climate Change, humans are to blame for an increasingly hot, dry and natural disaster-prone planet.

But Food Tank has compiled a list of 14 reasons to be hopeful about the future of the food system. Share these with your networks to spread the message that the food system is changing for the better.

1. The next generation is learning more about where their food comes from than their parents did.

In the U.S., initiatives like The Kitchen CommunityThe Edible Schoolyard ProjectThe Sylvia Center and The FARM Institute are getting kids involved in learning about food from farm to fork. In Costa Rica, young people are learning integrated farming and natural resource management at EARTH University. In Uganda, the Forum for Sustainable Agriculture in Africa and Project DISC are teaching youth about sustainable farming. In Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Thailand and the Philippines, the World Vegetable Center (AVRDC) is implementing teaching gardens for elementary school students.

2. Food for public school lunches is coming from more sustainable sources.

School meals are a common public food service implemented across the world. Many countries have implemented reforms to improve the nutritional quality of school meals by seeking out more sustainable sources for the students’ food. In Brazil, for instance, at least 30 percent of food for school meals must be purchased locally from smallholder farmers.

3. More food waste is being composted.

On average, all of the member states of the European Union composted 15 percent of municipal waste in 2011—in the Netherlands, the proportion of waste composted was more than twice the average. In the U.S., San Francisco has undertaken widespread public composting and recycling programs, and now manages to divert 78 percent of its waste from landfills.

4. Permaculture projects are thriving all over the world.
Smallholder and family farmers stand to gain higher, more nutritious and more sustainable yields from permaculture practices—and so can individuals and families simply growing produce in their backyards. Today, there are an estimated 850,000 grassroots permaculture projects in 160 countries, according to the Permaculture Research Institute in Australia.

5. In one of the most obese countries in the world, obesity is on the decline for low-income children.

Recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that in more than half of the U.S.—two-thirds the states and territories surveyed—low-income children between the ages of two and four exhibit lower rates of overweight and obesity than they did just three years ago. In six of the states and territories surveyed, the rate of decrease exceeded a full percentage point.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Early Death Comes From Drinking Distilled Water

SOURCE: REAL farmacy

by Zoltan P. Rona MD MSc

During nearly 19 years of clinical practice I have had the opportunity to observe the health effects of drinking different types of water. Most of you would agree that drinking unfiltered tap water could be hazardous to your health because of things like:
  • parasites
  • chlorine
  • fluoride
  • dioxins

Many health fanatics, however, are often surprised to hear me say that drinking distilled water on a regular, daily basis is potentially dangerous.

Paavo Airola wrote about the dangers of distilled water in the 1970′s when it first became a fad with the health food crowd.

Distillation is the process in which water is boiled, evaporated and the vapour condensed. Distilled water is free of dissolved minerals and, because of this, has the special property of being able to actively absorb toxic substances from the body and eliminate them. Studies validate the benefits of drinking distilled water when one is seeking to cleanse or detoxify the system for short periods of time (a few weeks at a time).

Fasting using distilled water can be dangerous because of the rapid loss of electrolytes (sodium, potassium, chloride) and trace minerals like magnesium, deficiencies of which can cause heart beat irregularities and high blood pressure. Cooking foods in distilled water pulls the minerals out of them and lowers their nutrient value.

Distilled water is an active absorber and when it comes into contact with air, it absorbs carbon dioxide, making it acidic. The more distilled water a person drinks, the higher the body acidity becomes.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Distilled water, being essentially mineral-free, is very aggressive, in that it tends to dissolve substances with which it is in contact. Notably, carbon dioxide from the air is rapidly absorbed, making the water acidic and even more aggressive. Many metals are dissolved by distilled water.”

The most toxic commercial beverages that people consume (i.e. cola beverages and other soft drinks) are made from distilled water. Studies have consistently shown that heavy consumers of soft drinks (with or without sugar) spill huge amounts of calcium, magnesium and other trace minerals into the urine.

The more mineral loss, the greater the risk for osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, hypothyroidism, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and a long list of degenerative diseases generally associated with premature aging.

A growing number of health care practitioners and scientists from around the world have been advocating the theory that aging and disease is the direct result of the accumulation of acid waste products in the body.

There is a great deal of scientific documentation that supports such a theory. A poor diet may be partially to blame for the waste accumulation.
These and other junk foods can cause the body to become more acidic:
  • meats
  • sugar
  • alcohol
  • fried foods
  • soft drinks
  • processed foods
  • white flour products
  • dairy products

Stress, whether mental or physical can lead to acid deposits in the body.

There is a correlation between the consumption of soft water (distilled water is extremely soft) and the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Cells, tissues and organs do not like to be dipped in acid and will do anything to buffer this acidity including the removal of minerals from the skeleton and the manufacture of bicarbonate in the blood.

The longer one drinks distilled water, the more likely the development of mineral deficiencies and an acid state.

I have done well over 3000 mineral evaluations using a combination of blood, urine and hair tests in my practice. Almost without exception, people who consume distilled water exclusively, eventually develop multiple mineral deficiencies.

Those who supplement their distilled water intake with trace minerals are not as deficient but still not as adequately nourished in minerals as their non-distilled water drinking counterparts even after several years of mineral supplementation.

The ideal water for the human body should be slightly alkaline and this requires the presence of minerals like
  • calcium
  • magnesium
Distilled water tends to be acidic and can only be recommended as a way of drawing poisons out of the body. Once this is accomplished, the continued drinking of distilled water is a bad idea.

Water filtered through reverse osmosis tends to be neutral and is acceptable for regular use provided minerals are supplemented.

Water filtered through a solid charcoal filter is slightly alkaline. Ozonation of this charcoal filtered water is ideal for daily drinking. Longevity is associated with the regular consumption of hard water (high in minerals). Disease and early death is more likely to be seen with the long term drinking of distilled water.

Avoid it except in special circumstances.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Socially Acceptable Appearance

I’m funny looking, you’re funny looking

Back by popular demand....
by Frank Forencich on March 6, 2013

Sports commentators sometimes tell us that “every athlete dies twice.” The first death comes when injury forces the star into retirement, the second comes some years later when his heart beats for the last time. But it’s not just athletes who suffer two deaths in a single lifespan; the same might well be said for the vast majority of sedentary Americans.

In this sense, the first death comes in middle school, when we begin to feel social exposure and the weight of social judgment. Suddenly, for the first time in our lives, we feel self-conscious. Other kids tease us about the odd proportions of our bodies and the look of our faces, our skin, our hair; cruel nicknames begin to circulate and cliques begin to form, all based on appearance. Looking in the mirror, we begin to fear that maybe we don’t look quite right; our faces and our bodies sure don’t look like the people on the TV or the models on the magazine covers. Shocked and even horrified, we conclude that there must be something wrong with us.

The effect goes beyond teenage insecurity and anxiety. Desperate to put a stop our exposure and the threat of humiliation, we begin to behave differently. We try to look cool and dress to fit in. But even more to the point, we also start restricting our body movements and physical expression. Physical movement means exposure and so we inhibit our bodies. If we’re good at sports or dance or something “official,” we might find an acceptable refuge for our physicality, but if not, we just hunker down and hide out. We stop playing and try to look dignified, whatever that means. For many, this marks the beginning of the end, the first step on the road to sedentary living, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. For many of us, this is our first death.

Of course, social anxiety doesn’t strike every middle-school student, nor does it account for every case of sedentary living in the modern world. There are plenty of people who have managed to maintain their physicality in spite of social pressure. But there’s a very real epidemic going on here, something we see played out every day in the modern adult world: people who are massively inhibited about moving their bodies in any public setting, people who simply refuse to express their innate physicality. Even apart from the downstream health consequences of sedentary living, this must be seen as a disease state in and of itself.

To make matters worse, modern media adds to this social pathology by stoking the fires of self-doubt and distorting our image of what “normal” looks like. Exceptional imagery reminds us of our physical inadequacies, thousands of times every day. But the media lies and they do it intentionally. The faces and bodies that appear in print, especially those associated with “health and fitness,” are neither average or normal. In fact, models are selected from a huge pool of prospects and photographed under ideal conditions. Then, when the perfect image is selected, the Photoshopping begins: every flaw is eliminated, every wrinkle is smoothed, every bulge and imperfection is wiped clean. The end result is something completely unreal and plastic, something that simply does not actually exist in the natural world.

This is not just a matter of graphic artists trying to make their publications look better. In fact, the images that finally make it to the magazine cover are intentional distortions, designed from scratch to fuel our sense of inadequacy. Marketers and advertisers are well aware of our so-called “pain points.” As they see it, their job is to create unhappiness and fuel our discontent, all in order that we might buy their products. This effort is completely deliberate and premeditated. If people feel insecure about their bodies and their lives, so much the better. And in this respect, health and fitness glossies are actually a powerful health negative.

And so our challenge: If we’re ever going to come to peace with our bodies and create a physically authentic lifestyle, it’s essential that we free ourselves from peer pressure and the artificial imagery we see in print and on screen. In short, we need to escape the glossy magazine trap and start looking at real people, face-to-face.

When we turn away from the glossies, we begin to realize that the vast, overwhelming majority of us look nothing like cover models. In fact, most of us are well, “funny looking.” We’ve got asymmetrical features, blotchy skin, odd dimensions and ungainly movements. In short, we are beautiful individuals.


Being funny looking is not an exception; it is the norm, a human universal. Exceptional-looking people, in their non-Photoshopped state, are rare. And while they might well be nice to look at on occasion, their appearance does not qualify them to be models for how we ought to live. We should not aspire to be like them, nor should we feel inadequate when we aren’t.

And while we’re at it, we would also do well to give our mirrors a closer look. Except for practical grooming, mirrors are a distraction and a major source of unhealthy self-consciousness. Remember, mirrors are a very recent human invention. The vast majority of people who have ever lived have had very little idea of what they looked like. Just imagine going through your entire life, never having to sweat your appearance or worry about what people think. Imagine how liberating that would be. Take your mirrors down and feel the freedom that comes with it.

Remember too that moving your body during the course of the day is a natural act and our birthright. When you take it upon yourself to move your body within eyeshot of other people, you are not the strange one. You are not deviant. You are normal; you are simply doing what your body wants.
So it’s time to get over our inhibitions. Yes, you are funny looking. So am I. So are your friends and your co-workers.

So stop with the glossies and the TV.

Stop with the mirrors.

Stop worrying about what other people think.

Start moving your body for the sheer pleasure of it.

You are beautiful.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Innovative Solar Grills - The Solution To Intermittent Sun and Able To Cook at 450F For 25 Hours Straight

SOURCE: :Prevent Disease

The newest generation of solar grills can store heat for longer cooking times and hotter temperatures while reducing the problem of intermittent sun. Based on technology developed by MIT professor David Wilson, the grills generate cooking temperatures of 450F, and offer up to 25 hours of straight cooking time without any energy but the sun.

Cooking with a solar grill is probably the greenest method of preparing your food. It is also one of the most easily accessible forms of solar power.

A solar grill or oven is a device that harnesses sunlight to create heat energy. It doesn’t use any fuel, and it doesn’t cost a thing to operate it. It can help slow down the deforestation and desertification caused by harvesting natural resources which are used in conventional fuel production.

In theory, no more trees would be cut to be used for making charcoal, if everyone switched to using solar ovens. And, while the use of a solar oven is not always feasible, new concepts can open up many doors and new possibilities.

Extended Cooking Times Storing Latent Heat

Wilson’s technology harnesses the power of our brightest star and stores latent heat using a Fresnel lens to harness the sun’s energy to melt down a container of Lithium Nitrate. The Lithium Nitrate acts as a battery storing thermal energy for 25 hours at a time. The heat is then released as convection for outdoor cooking.

Some solar ovens convert the light they gather into heat by using darker colored materials. This is based on the fact that the color black absorbs more light than any other color, and turns it into heat. The more efficient the grill, the faster and longer the cooking time will be.

By trapping heat inside, the grill isolates the air within the cooking area, separating it out from the cooler outside air. This is accomplished through the Fresnel lens allowing light to enter, but once the light has turned into heat, the barrier traps the heat inside the grill.

Sustainable Cooking

 The grill could both alleviate the well-known environmental impact of traditional charcoal grilling, and also offer a cleaner, greener and more socially sustainable cooking option in the developing world:

The design is to be deployed in developing countries as an alternative source for cooking. Wilson originally came up for the idea during his time spent in Nigeria. While there he noticed a large set of problems linked to practice of cooking with firewood.

Of course this design is unlikely to excite the purists who are addicted to the taste of hickory. But then with the American design expected to feature a hybrid solar/propane heating system, and with wood chips for propane grilling commonly available, there should be ways to get a little smoke in your food without the need to burn up the planet.

A group of MIT students are working with the technology to develop a prototype solar grill. Derek Ham, Eric Uva, and Theodora Vardouli are conducting a study through their multi-disciplinary course "iTeams," short for "Innovation Teams", to determine the interest in such a concept and then hopefully launch a business to manufacture and distribute the grills.

If all goes well, in a couple years we just be giving solar grills as presents on Father’s Day and enjoying sun-kissed instead of char-broiled even after the sun goes down.

Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.

Monday, October 21, 2013

12 Healthy Homemade Candy Recipes

Picture of homemade candy bar
Photos: Kimi Harris
Robin shared some wonderful choices for healthier organic candy for Halloween last week. It made me long for candy myself! I thought I'd share 12 recipes for homemade candies that everyone can enjoy. Some of these recipes are candy bars, some are great to serve at parties, and others make perfect additions to lunch pails. Better yet, the recipes can be surprisingly simple and healthy!
The following recipes use unrefined sweeteners and high quality ingredients. It’s candy you can feel good about feeding your family. With these around, your children will thank you and you can satisfy your own sweet tooth on something more nutritious as well as delicious. Just be careful with the couple of recipes that call for making a sticky syrup out of honey or maple syrup. I use my back burner and make sure all children are out of the kitchen as it can cause serious sugar burns.
1. Mock Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: I created this recipe for my then 3-year-old daughter. They were an instant hit with both her and her friends.
2. The Easiest, Healthiest, Most Scrumptious Fudge Ever: The title says it all. This fudge is so much easier to make than traditional fudge and much healthier, too. I've made it with the more common sweetener, honey, with great results as well.
3. Nature’s Candy Bar (pictured at top): I called these Nature's Candy Bar because they feature dates, which are rich in natural sugar. A chocolate coating doesn't hurt either.
4. Candy Bar: This chocolate-covered candy bar looks amazing! I would recommend simply substituting the agave syrup in this recipe and the next with the less refined sweetener, honey.
5. Mock Mounds Bar: Mounds bars used to be my favorite candy bar. Now I can have a a healthier version guilt-free.
6. Cracker Toffee (pictured above): My daughter and I made this super easy recipe last year as part of our Christmas candy platter. They are rich, delicious and so easy.
7. Old-Fashioned Caramel Corn: I adapted my husband's favorite caramel corn recipe from his younger years to only include unrefined sweeteners (no corn syrup here!) It is a certain favorite at parties.
8. Caramel Apples: This recipe uses cream and honey to create a rich caramel coating for apples. It's perfect for this time of year.
9. Dairy-Free Caramel Apples: This recipe doesn't use any dairy but a combination of honey and maple syrup. How delicious does that sound?
10. Honey-Sweetened Dark Chocolate Macadamia Nuts: These make a very special gift, and very yummy snacking.
11. Maple Magic Candy: All you need for this recipe is maple syrup. If you've ever had maple syrup candy before, you know how amazing it is.
12. Decadent Chocolate "Larabar" Truffles: (pictured above): These truffles were inspired by Larabars, but morphed into truffles; perfect as an afternoon pick-me-up.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Edible forests: The next step in the local food movement?

RFWellness loves that Basalt, Colorado is planning an Edible Forest!

Community gardens dole out small plots of land and encourage people with limited access to fresh produce to grow their own. Now, there’s a new twist on that model springing up across the country: edible food forests.

Stephanie Syson of the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute looks at plans for a proposed food forest in Basalt, Colo. (Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media)
Imagine turning a public park into a free-for-all of community plants – and snacks. Food forests have been likened to Garden of Eden revelry, or the blissful sampling in Willy Wonka’s chocolate waterfall room.

It’s like a community garden on steroids. The concept is pretty simple: planners recreate a forest ecosystem with edible plants and trees in a public space. Then, in a deviation from most community garden models, they open it up and allow people to forage for food for free.

“It is a forest. It is a park. But it’s all edible, so the whole community can come in and sit under the apple tree and eat from the apple tree,” said Stephanie Syson, manager at the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute (CRMPI).

There are only a few food forests already up and running in the country, with the highest profile projects in Seattle, Wash. and Western Massachusetts. Planners of a new food forest in the tiny mountain town of Basalt, Colo., are experimenting with the concept now, trying to figure out how to make a publicly-owned food project work.

Basalt’s food forest is the brainchild of Syson, a plant expert at CRMPI, and the town’s Parks Department staff. Both groups will pay for and maintain the forest, at least until it’s up and running and volunteers start lining up for shifts.

Planted on a half-acre plot on the town’s Ponderosa Park, the forest will mimic a forest ecosystem, with fruit and nut trees, mushrooms, native edibles, a compost pile and a seed-saving garden, meant to stock the public library’s seed lending program.

Basalt serves as a small bedroom community for the affluent ski resort in nearby Aspen. The town’s horticulturalist Lisa DiNardo says she hopes the food forest can serve as common ground within the community.

“This is where we need to go,” DiNardo said. “This is one way to build bridges in communities is through a food network, a healthy food network.”

That robust network plays into the food forest’s location, within walking distance to the town’s elementary, middle and high schools, and across the street from a predominantly Latino trailer park community.

DiNardo says up in the mountains, food security is a huge issue, and that has people thinking about what they eat.

A couple years ago, a blizzard, and subsequent avalanches, cut off road travel. Produce trucks couldn’t make it into the isolated mountain towns in this small valley of less than 50,000 residents.

“There was a big storm. I went into City Market and literally the shelves were empty,” DiNardo said. “And I think that was an impetus for growers to really start thinking about it, you know, ‘What can we do locally to bridge the gap?”


Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Gluten-Free Craze

From: Kim, Real (&mostly) Balanced Ideas for Real Living

My new gluten-free LOVE!
(uncompensated LOVE)
Today is Day 4 of Gluten-free.  So far, so good.

Why? You may ask.  As a non-fan of jumping on the bandwagon, why go gluten-free?  It's just a fad, right?  Well, maybe, maybe not.  There is a lot of discussion and so-called scientific evidence to support both sides of the argument around gluten-free.  

So I decided to be my own guinea pig.  

So here is what I've found thus far:
  • I have no trouble finding gluten-free foods that I love
  • I miss my morning whole-grain toast just a little, but yummy gluten-free granola makes up for it
  • Day 3- "stuff" in my head that has been there a long time seems to be breaking up.  That's good, right?
  • Adding my daily Fiberwise is a good idea (which I've been a little lax on these 3 days.  That's how I know.)

My goal is to feel better.  Thyroid disease is kind of kicking my butt and traditional diet and exercise, yoga, changing/adjusting meds and other stuff doesn't seem to be making a difference.  So this is the next thing on the list.  I plan to stick with it initially for 1 week (half-way there) and see if it is a positive change.  After that, we'll see.

What is your experience with gluten-free?  Does it work for you?  I'd love to hear your responses.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Organic Consumers Association

The Organic Consumers Association is a great source of inspiration and information all things organic and natural living. Check out both links:

Here are a few samples

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Thyroid 101

Thyroid 101 is your thyroid making you fat Thyroid 101

[Note from Katie: I've gotten a lot of thyroid questions lately, so I asked a friend of mine, Christa Orecchio, a Clinical and Holistic Nutritionist who blogs at The Whole Journey, to provide some information on her experience working with clients with thyroid problems.]

Enter Christa:

Is it just me or are we hearing more often than not these days of many people who have thyroid disorders? I would say that at least half of my clientele has some kind of under-active thyroid situation that is adversely affecting their energy levels, weight, moods, and digestion.

The thyroid is one of the largest endocrine glands in the body. It’s located in the front of the neck. This gland, when it is not functioning optimally, can create havoc in our lives because it is responsible for making energy. I like to call it both the thermostat and the furnace of the human body.
It works hand-in-hand with our adrenal glands, the gas tank of the body.

This super important gland regulates metabolism, which keeps us at a healthy weight. It also keeps our moods happy and balanced, and helps us sleep deeply, and our digestion flowing. When any one of these things is out of whack, we simply don’t feel like ourselves.

The thyroid gland also controls how quickly the body makes and uses energy, makes protein and controls how sensitive the body is to other hormones – it also plays a critical role in our metabolism and ability to lose/gain weight

Today I want to tell you the signs and symptoms of an underactive thyroid and five key food groups you can consume to support it.

How do you know if your thyroid is underactive?

Unexplained weight gain even with proper diet and exercise
Depression & exhaustion
Cold feet/hands – tingling in hands/arms
Dry and/or pale skin, coarse, thinning hair and brittle nails
Puffy eyes
Memory loss and poor concentration
Thinning on the outside of the eyebrows


Friday, October 11, 2013

Opinion: A path to pay for integrated health care.

Opinion: A path to pay for integrated health care

By Edie Sonn

Integrating physical and behavioral care is good health policy — and it’s good for health.
The Institute of Medicine acknowledged that in 1996, when it advocated an integrated approach to primary care that would address physical, mental and emotional, and social functioning. And primary care providers see the importance of this every day.

Patients’ mental and physical health problems are interwoven, especially for the chronically ill. The vast majority of patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, asthma, lung disease and others have co-occurring mental health and/or substance use issues. And there is significant evidence that integrating primary and behavioral health care leads to improved outcomes and reduced costs of care.

Yet few payers, either public or private, pay for integrated care. Why is that, and what can be done to change it?

A new report from the Center for Improving Value in Health Care  explores these questions. Using findings from interviews with key stakeholders, as well as information from successful integrated care programs around the country, the report, ”Paying for Integrated Care and Behavioral Health: Identifying Barriers and Developing Strategies to Overcome Them,” examines the challenges that both providers and payers face and presents recommendations for addressing those.

The report comes at an opportune time. The State of Colorado is developing its State Healthcare Innovation Plan using a pre-testing award under the State Innovation Model (SIM) program initiative from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. That plan centers on integrating primary care and behavioral health within new payment models, and aligning those payment approaches between Medicaid and commercial health plans.

Some findings from the report provide useful insights into the development of the SIM plan, including: CONTINUE READING AT SOURCE