Friday, April 24, 2009

NYC and Health

This is your one-stop place for accessing information on programs and services offered through the City of New York: ACCESS NYC

Here's the NYC Department of Education SchoolFood and NYS Child Nutrition Knowledge Center - tons of links for grants that schools can apply to, etc etc.

Here are some resources on reducing obesity and diabetes in NYC that I learned about at a conference at the CUNY Graduate Center:

Publications by the Public Health Association of NYC

Of particular interest are these few:
Reversing Obesity in NYC - includes some great statistics on obesity and fast food, and advocacy strategies (and here's a shortened version)
Reversing the Diabetes and Obesity Epidemics in NYC

Here are resources from the District Public Health Offices. There are DPHO's for East & Central Harlem; North & Central Brooklyn; and the South Bronx. They have regular meetings that anyone can attend, if you are interested in voicing your opinions. You can check out the NYC Food and Fitness Partnership website and sign up for their mailing list here.

Also, here's a blog on healthy things going on in NY from New York Cares -

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Don't understand Twitter? This article in the NY Times explains why it's used; this webpage explains how to use it.

Healthy children

Healthy Directions, an affiliate of Cornell, is leading the Healthy Children Healthy Futures campaign that came up with these "8 Habits of Healthy Kids." They are:

1. Spend at least 1 hour a day being physically active
2. Spend less than 2 hours a day watching TV and playing video and computer games
3. Eat at least a total of 5 fruits and vegetables a day
4. Snack on healthy foods and less junk food and sweets
5. Drink or eat at least 3 low-fat dairy foods a day
6. Drink at least 2 glasses or bottles of water a day instead of soda
7. Eat smaller amounts - bigger is not better
8. Eat less fast food (2 or less times per week) and make healthier fast food choices

In addition, here are some other interesting sites that I've come across:

"It's a Healthy Habit"
This is Public Health
Story of Stuff
Dr. Dolgoff's Weigh
Alliance for a Healthier Generation
Bike paths in NYC and surrounding areas

Green Map

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Healthy Fundraisers

I know of a few great resources for alternatives to selling unhealthy foods in schools for fundraisers.

Developed by the NYC Department of Health's Strategic Alliance for Health: Yes You Can! A Fresh Look at Healthy Fundraisers for Schools

Another is by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI):

and another is by California Project LEAN: Creative School Fundraising Ideas

Additionally, one of the schools I work with in the Bronx (PS 218) has successfully been selling dried fruit as a fundraiser, instead of candy/junk food. The brand they've been using is Brothers All Natural.

Banning GMO taro in Hawai'i

I didn't know about the possibility of GMO taro appearing in Hawai'i, but it's good news to hear that it's getting banned, at least for the next 5 years. I visited Hawai'i a few years ago for a month-long Transcultural Foods & Cuisine class (be jealous, I know), and the spiritual significance of letting the sacred plant grow unaltered, in its natural state, definitely rings true. Taro is used to make poi, a bland purplish paste that is used to balance out other flavors in the meal, such as salty pua'a (pork).

If you'd like to see some pictures of Hawaiian food that I took while I was there, see here. (Slide 44 has the taro & poi being prepared by a wondrous man named Butch at the Ka'ala Cultural Learning Center in the majestic mountains of O'ahu.)

Stomping on taro plants with your bare feet is quite a fun experience!


Food, Inc.

I just had the opportunity to view a screening of Food, Inc. - what a well done documentary! I felt like I had seen it before - if only because Michael Pollan was very much apart of making the movie, and he did such a good job laying out all of the hot issues in The Omnivore's Dilemma. Pollan made Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm come to life in his book, but to pack it all into 1.5-2 hours that can be easily watched on a screen definitely has the potential to reach a lot more people than would bother reading such a heavy book. It didn't matter that I hadn't eaten dinner before watching the movie, because I didn't have an appetite after it anyway; after seeing the awfully unhygienic, graphic descriptions of how meat is made. The meat that you buy in the actually see footage of the slaughter and the processing that goes on - not to mention the terrible living conditions & corn diet that *ruminant* cows are fed. Come to think of it, it seems quite impossible to eat sustainably by shopping in a supermarket. The aisles of food are really just rows of corn and genetically-modified Monsanto soy re-packaged cleverly to look like thousands of different branded foods, and even the produce comes from all ends of the earth and is laden with pesticides and God knows what else. Oh yeah and by the way, Monsanto has produced herbicides, DDT, and Agent Orange for the US Military operations in Vietnam, which has led to birth defects, as well as various health complications for veterans.

The movie airs June 12, but in the meantime you can watch the trailer. When the movie comes out, go watch it and tell everyone you know to watch it too!

From Food, Inc.: 10 Things You Can Do to Change Our Food System

  1. Drink fewer sodas and other sweetened beverages.

Fact: If you replace one 20 oz soda a day with a no calorie beverage (preferably water), you could lose 25 lbs in a year.

  1. Eat at home instead of eating out.

Fact: Children consume almost twice (1.8 times) as many calories when eating food made outside the home.

  1. Support the passage of state and local laws to require chain restaurants to post calorie information on menus and menu boards.

Fact: Half of the large chain restaurants do not provide any nutrition information to their customers.

  1. Tell schools to stop selling sodas, junk food, and sports drinks.

Fact: Over the last two decades, rates of obesity have tripled in children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 years.

  1. Meatless Mondays…Go without meat one day a week.

Fact: An estimated 70% of all antibiotics used in the United States are given to farm animals.

  1. Buy organic or sustainable foods with little to no pesticide use.

Fact: According to the EPA, over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the U.S.

  1. Protect family farms, visit your local farmer’s market.

Fact: Farmers markets enable farmers to keep 80 to 90 cents of each dollar spent by the consumer.

  1. Make a point to know where your food comes from – READ LABELS.

Fact: The average meal travels 1500 miles from the farm to your dinner plate.

  1. Tell Congress that food safety is important to you.

Fact: Each year, contaminated food causes millions of illnesses and thousands of deaths in the United States.

  1. Demand job protections for farm workers and food processors, ensuring fair wages and other protections.

Fact: Poverty among farmworkers is more than double that of all wage and salary employees.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Service Dog for Norma!

"Save one life, and you save the world entire"

Hey guys!

My mom's dear friend Norma's service dog Sasquatch died recently. Norma had a virus which spread to her brain and left her disabled. She lives in Manchester, NH and is a trained concert singer, but the virus has also left her without the lung capacity to sing.

If you are at all familiar with service dogs, these pups become like family/nurse for people with disabilities. So when Sasquatch lost his battle with cancer, it left Norma with the grief of losing a best friend plus the problem of needing a new service dog. Training raises the price for these canines, and Norma needs $9500 to achieve this.

I feel a lot of you probably have good networks to send this to, and this is a trustworthy cause. a) Norma's a dear family friend b) I loved Sasquatch. It is a true loss and also vital to help her.

But I think that together, dollar by dollar and the power of networking and the internet we can help her out. Let's see how fast we can get this done!

Read her story here.

You can immediately donate through PayPal & ChipIn

And lastly, could you pass this along to people who might be able to help?

Thanks for your help guys,


(Here is a recording of her singing back in the Philippines for a hit record there )

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tweet What You Eat!

Check it out! Tweet What You Eat...web-based food diary!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Changing the systems

I found today's topics to be great ones as usual, but at least today I have time to write about them. The first one is about justice in the prison system. A couple of excerpts I found particularly good:

"What significance did 20 years have? From my perspective, we need to reevaluate this misguided concept of justice that only recognizes time. Ours is a society that strives toward enlightenment, yet we incarcerate more people per capita than any other nation."

"I propose that we stop relying upon the turning of calendar pages to measure justice. A far more effective corrections system would measure justice by the efforts an offender makes to reconcile with society. Such a system would require a fundamental reform."

"Warehousing humanity doesn’t reduce crime. Education reduces crime."

And here's a video by Tony, a homeless veteran who describes why he panhandles and how he makes ends meet:

Tony from invisible people on Vimeo.

Thankfully, I can be proud of my Representative, John Hall, who yesterday got President Obama to approve the veterans programs he's been supporting since coming to Congress. Read more about it here.

This doesn't mean we should continue to ignore the people on the streets (as we're all guilty of doing more often than not, I'm sure), but it least the video of Tony gives us some insight into their lives so we can understand where they're coming from. Let's help prevent this from happening by improving the education system and the prison system, and help get these guys off the streets and into jobs, such as these green-collar jobs discussed by Van Jones.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Connect with legislators through social media

I took this from an email from the American Heart Association. I think there are some great tips. Yay for social media connecting the world!

Congress Does Social Media

Have you heard? More and more legislators are using social networking tools to communicate and stay connected with constituents! An unofficial count had nearly 400 members of Congress using Facebook, and we know that many are twittering, and also using YouTube to communicate as well. Are yours?

We’re encouraging you to reach out to your legislators and see what they are up to in the social networking world. If you belong to Facebook, you can search for your legislator and send them a friend request or become a fan of their page. This will help you stay connected to them and will allow you to share the issues you care about. You can post things on their walls or share your story!

Twitter has also become very common for legislators to keep followers up to date on what they are working on and what’s happening in the halls of Congress. Maybe they are about to vote on a bill you care about or back in your district holding a town hall meeting. Find them on Twitter and follow their updates!

YouTube is another social medium that legislators are using. Again, by doing a search on their name you can watch, rate, and share the videos with family and friends to keep everyone informed on what your legislators’ positions are on issues you care about.

Epigenetics and Health Disparities

Ever consider the connection between genetics and health disparities? Well, me being a science nerd and being fascinated by genetics ever since high school and all, I'd like to share this posting with you: Epigenetics and Health Disparities. I see this as an intersection of nutritional genomics and public health genomics. Looking at the food environment the fetus is exposed to before it's born, and how this shapes the new individual's later ability to metabolize food. In other words, how the "effects of discrimination on maternal stress physiology" ultimately contribute to health disparities (read: chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease). Fascinating, and a great cutting-edge topic for future exploration...

Here's a more lay-audience friendly description of epigenetics.