By WorldLink Staff | March 4, 2014 | Leave a Comment
Why does school food matter? Kathleen de Chadenèdes, director of the Orfalea Foundation’s School Food Initiative, explains how meals can make a difference and what can be done to change the way children eat.
What is the School Food Initiative and what is your vision?
The mission of the School Food Initiative is to empower the public schools of Santa Barbara County to implement and sustain nourishing cook-from-scratch food service operations. We envision that given our inputs of culinary training for food service workers, grants for equipment and infrastructure, ongoing technical support by a team of chefs in the field and garden-based food literacy education, school food service operations will be financially viable, students will be offered appealing, nutritious food choices and food literacy will be a valued part of a student’s education.
By WorldLink Staff | January 23, 2014 | Leave a Comment
The package says “All Natural,” “Organic” and “Fat Free,” so it must be healthy, right? Not so fast.
In this video, pediatrician Nadine Burke reminds us to always read the Nutrition Facts label on the back of a package. As the good doctor puts it: “It’s your body. Figure out what’s going into it.”
Do You Know What’s In Your Food?
Learning to read nutrition labels means taking charge of your health. To make more informed food choices, follow these simple steps:
- Read the ingredients list first. In general, the fewer ingredients the better. Keep in mind that ingredients are listed in order of predominance, so if sugar (or some unpronounceable additive that sounds like a chemistry experiment) shows up in the top few spots, think twice about putting that product in your shopping cart. Remember, you might find sugar hiding in a product’s ingredient list under a variety of names—sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, fructose, glucose, dextrose, sucrose, honey, molasses, and evaporated cane juice among them. (And many foods include several sugars, which results in their being listed lower in the list.)
- Check the sodium content. Limiting sodium is important because too much sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes. Food labels recommend that the average American adult should consume about 2,000 calories per day, and the Institute of Medicine recommends an upper limit of 2,300 milligrams of daily sodium intake for healthy, young, white adults and 1,500 milligrams for most other adults. To make it easy, let’s say the ratio of sodium to calories should be about 1:1. So if a product contains 100 calories per serving, it should also contain about 100 milligrams of sodium—or, better yet, less.
- Check the fat content. Because fats of all types are easily stored by the body, too much dietary fat can make us overweight and lay the foundation for a host of other problems, including heart disease, cancer, and adult-onset diabetes. In addition to checking the number of calories per serving, check the number of calories from fat: If it’s more than 30 percent of the total calories, it’s higher than the USDA recommends. Don’t be fooled by front-of-the-box claims such as “99% fat free!,” which are based on percentage of weight, not percentage of calories.
Have any other tips you’d like to share? Join the conversation on Facebook.
- How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label, from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- Guide to the Nutrition Facts Label, from the American Institute for Cancer Research
- Reading Food Nutrition Labels, from the American Heart Association
- 5 Ways to Decode Food Labels at the Grocery Store, from Oprah
By WorldLink Staff | November 11, 2013 | Leave a Comment
Fast food may be cheap, convenient, and tasty at first, but does it truly nourish us? In this video from Nourish Short Films, chef Jamie Oliver explains why fast food leaves our bodies hungry for something more.
What’s your favorite healthy “fast food”? Join the conversation on Facebook.
What Can You Do?
We get it. You’re busy. We’re busy, too. Most of us would happily cook a nutritious, delicious meal if it meant we could skip filling out those expense reports for the boss, mowing the lawn, and hauling the kids to soccer practice.
We’d eat better if we only had the time. But we don’t. And so we steer into the drive-through, order the fried combo #4, and try as hard as we can to convince ourselves that it’s no big deal to indulge in fast food “just this once.”
But it is a big deal. Through the miracle of modern science, many fast food items are products that are designed to enlist your body’s own physiology in a campaign to turn you into a repeat customer. Pretty quickly “just this once” becomes twice, or three times, or four.
That’s why it’s crucial to have a Plan B. Some suggestions:
- At home: Stock your pantry and refrigerator with quick, nutritious options such as breads, cereals, pasta, and prepared pizza crusts; fresh, frozen, or no-added-salt canned vegetables; fresh and dried fruit; and quick-cooking whole grains such as 10-minute brown rice and couscous.
- At work: None of us has extra time to spare in the morning, so pack your lunch the night before when you’re cleaning up from dinner. (Remember, leftovers—with one new ingredient added to keep them fresh—make great lunches.) Don’t get stuck in a sandwich rut; mix up your menu with hot and cold foods, too. Soups, stir-fries, and spaghetti will stay warm in a Thermos, while a cold pack (or, better, a frozen water bottle) will keep yogurt or hummus cool for dipping cut vegetables.
- On the go: All of us have made poor food choices when we were starving and our next meal was nowhere in sight. Equip yourself with healthy snacks—nuts, dried fruit, or trail mix, for example—to save yourself from a junk food binge.
And, as always, shop wisely!
By WorldLink Staff | July 15, 2013 | Leave a Comment
In this short film, chef/author Bryant Terry suggests a few simple things all of us can do to work toward a more just, sustainable food system.
1) Grow your own: Even if you don’t have a yard, you can grow many herbs—and even some vegetables—indoors or in a window box. Gardening at home is not only educational, economical and therapeutic, it may actually lead you to enjoy meals more due to the work you put in. (Behavioral economists humorously call this the IKEA Effect.)
2) Support local farmers: Shopping at a farmers market or food cooperative, joining a CSA, or visiting a nearby pick-your-own farm can help conserve energy, educate kids about where their food comes from, and build community by bringing you face-to-face with the people who nurtured your food from seed to harvest. To find sustainably grown food in your area, go to localharvest.org and type in your zip code.
3) Food is for sharing: Most people agree the best meals are those enjoyed with family and friends, and we would extend that principle to growing, shopping for, and preparing food. All of these activities are opportunities to teach, learn, and make connections. Frame cooking as a social activity rather than a chore and see how quickly people’s attitudes change about spending time in the kitchen.
By taking small steps to build your relationship to the people and processes that define the lifecycle of food, you’ll begin to see more clearly the sometimes hidden links between seemingly disparate parts of the broader food landscape. As they reveal themselves, the bigger picture becomes less daunting and opportunities for systemic change become easier to identify.
Of course, these are only Bryant’s top three; obviously there are plenty of other small practices we can adopt that can lead to big changes. What other action steps would you recommend to people who are ready to roll up their sleeves in support of good food? Join the conversation on Facebook.
By WorldLink Staff | June 25, 2013 | Leave a Comment
As America’s farmers retire, there are fewer new farmers to take their place. Lindsey Lusher Shute, Director of the National Young Farmers’ Coalition, discusses why this matters and what can be done to foster the next generation of farmers.
Why do we need more young farmers?
Lindsey Lusher Shute: The nation’s farmers are retiring faster than they’re being replaced, and a quarter of all farmers are expected to retire in the next twenty years. This situation has major implications for food security, the health of our rural places, and our farming traditions.
What are the biggest challenges facing the next generation of farmers?
Lindsey Lusher Shute: Capital and land top most young farmers’ lists, followed by health insurance and student loans. Because so many farmers discouraged their children from farming over the past thirty years, many young farmers are coming from non-farming backgrounds. With no land or equipment to inherit, these farmers are starting from scratch and face big obstacles to getting a business off the ground.
With land prices skyrocketing across the country, finding an affordable and stable place to settle can be a tremendous challenge. In terms of capital, there are more lenders willing to take the risk with new farmers, but still not enough. Even when farmers can get a loan, many are very concerned about how they’ll make it through the first years when they’re figuring out their farm systems and developing a market.
By WorldLink Staff | May 20, 2013 | 1 Comment
How is human health connected to the health of our soil? Farmacology author and physician Daphne Miller explores the wisdom of farming and how it relates to you.
In your first book, The Jungle Effect, you examined diets from all over the world. How did that exploration change your own diet?
I have a much more expansive idea of what it means to eat healthy. So many of us are seeking the “right” way to eat and what I’ve discovered is that there are many ways to eat well . . . as long as you’re not eating the standard American diet. Some diets (like the Icelandic one) are somewhat higher in animal products while others (like the Tarahumaran diet) are mainly vegetable and grain based — but they all produce healthy people.
I also discovered that traditional recipes make sense not only because they taste great, but because they offer healthy combinations of ingredients and are the most ecological way to cook. Think about it . . . these are recipes that have survived generation to generation because they use in-season, locally available ingredients that are tasty and keep people feeling happy and fit.
What is Farmacology?
Farmacology is an invented word that combines Farming and Pharmacology. It is meant to capture the idea that a farm, at its best, can be the source of powerful medicine. The book Farmacology is an exploration into the many ways that our health is connected to the health of the farm. What I discover is that this connection happens on two levels: the art and science of farming offers us valuable farm-to-body health lessons and that the farm itself gives us a whole array of healing foods.
By WorldLink Staff | May 9, 2013 | Leave a Comment
Remember that old adage you heard a million times growing up? “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” It may seem like a gross oversimplification, but as journalist Michael Pollan points out in this bite-sized video, the link between our dietary habits and our healthcare spending has become impossible to ignore.
We pay less for our food than any people anywhere in the history of the world and, as Pollan says, “You get what you pay for.” The lesson of “No Free Lunch” seems to be that you can pay now or you can pay later, and when you consider the fact that four of the 10 leading killers in the United States are chronic diseases linked to food, it’s hard to argue.
Before you get depressed, realize this is good news. It means that the solutions to big problems are in our power to control. Want to help solve the health care crisis? Eat well. It’s just that simple.
Share your thoughts on “No Free Lunch” on Facebook.