Welcome to the September 2015 collection of Perfectly Interesting Health News! Each month we gather interesting health and wellness news, condense it, and share it with our lovely readers. This month marks the beginning of autumn, likely the most beautiful (and my favorite) time of the year here on the east coast. In this edition of perfectly interesting news we have addressed the topic of food deserts (keep reading for an explanation of what they are) and how some inspirational people are making a difference. We also have the latest on GMO news, a great new cook book recommendation, 10 must watch documentaries, and 4 delicious seasonal recipes to enjoy!
Organic Spice and Everything Nice
Big news this month is the public announcement by McCormick (herbs & spices) that they will significantly increase their number of Organic and Non-GMO offerings in the U.S. The company announced that, by the year 2016, 80% of its products will be Organic and GMO free. McCormick will also improve labeling as part of its commitment to transparency for customers. Non-GMO vanilla extract will be the first to hit store shelves, just in time for the holiday season. Click link below for more information:
Three Blows to Monsanto
1. Many are fighting the debate with Monsanto about the safety of their products. This month California’s Environmental Protection Agency officially decided to list glyphosate (the main ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp Herbicide) as a carcinogenic chemical. This will require the state to add it to a published list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. It will also require Monsanto to add a warning label to all their products containing glyphosate.
3. Monsanto produces many products that are questionably safe, and they are currently involved in numerous court battles concerning them. One product, much like Roundup, is an herbicide called Lasso. It took years for the French court to come to this final ruling on a lawsuit between a grain farmer and business giant Monsanto. The farmer claimed he became disabled with permanent neurological health issues after being exposed to Lasso, including memory loss and headaches. It was not long after his exposure that France pulled the product from shelves due to its possible dangers. Monsanto failed to provide any warnings on the product label and experts agreed that exposure to the product most likely caused his detrimental side effects. The court ruled in favor of the farmer, and Monsanto is required to fully compensate his losses.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines a food desert as a “low income census tract where a substantial number of residents have low access to a grocery store.” When residents live more than a mile from a supermarket and have limited access to a vehicle or public transit it limits their food source to what is directly around them, which is usually fast-food and gas station food. It is not surprising that obesity and diabetes rates for those living in these areas are considerable higher than other areas. According to a 2009 report by the USDA, an estimated 23.5 million people in the U.S. live in a food desert. First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign pledged to eliminate food deserts in America by 2017 but the progress is slow. Many people living in food deserts can’t afford to wait until 2017 to get access to fresh food, so some non-profit organizations, like the four profiled below, are forming to help the cause.
Making A Difference
Rappers Jadakiss and Styles P from the group The Lox have taken the initiative to open healthy juice bars in the inner cities of N.Y. where healthy and affordable food options are not usually available. Jadakiss says:
“walking down the block in the ’hood, it was nearly impossible to find something healthy to put in your body.”
They opened their first Juices for Life in the Bronx in 2011. They now have a second location in Yonkers, N.Y. In addition to serving healthy juices made from fresh fruits and vegetables they hope to educate others on health awareness. Their inspirational story is profiled by Elite Daily in this video.
When a health educator at the MGH Charlestown Healthcare Center in Boston MA kept hearing from families about the difficulty of shopping for healthy food in their area, he did some research and created a mobile grocery store, aka Fresh Truck. Since their launch in 2013, they have sold more than 17,000 lbs of fresh food to low-income neighborhoods that welcomed them with open arms. Their website states:
“We have a big vision for the future of food and healthcare, and we are only just getting started.”
When various non-profit organizations came together in Baltimore City MD to research and develop ways to address the nutritional needs of the community, The Real Food Farm Mobile Farmers Market was born. In 2010 their first crop was harvested and they have been supplying neighborhood markets, their own mobile market trucks, and home deliveries with fresh, local, seasonal fruits and vegetables ever since.
Two grad students, Carrie Ferrence and Jacqueline Gjurgevich, from a business school focused on environmental and social sustainability, were given an assignment to create a business idea that would address a need in their community. They agreed to work on the obvious need for more healthy food accessibility in Seattle WA South Park neighborhoods. Their collaborative brainstorming resulted in the idea of using old shipping containers as stores for healthy food options. They titled their prototype stores Stockbox. The remodeled shipping containers are a mere 160 feet square, making it easy to place in the confinement of a city. However, only one or two people can shop at the same time comfortably. Stockbox opened two more permanent stores in Seattle in 2012 and 2013.
“Imagine living in a neighborhood with no fresh produce nearby and then suddenly a miniature store filled with wholesome items appears. It’s almost like bringing a lake full of clean drinking water to a barren desert.”
There are many more organizations out there doing their part to provide healthier options to food deserts. One common realization from all these movements is that providing physical access to healthy food does not alone solve the issue. These programs pair the provision of food with educational programs for the community, teaching them about nutrition, agriculture, and food systems. The programs not only want to provide accessibility, but to increase familiarity with healthy foods and knowledge on how to cook with them.
10 Must Watch Health Documentaries
One Green Planet published a list of The 10 Best Documentaries That Will Make You Rethink Everything You Know About Food and Health. Here are the ten titles:
- Food Inc
- Forks Over Knives
- Food Matters
- Supersize Me
- Simply Raw
- The Future of Food
- Hungry for Change
- Fat Sick and Nearly Dead
I have watched four of these ten and, after reading the reviews and comments, cannot wait to watch the others!
This time of year, who doesn’t love to curl up with a warm cup of steamy soup, especially if you are feeling a little under the weather? Isn’t the thought of a delicious soup simmering away in your kitchen instantly comforting? Unfortunately, most commercial canned and boxed soups are not as healthy as they claim – even those labeled organic. That is why Craig Fear, creator of the site Fearless Eating, has put together an informative book on how easy it is to make your own healthy, nutritious soups and broths in the comfort of your own home. It includes 60 quick and simple recipes including 5 basic bone broth recipes. Not only does bone broth taste good, it provides an abundance of essential nutrients, healthy fats, and minerals. Broth has numerous health benefits such as anti-inflammatory and gut-healing proteins, improving joint issues, and more. Soups are a great way to get essential nutrients into every member of your family, and, with 60 different recipes to satisfy any taste you are in the mood for (Asian Noodle Soup anyone?), you should purchase this book here and get cooking!
Apple & Pumpkin Recipes
With Autumn comes pumpkin and apple treats galore. Here are some unique and delicious healthy recipes to satisfy your fall flavor cravings!
How can you go wrong with the words healthy, pumpkin, and cheesecake? These amazing looking muffins are low calorie, low sugar, gluten free and high in protein! The recipe can also be made vegan friendly. They are quick to make and perfect to grab for breakfast, snack or dessert! (I would totally consider them for lunch and dinner too)
A cool, refreshing desert or snack that can be made in minutes! Low Carb, Gluten Free, Grain Free, delicious and healthy! I bet this would be amazing frozen into
pumpkin pops for the kids!
A perfect soup for this time of year! This easy to make meal contains not only fruits and vegetables, but nourishing bone broth as well! It is kid-friendly and a delicious way to get a variety of nutrients into your diet!
The sweet flavors of caramelized apples and onions simmered together create a warm, guilt free comfort food as a healthy meal or side dish to enjoy.
Thank you for reading this month’s edition of Perfectly Interesting Health News. Stay tuned for a fun halloween edition next month!
Do you have a favorite apple, pumpkin or other seasonal recipe? Please share!