Category Archives: Health

Thanksgiving 2012: How to Stay in Shape This Thanksgiving Day

As Published on PolicyMic

This week is Thanksgiving. For some of us, it is a day to feel good about ourselves by writing depressing blog posts in a dark room and claiming that we were the first ones to ever argue that the Pilgrims killed the entire Native American population on the Third Thursday of every November. For others, who are apparently not cool enough to skip out on a big feast with their friends and families, it is a day to eat, drink, and be merry and thankful for the blessings and virtues in our lives.

But how much eating and drinking is too merry? As a gym rat and one of the few males in this world who wants to get an RD, I wrestled with which side to advocate for on the crowded American dinner table. Should we overindulge ourselves when our country has record high obesity rates and portion sizes that eclipses as recent as the 1980s? Or should we be conservative by replacing Thanksgiving hallmarks with more healthy ingredients?

My conclusion, you ask? Eat till your heart’s content!

The purpose of Thanksgiving is to celebrate family, friends, fortunes and opportunities through the sacred food pathways of our own unique family traditions and culture. All I ask is that we care about the person sitting at our dinner tables and refuse to go to Target after we devour our turkey.

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Filed under Culture, Health, Policymic

Eat Up! Foodlnk Kickoffs Summer Meals with Rochester Rhinos

As Published in the Democrat and Chronicle’s Young Professionals’ Blog

Three-hundred eighty Rochester youth were served summer meals from Freshwise Kitchen, Foodlink’s catering company, at last week’s Summer Meals kickoff at Excellus’ Rhino Stadium. Participant’s enjoyed a wholesome main dish of chicken, baked potatoes, apples, cold slaw, whole wheat rolls and chocolate milk, along with a hearty side order of hopscotch, double-dutch, face painting, inflatable play space and soccer with the Rhinos’ team. If that weren’t enough, Rochester’s youth and their chaperons were even given goody bags and two free tickets apiece to either the Rochester Rhinos’ game from this past Saturday or the Rattlers’ Lacrosse for Friday night.

The kickoff epitomized what a young active and healthy day looks and feels like— even beneath the blistering sun. As an AmeriCorp VISTA, hunger advocate and gym enthusiasts, I had a great time double dutching — or at least “twirling” (turning the rope) — with the kids and sharing a few laughs. It’s both fulfilling and daunting to know that so many of our youth live in households that rely on Foodlink and school meals to provide the most basic living necessity of all: food.

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Filed under Democrat and Chronicle, Health, Philanthropy, Social Justice

Foodlink’s 9th Annual Washington Square Park Farmers’ Market Packs Local Foods and Tunes Downtown

As Published in the Democrat and Chronicle’s Young Professionals’ Blog

Imagine live blues tunes echoing betwixt Downtown Rochester’s edifices, the scent of honey roasted nuts intoxicating pedestrians with every summer breeze, and all wrapped into the scenic atmosphere of a public park. Now, imagine this happening on a weekly basis, from 11 am to 2 pm, at the heart of Rochester, NY.

For nine years, this scene has been more than a phantasm. Yesterday afternoon, Foodlink kicked off its 9th annual Washington Square Park farmers’ market, which is sponsored by Excellus BlueCross Blue Shield and ESL Credit Union. From Xerox and Excellus employees to bikers and area college students, the market commenced with an impressive first day turnout. Vendors from Lagoner Farms, Florida Nut House and Special Touch Bakery offered an array of locally produced comfort foods to Rochester residents. Add a touch of smooth sets from local blues band Danny and the Rebel Rockers and you have yourself an unrivaled shopping experience.

Foodlink’s Washington Square Park farmers’ market is a part of a large trend across the nation. With a 150 percent increase since 2000, there are currently 7,000 farmers’ markets offering fresh local foods nationwide. The vast majority of the 7,000 markets accept EBT cards, or food stamps, so that those who face low food security can have quick and easy access to fresh foods. In addition to making healthy foods more accessible, the markets also support local farmers.

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Filed under Democrat and Chronicle, Health

Disney Works its Magic: No More Junk Food Ads

First Mayor Bloomberg; now Disney.

This week, the Walt Disney Company took a bold step in the same direction as NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg by challenging the too big to constrain culture of the unhealthy foods’ industry.  In an utter display of its trademark corporate social responsibility, Disney will start banning the advertisement and marketing of foods that do not meet their nutritional standards. By 2015, all of the Fruit Loops and Happy Meal commercials that I grew up watching during ABC’s “One Saturday Morning” will be nothing more than an old memory.

Walt Disney’s ban takes Bloomberg’s gesture a million steps further. Not only are fast foods and sugary cereals banned from their airwaves, but all unhealthy foods that do not meet Disney’s criteria will be cut. That includes Capri Suns, Kraft’s Lunchables and the likes. In the most ideal outcome, the ban will accomplish two things: (1) Disney’s competitors—Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network—will follow suit; (2) companies will be forced to create more healthy products if it wishes to get back to marketing to children. Read More

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Mayor Bloomberg’s Ban on Sugary Beverages Works Where the Feds Have Failed

As Published on PolicyMic

There has been a lot of buzz on the streets of New York City surrounding Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to ban sugary beverages larger than 16 ounces, at food providers regulated by the New York City Health Department. The recurring question is whether or not the government is overstepping its boundaries when it regulates what we can and cannot put into our bodies.

The short answer? There has never been a time that our government or municipalities did not regulate what we consume. In fact, legislations such as the Farm Bill even detrimentally contribute to obesity by subsidizing the mass production and inclusion of high fructose corn syrup — which many medical studies critcize for the addictive effects it has on nervous systems — into virtually everything that we eat.

The real questions that New Yorkers should be asking are: (1) Is this ban effective? And (2) Why aren’t the higher powers in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) fulfilling their role of addressing the public health of our nation?

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My Day at the Chase Corporate Challenge

As Published in the Democrat and Chronicle’s Young Porfessionals’ Blog

Nearly 10,000 people in one location for only a brief moment in time. I could never imagine seeing so many different shades, ages, shapes and sizes gathered in one spot in Rochester. The only time I’ve ever seen anything remotely close to the volume and diversity of yesterday’s crowd was at a John Legend concert at R.I.T. two years ago. But yesterday’s tune was not that of a Grammy Award winning pianist; it was the rhythmic sound of breathing and rubber soles pounding on the rocks and granite of R.I.T.

Three-hundred ninety-nine very different companies, ranging from debt collectors to plumbers, packed the college campus for the annual Chase Corporate Challenge — Foodlink was one of them. The atmosphere was one that was eerily familiar to NYC — could it be that Central Park’s Road Runners were supplanted in the ol’ Genesee? Can Rochester possibly have a space where all these organizations of different sizes can set up tents, grill, pop brews, vibe to music, network and enjoy one another? Fortunately, I was proven wrong; unfortunately, it only happens about once a year.

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Obesity Food Deserts Have Given Way to Food Swamps

As posted on PolicyMic

The concept of “food deserts” is constantly being qualified and refuted by economists and public health commentators from all corners. Is there really limited access to fresh produce in impoverished communities? Is junk and fast food really cheaper than a holistic nutritious meal? Or is it all an unqualified stereotype that society has blindly accepted over the years?

A recent study by RAND Corporation senior economist Dr. Roland Sturm questions the link between food deserts and childhood obesity. His theory is simple: there is an abundance of healthy food options in impoverished communities, so the correlation between poverty and obesity can hardly be linked to the concept of “food deserts.” In fact, Strum and New York Times’ journalist Gina Kolata question whether or not food deserts even exist. Read More

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