In 1980, the first report by the Dietary Guidelines (DG) Advisory Committee was authored by two friends of mine, the late Harvard School of Public Health Professor Mark Hegsted PhD (representing the McGovern Committee and the USDA) and Allan Forbes MD, formerly FDA Chief of Nutrition. I have remained keenly interested in the 5-year reports ever since.
Unfortunately, I have gradually lost much of my early enthusiasm for this advisory committee. During the past 35 years, I have seen little if any progress toward a better understanding of diet, nutrition and health. This is regrettable because these reports serve as guidelines for health education, government school lunch, WIC (women, infants and children), and other important public programs. I do not see how this report is any more progressive or insightful than its predecessors. Previous reports have included new words and phrases which unfortunately did not lead to any real change. Click here to continue reading original article.
Just me enjoying a chocolate chip cookie from my favorite New York City café, The City Bakery. Owner Maury Rubin, creator of Birdbath opened the bakery in 1997. Their cookies are amazingly delicious! My ultimate favorite are the melted chocolate chip cookies. That cookie sells out the fastest. It’s so decadent, it’s like eating a brownie but a flat round version of one. Each bite is filled with a thick chunck of melted chocolate. It’s to die for, literally!
City Bakery is also famous for their pretzel croissants. It was once featured in the New York Times article titled, From Croissant to Cronut as the “New Frankenpastry”. They pump out over 500 a day. This cronut is like no other. It is the perfect mixture! They’re also known for their annual Hot Chocolate Festival. This festival is spectacular! It’s always held in February (go figure), and on each day the bakery creates wonderful hot chocolate recipes with exotic ingredients. Like for instance, Chili Pepper Hot Chocolate, Bourbon Hot Chocolate, “Love Potion” Hot Chocolate, Peruvian Hot Chocolate, Beer, Caramel, Tropical and so much more. And don’t forget to top it with a chunck of their own in-house marshmallow. It’s a chocolate haven for chocolate lovers like myself.
City Bakery is a unique bakery in and of itself. The foods amazing, the service is on point, and décor is friendly and inviting.
Two recent studies show blood-sugar levels can affect the brain—-adding new evidence that diabetes might be a significant risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found in a study of mice that raising blood sugar to abnormally high levels corresponded with increased production in the brain of amyloid beta, a protein thought to be an important factor in Alzheimer’s disease. In a separate study of middle-aged people, conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, those with Type 1 diabetes had significantly more brain lesions, and slower cognitive function, than people without the disease.
Jamie Oliver’s Food Foundation was founded in 2002 with a mission to “shape the health and wellbeing of current and future generations and contribute to a healthier world by providing better access to food education for everyone.” Every year around this time, Jamie hosts Food Revolution Day, which is a day of action where thousands of people all over the world make a stand for the right to make healthy food and essential cooking skills mandatory. This year’s Food Revolution Day falls on Friday, May 15th, and this time he’s making it all about the kids.
“By educating children about food in a practical, fun and engaging way, we can provide them with the knowledge and skills they so urgently need to lead healthier, happier lives. We need to make practical food education a compulsory part of every school curriculum across the world, and that’s why I’ve launched a petition calling on all G20 countries to action this. With enough support from millions of people around the world, I truly believe that we can create a movement that’s powerful enough to make governments take action.” Jamie Oliver
I had an amazing experience at this years TEDxManhattan “Changing The Way We Eat” conference. I was humbly inspired and motivated by each and every speaker. It was an epic event filled with like-minded people who are true ‘Food Warriors’ and ‘Food Heroes’. Conferences like TEDxManhattan create a platform for people to share their ideas and passions. Diane Hatz, is the main organizer and host of TEDxManhattan. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of Change Food. This year was her forth conference, and it was definitely well attended globally. She reported this year’s conference had 370 in-person attendees, 173 viewing parties with an estimated 8,500 people in 37 states and 14 countries, and 17,482 computers tuned into the event. What a wonderful accomplishment. Well, as an attendee I had a wonderful experience. Here are some of my highlights.
I got the opportunity to meet Tom Colicchio. He was extremely pleasant, friendly, and funny. I am a long time fan of Top Chef which Tom is an Executive Producer and a head judge on the Bravo reality TV show. We obviously have a lot in common so we spoke briefly about the conference and my connections within the ‘Food Movement’. I had a wonderful time chatting with him. He’s truly a ‘Food Hero’.
Michele Merkel is the co-director of the Food & Water Justice Program at Food & Water Watch, inspires me to never give up. As a former attorney for the Environmental Protection Agency, Michele knew in her core the unethical practices the EPA stoodby wasn’t fair. She quit her job with the EPA and now Michele represents small traditional organic family farmers, and uses her legal knowledge to sue the EPA. I thought, what a Bad Ass! Although our judicial system is a tough one, Michele believes everyone could help support the fight by voting for candidates who are committed to change, send letters to your representatives, rally, sign petitions and demand for a better sustainable food system. Michele also recommends researching these websites for more ways to help. Food Policy Action, Food & Water Watch, and Socialy Responsible Agricultural Project.
Stephen Ritz talked about the struggles his students face while living in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the South Bronx. He founded Green Bronx Machine which teaches student K-12 the importance of eating healthy through growing organic fruits and vegetables in the classroom. Get this, they grow more than 30,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables. We need a Stephen Ritz in every Public School. His hard work and dedication to his students at PS 55 is quite impressive and evident. He is feeding the community and teaching his students simultaneously, which is brilliant. Stephen inspires me to continue to educate my family and community.
Nikko Masumoto works on her family’s Certified Organic Farm (Masumoto Family Farm) where they grow peaches, nectarines, and grapes. Nikiko’s talk made me see the realization of how timing is extremely important when harvesting. She was captivating! Her poem, “My Fields of Dreams” fascinated me because we share the same dream — a sustainable future for everyone. In honor of National Poetry Month April 2015, I celebrate Nikko’s poem. In 2013 she published her first book The Perfect Peach (Ten Speed Press), co-authored with Marcy & David Mas Masumoto. Family farming preserves traditional food products while safeguarding the world’s agro-biodiversity. Nikiko is proudly learning the tools of the trade on her fathers farm. Danielle Nierenberg is the President of Food Tank and one of my idles. She has a long history in fighting to alleviate hunger and property, while protecting the environment. Danielle’s talk about the forgotten farmers, which are women because it’s women who make up 43% of the global agricultural work force. They are often denied education, refused by banking and financial institutions, and faced with discrimination. Danielle opened up my mind to see that there are other women struggling to earn, farm and feed their families all over the world. I’m inspired to learn more about Food Tank, and to help continue to spread the word about women in agricultural work force.
Ietef “DJ Cavem Moetavation” Vita is an O.G. (Organic Gardner), vegan chef, educator, midwife, emcee, producer, b-boy, DJ, founder of Going Green Living Bling, founder of Eco-HipHop and award-winning activist. His performance and message was awesome. He got everyone up and moving to the sounds and beats of, the “Kale Life”. Ietef raps, performs and educates young children and communities through his music. His performance along with his wife Alkemia Earth was epic. Check out how they use hip hop to educate others about healthy food TEDxManhattan talk and performance.
Conferences like TEDxManhattan create a platform for people to share their ideas and passions. This was my first time attending one of TEDxManhattan conferences, and I was impressed by the whole experience.
Every aspect of that day was centered around the theme, “Changing the Way We Eat”. From the speakers topics, the ambiance of the event, the healthy delicious foods they catered, fun interactive activities, the vendors, guest, prizes and even the wonderful gift bags I took home — the whole experience was amazing.
I’ve made some great connections and learned a tremendous amount of information about our food system. It was a life changing event for me, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity. I am already looking forward next year’s event. I am and forever will be a TEDxSter! To hear the TEDxManhattan 2015 talks click here.
I’m fascinated by bees. During the summer they’re busy at work pollinating and stinging away. Many people are frightened by bees, and allergic to their sting as well. A bee sting can kill, if you’re not careful. Half of the people who die of bee sting anaphylaxis did not know they had an allergy. Those people who are severely allergic must use an Auvi-Q or Epi-Pen (epinephrine shot). I’m not allergic and thank goodness none of my three children are.
Many bees hibernate, though some, including honeybees, do not, said Scott McArt, a research scientist in the department of entomology at the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“Most bee species in northern climates overwinter in dormant stages,” Dr. McArt said. “For example, queen bumblebees will mate in the fall, then crawl into a crevice and overwinter alone, protected from the elements.”
The queens emerge in spring and found new colonies, which are productive through the summer, Dr. McArt said. Then, in the fall, new queens are produced by the colony to find a mate and continue the cycle.
“Honeybees are different,” Dr. McArt said. “The major reason they produce so much honey is so the entire colony can survive through the winter by feeding on it.”
The colony forms itself into a tightly packed ball, he said, “shivering” to produce heat and using the honey for fuel.
“The bees on the outside of the cluster act as insulators,” he said, “while the innermost bees generate the heat. They continually rotate their position, alternating roles as heat producer and recipient.”
Bees play an intricate part in our food system. They are the most popular pollinating insects on earth and without them our food chain will suffer tremendously. They play a critical role in maintaining our ecosystem and it’s our duty to protect them.
According to Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA) bees have been dying off in droves around the world since the mid-1990’s. My favorite websites are Take Part and the Center for Food Safety. You could find more information on petitions and other ways you could support protecting bees and other environmental issues that are at risk.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! Here are some pictures I took from New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade on 5th Avenue. I’m happy to say, I’m part Irish. My grandfather on my dad’s side was Irish, and my parents are Jamaican. The unfortunate side, I don’t have any memories of my grandfather growing up. My dad sometimes would share some of his childhood stories, and from what he says, my grandpa was a strict man. I was born and raised in America, and he died when I was a little girl. It saddens me at times because I don’t have any Irish heritage to pass down to my own children. On days like today, I often research Ireland’s history. I came across their National Anthem, which is quite heroically amazing.
Chorus: “Soldiers are we whose lives are pledged to Ireland; Some have come from a land beyond the wave. Sworn to be free, No more our ancient sire land Shall shelter the despot or the slave. tonight we man the gap of danger In Erin’s cause, come woe or weal ‘Mid cannons’ roar and rifles peal, We’ll chant a soldier’s song.”
The parade was great to watch. The day started out wet, but the sun came out and the parade-goers were out in full swing. Many colleges and schools are out for Spring break this week, so the city was packed with young adults, families and tourist in their full Irish green ensembles. Days like this makes me feel proud to be an Irish. There’s an Irish saying that’s pretty popular:
“There are only two kinds of people in the world, the Irish and those who wish they were.”
Beannachtaí Lá Fhéile Phádraig daoibh go léit – Happy St Patrick’s Day!
Honeybees are on a decline if you’re unaware. The Agricultural Research Service(ARS), USDA’s internal research agency, is leading several efforts into possible Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) causes. Scientist are looking at four general categories for the causes:
Not only American’s are unhealthy, but the health of our honey bees are as well. David vanEngeladorp, Ph.D. an entomologist at the University of Maryland was the first to discover honey bees were in trouble 11 years ago. The biggest factors affecting bees’ are the increasing use of pesticides, vaaroa mites and poor nutrition. They cause the bees immune system to be weaken — leaving them highly subseptical to the flu, other viruses and pathogens.
We all should be worried and take the necessary steps to help protect our country’s most efficient pollinators. Bees’ play an intricate part in our food system. They pollinate 33% of what we eat. Just imagine if they’re exsistance were to decline tremendously, we may experience a food shortage.
The Foods We’d Lose
That’s just a handful of them, the list still goes on and on. So, how can you help? Over at Food Democracy Now, you could sign a petition that will go to President Obama urging him to ban the use of neonics. According to the petition, neonicotinoid’s this class of insecticides can kill bees’ outright, impair brain function and suppress their immune system — leaving them more vulnerable to diseases. Also, Takepart is another website you could visit for petitions, awarenesses and pledges of all kinds of environmental crisis. Every vote counts!
What Else You Can Do to Help
Buy local honey: Support local bee keepers. Where to find them? Your local farmers market
Make a garden: Make your outdoor space pollinator-friendly plants that are good sources of nectar and pollen. Visit pollinator.org/guides to pick out beautiful options.
Safe Pesticides: Look for bee-friendly alternatives. Check out groworganic.com Don’t use commercial pesticides or herbicides.
Go Organic: This certifies safer regulations on spraying and the fruits and vegetables are more nutritious.
Support your local farmers market by going and purchasing fresh organic produce, grass-fed meats, pastured raised chickens/eggs, and dairy products. These simple actions are vital to our nations history and our existence. Without high-quality farmland we are wasting one of the world’s most important resources.
The 2007 National Resources Inventory reported, America is loosing more than an acre of farmland per minute. It’s due to rapid modern developments. According to the American Farmland Trust, these working lands keep our taxes down and maintain the legacy of our agricultural heritage. We as American have a responsibility to protect this most valuae resources for future generations. Shopping in a supermarket with cold freezers and processed foods have become our norm. It’s time to go back to our heritage and buy farm fresh foods.
Helping is simple and easy. Urge Congress to protect farmland conservation funding by sending letters to your Senators or Representatives, sign petitions, donate, and most importantly go shop at your local farmers market. Make that commitment to buy locally and advocate for laws that help family farmers and their heirs — stay on their land.
For more information visit: Farmland website to gather more information.
Sign this petition to protect the farmland conservation funding.
That’s right! Later this year Hershey’s making the BIG SWITCH people. No-GMO’s in their two most popular products, Hershey Kisses and Milk Chocolate Bars. I congratulate them on this smart move, and hope they will consider removing all GMO’s from their entire product line. Hershey’s will also ditch emulsifier polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR) and artificial vanillin for the brands as it pledges to shift to “simple ingredients”. Did you hear that, “Simple Ingredients”?
Hershey said in a statement:
“We are specifically looking to formulate new products and transition existing products to deliver on no artificial flavors, no synthetic colors, no high fructose corn-syrup and to be gluten-free.”
A couple of years ago, in February 2013, GMO Inside began calling on consumers to put pressure on Hershey’s (as well Mars) to make its products without GMOs due to concerns over the environmental and health impacts of GMOs. Well, thousands of consumers went to facebook, wrote emails, and made telephone calls urging Hershey’s to move to non-GMO ingredients. All of our hard work paid off.
I’m impressed! But wait, didn’t Nestlé USA not too long ago also made a similar announcement to ditch artificial colors and flavors from all chocolate and candy products, such as Butterfinger, Crunch and Baby Ruth. I see a BIG TREND happening here people. I say, to HELL with GMO’s!
Do you even know what GMO’s are? I’ll leave it up to the experts to explain this. Check out Non-GMO Project website for a full easy-read understanding of GMO’s. I’m hoping other food companies will take heed.