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What are we teaching our kids about food?

February 28, 2011

It is simple to know if our society, our schools, our teachers, and our parents are teaching our children about healthy food. It is just as simple to know if we are teaching our children how to kill themselves slowly and live shorter lives than their parents.

We don’t need expensive medical studies published in the Lancet or written by Stanford doctors to know. We don’t need government guidelines or articles in Time magazine to tell us.

All it takes is a quick look through our pantries and refrigerators. All it takes is a look at the school menus that our children eat from. All it takes is a look at the approximately 32% of American children that are obese or overweight. All it takes is a simple observation that the majority of food in the supermarket is unhealthy. All it takes is a quick count of the number of fast food restaurants you see on your way to work.

The culture of food as a nourishing tradition and the skill of cooking healthy meals and passing down those recipes to our children are dying or already dead. They’ve been usurped by agriculture subsidies, government policies, corporate profits, medical practices and frankly, by apathy.

We spend many hours a week carting our children to soccer and baseball practice in hopes that they will be star athletes. We spend time and money on music lessons and tutoring hoping they will be successful. Yet we spend much less time thinking about and preparing a healthy meal for them.  Parents are passionate about providing a good education for their children, but lack in teaching them about one of the most important parts of life: food.

What is the difference between Illness and Wellness? “I” and “We”.

I profoundly believe that the power of food has a primal place in our homes that binds us to the best bits of life.   ~Jamie Oliver

Barefoot Running – A Metaphor

February 13, 2011
Friction Blisters on Human foot due to running...

Image via Wikipedia

My life now is like barefoot running. It took courage and intuitiveness to take off my shoes the first time. But the freedom felt so good. I started off too quickly, knowing I should slow down to not risk the pain & injury, but I was so giddy with the new-found euphoria.  I persevered through the occasional bruises and blisters while finding that the pain in my back was subsiding. I knew I had chosen correctly, although skepticism occasionally made me question my decision.

Somedays it feels like flying and others, when the feet are tender, feels awkward and painful. When I am really cold, I feel numb. I often am the only one running barefoot, alone in my endeavor. But occasionally a kindred spirit runs along side me, encouraging me and supporting me.

I feel the earth below me. I feel my body, mind and spirit adjusting to the unevenness and obstacles, learning to step lightly, but now so attentive to be more efficient and powerful than ever before.

The distance can be long, lonely and difficult. Sometimes I just want to stop, turn around, and go back to where I started. Other days I see the gift I’ve been given, one which not everyone has received, and I am deeply grateful for the possibilities of that gift. I go on.

Running barefoot is about awareness, patience, feeling fully, perseverance, exploration, courage, acceptance of limitations and the celebration of our potential. It is about curing old injuries and finding new health, inner-strength and joy.

Being naked approaches being revolutionary; going barefoot is mere populism.
~John Updike

Conflict of Interest with Vaccines at the World Health Organization

June 7, 2010

This week marks the year anniversary of the official declaration of the influenza A/H1N1 pandemic. A year later, after Dr Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health Organization made the announcement, governments are left with stockpiles of unused vaccines worth billions of dollars.

In December of 2009, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) announced that it would  launch an inquiry in January 2010 on the influence of the pharmaceutical companies on the global swine flu campaign, focusing especially on the extent of the pharmaceutical  industry’s influence on WHO. The Health Committee of the PACE, a body representing 47 European nations including Russia, unanimously passed a resolution calling for the inquiry. The step was long-overdue move to public transparency of a triangle of drug corruption between WHO, the pharmaceutical industry and academic scientists that has permanently damaged the lives of millions and even caused death.

The British Medical Journal and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has conducted an investigation which has brought to light that WHO took advice from experts who had declarable financial and research ties with pharmaceutical companies producing antivirals and influenza vaccines.

The WHO has refused to make public the details of the relationship of the individuals in question with the pharmaceutical companies.

The declaration of the pandemic resulted in billions of dollars worth of profit for the drug companies.

Hidden Dangers in Kids’ Meals

May 4, 2010

Agave: The controversy

March 30, 2010

Some prominent health and wellness websites have been claiming that agave syrup is just as bad as high fructose corn syrup. Others claim it is a harmless, all-natural sugar substitute with a low glycemic index, suitable for diabetics. So who is right?

The agave plant is, of course, natural. It is most common in Mexico and is closely related to the lily. The flowers, stalks, leaves and sap are edible. When the sap is fermented and distilled it becomes mezcal, with tequila being the best-known.

The un-processed juice that comes out of the plant is not very sweet, so it is processed to convert long-chain complex sugars into the sweet simple sugars, fructose and glucose through a process called hydrolysis of polysaccharides. There are several different ways to process agave into the syrup or nectar that you can buy in a bottle at the store. There are three ways to convert complex sugars into a simple sugar sweetener such as agave syrup. It can be done thermally, chemically, or enzymatically. Most commercially sold agave syrup is processed using enzymes.

Agave salimiana is processed by cutting off the stalk and collecting “aquamiel”. Once the aquamiel is collected, it is taken to the production facility. There, an enzyme is added, transforming the naturally occurring sugar molecule chains into more simple sugars, mostly fructose or “fruit sugar” and a small amount of glucose. Excess water is then evaporated.

Agave tequilana or Blue agave is processed by collecting the bulbous and fibrous piña which contains inulin, a dietary fiber. After havest it is taken to the mill and pressed where the inulin rich juice is collected. It can then be heated or be subjected to chemicals or enzymes to convert it into a sweet syrup.

There have been claims that the chemicals used are caustic acids, clarifiers, and filtration chemicals such as sulfuric and/or hydrofluoric acid, dicalite and clarimex. Others state that the enzymes used are organic and all-natural. The problems is that it is pretty hard to know for sure how that bottle of agave was processed and if any chemicals were added.

But this is really not the problem. The real problem is the percentage of fructose that the juice is converted into to. It can be up to 80% fructose which is a lot higher than high fructose corn syrup. Fructose in its natural form is not bad and is found in many of our foods such as honey, tree fruits, berries and melons. However, consuming a lot of highly refined and processed fructose does have its risks as pointed out in my previous post  “What’s wrong with corn? Part II”.

The issue really is the AMOUNT of fructose you consume. A teaspoon of naturally processed agave nectar in a cup of tea is not going to do the same harm as drinking a soda that contains quite a bit more fructose. The key is being aware of what products contain fructose and moderating your total consumption. Most people I know have no idea that agave syrup contains so much fructose.

UPDATE: What do those stickers on fruit mean? Genetically modified fruit.

March 15, 2010

In my previous post, I stated that the numbers on fruit stickers could indicate if the fruit is genetically modified. These fruits would have a sticker that begins with an “8″.  Although this coding system exists, it seems that they are never used and like me, you probably have never seen one on a piece of fruit.

These PLU numbers are used mainly for inventory purposes and to help the checker input the correct product into the computer at checkout. They are not for educating the consumer about whether the fruit or vegetable is conventionally grown, organic or genetically modified.

So if you want to avoid GMO fruits and vegetables and other GMO products, what can you do?   One good source of information is www.NonGMOShoppingGuide.com. It provides tips on how to avoid GMO’s  and a shopping guide.

Most of Hawaii’s papaya crops have been genetically modified to resist the Papaya Ring Virus. Some zucchini and yellow squash are also genetically modified to resist viruses. GMO corn on the cob is also approved in the US. You would probably be best to only buy the organic versions of these.

Another great website is GMO Compass. Although it is European, it has some great information, including a huge database on all GMO products.

If you have ever seen a PLU sticker with a number starting with “8″, please let us know in the comment box, including the city and state.

If you find this information valuable, please consider making a donation. With your help, I can keep providing research and information on health and wellness topics. THANK YOU!

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What do those numbers on fruit stickers mean?

February 26, 2010

When you buy fruit, do you know what you are getting? The number on the sticker will tell you.

Organic produce is denoted by a five-digit number whose first digit is 9.

An 8 prefix indicates genetically modified food.

Stickers that begin with a 3 or a 4 are conventionally grown.

For more information go to FruitSticker.com

The cleanest (least amount of pesticides) produce that are not organic are:

1. onions

2. avocado

3. sweet corn

4. pineapple

5. mango

6. asparagus

7. peas

To see more clean fruits and veggies and to learn which ones are the “dirtiest” and should be avoided, CLICK HERE.

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