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Center Point healing, where I have been seeing clients for the past 2 years, has just moved from Hyattsville to College Park!

We are now located at 7309 Baltimore Avenue, Suite 119, College Park, Maryland 20740.

The new space is much larger and will accommodate more practitioners offering acupuncture, Chinese herbs, massage and nutrition counseling, AND the new digs will have a classroom for all of us to offer workshops and ongoing classes.

Stay tuned for upcoming classes and stop by to take a look!

 

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As some of my close friends could attest, up to a year after my return from living in rural Nicaragua, a trip to a supermarket was traumatic for me; I would become catatonic after a simple trip down the breakfast aisle at the local grocery store. There were just so many boxes, so much stuff to read and way too many choices. It took me several years and a lot of research to realize that in spite of all those apparent choices, with most any purchase of cereal, I was handing money over to one of four global food corporations.

According to Food and Water Watch, Kellogg Co., General Mills, PepsiCo and Post Foods control 79.9 percent of cereal sales, making shoppers hard pressed to find a box of cereal that is not owned by one of these big manufacturers. So, guess what? As long as our hard-earned dollars are primarily going to huge food companies, the real “choices” we are left with in the cereal aisle are more about how much sugar, artificial flavorings and pesticides we want to ingest first thing in the morning.

Nutritionally, most of the cereals that populate the breakfast aisles of grocery stores are loaded with highly refined carbohydrates that may satisfy you for a couple of hours, but lack enough grams of protein to get you past 11am. I am a big advocate for a good, high protein breakfasts. Moreover, most cereals are made with corn or wheat, two grains that dominate a nutritionist’s list of common allergens, and the farmers’ lists of crops needing the highest quantities of pesticides. To learn more about the cereals’ typical ingredients, see: Do I know what I’m eating?

I don’t watch a lot of broadcast television – so I have been isolated from most of the marketing that TV-watching-consumers see daily… but I have been taken in by more than one supermarket display…. The displays at the ends of the aisles (I call them end-caps) in supermarkets are highly valued supermarket real estate; these end-cap displays encourage impulse purchases.

Think about it – items offered on end-caps are not lined up with other options – so you as a consumer no longer have the handy capacity to compare prices with similar products. More than once my assumption has been that items displayed on end-caps are sale items and the best deal. According to Food and Water Watch, more than one-sixth of grocery purchases are tied to brand display advertisements, which are typically some of the most expensive items.

When it comes to breakfast don’t be taken in by marketing campaigns sponsored by one of 4 major food industries. Here are some basic rules:

  1. Eat breakfast.
  2. Make sure that protein is featured in your breakfast.
  3. Limit added sugars in your breakfast choices.
  4. Eat breakfast within an hour of waking.
  5. Drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages only after you have “broken your fast” (I always advice to ensure that there is at least some kind of food in your stomach before taking in caffeine).

To find out more about why I give this advice, subscribe to my blog.

Right around now in the mid-Atlantic region community farmers’ markets are starting up and running throughout the summer. I am a huge fan of farmers’ markets – a great place to get locally grown fruits and vegetables. Stay tuned for updates – I will be doing some cooking demonstrations here in PG county and elsewhere as the summer rolls out….

This past year, I have been volunteering at Unity Health Care giving some nutrition education talks to low income families who struggle to put good food on the table. So, today I am sharing with you this announcement from the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace – one place in the area that’s working on making farmers’ markets accessible to this population. Please take a look, donate and pass it on!

Just $25 dollars can DOUBLE the fruits and vegetables purchased by one low-income family for an entire month. Donate today to help families access healthy, affordable food!

The Columbia Heights Farmers’ Market officially kicked off its 5th season on April 19th. Last year, the farmers market matching funds program provided over $13,000 to make it easier for low-income families to eat healthy and stretch their food budgets. It’s simple. If a customer spends $5 on fruits and vegetables at the market using Federal nutrition benefits like food stamps, we provide an additional $5.

  • $5 in food stamps = $10 in healthy fruits and vegetables
  • $10 in food stamps = $20 in healthy fruits and vegetables

The program reached more than 1,200 families in the last two years alone. But now it needs your help to make sure these families can benefit again this year. See their appeal in the following video:

We need to raise $10,000 by May 21st to ensure that low income families can access healthy, affordable food for the entire 2014 market season.

Every dollar helps, so please donate today. Many thanks for your support, and we’ll see you at the market!

October 16 is World Food Day, a day dedicated to education about world hunger and possible solutions. For the past two decades small producers, and family farmers have been developing the concept of food sovereignty, based in the belief that all people deserve a say in how their food is produced, as well as the right to grow and produce it themselves through ecologically sound and sustainable methods. This notion, developed by the international peasant group, Via Campesina, is getting some traction this month as October 15 is the date chosen for the awarding of the Food Sovereignty Prize in New York City.

Photo by Krista Zimmerman, LWR

Photo by Krista Zimmerman, LWR

This year’s food sovereignty prize will go to the Haitian Group of 4, Dessalines Brigade/Via Campesina. In 2007, Haiti’s largest peasant organizations—Heads Together Small Farmers of Haiti (Tet Kole), the Peasant Movement of Papaye, the National Congress of Papaye Peasant Movements, and the Regional Coordination of Organizations of the South East Region—joined forces as the Group of 4 (G4), a national alliance to promote good farming practices and advocate for peasant farmers.

The G4, representing over a quarter of a million Haitians, invited South American peasant leaders and agroecology experts to Haiti to work cooperatively to save Creole seeds and support peasant agriculture. Together, the G4 and the Dessalines Brigade, as it became known—named for 19th-century Haitian independence leader Jean Jacques Dessalines and supported by La Via Campesina—have collaborated to rebuild Haiti’s environment, promote wealth and end poverty. The partnership also provided immediate and ongoing support to the victims of the 2010 earthquake, and the Group of 4 made global headlines when they rejected a donation of hybrid seeds from Monsanto.

The Food Sovereignty Prize is a project of the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance, which is made up of member organizations, including Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Food First, Grassroots International, Why Hunger, and many more groups. Now in its fifth year, the prize was created as a way to provide a counter-balance to the fact that in the past several years the well-publicized World Food Prize has gone to large industrial agricultural projects which exclude peasant farmers both in their engineering and their implementation. The Food Sovereignty Prize is meant to draw attention to the kind of alternatives that people in peasant communities around the world are creating to address the very specific challenges they face.

Recognizing that nearing a billion people around the world are struggling with chronic hunger, and that a hungry world can never be a secure and just world, Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN) introduced the Global Food Security act of 2013 (H.R.2822)  in early August. The bill is basically a roadmap on global food security directing the president to develop a comprehensive, multi-agency strategy focused on improving nutrition, strengthening agricultural development and ensuring smallholder farmers access to inputs and training, as well as updating the Foreign Assistance act of 1961 to include a renewed focus on women, nutrition and smallholder farmers. This is a valiant effort to get Congress more intimately involved on how the United States acts to promote food security through its feed the future programs.

While the bill’s focus on women farmers and small holder farmers is indeed welcome, just days before its introduction language around promoting agro-ecological methods was dropped out of the bill. These methods are preferred by smallholder farmers in less industrialized countries because they recognize that a “one-size-fits-all” approach is not possible. Even though program descriptions seem to broadly recognize smallholder methods, current Feed the Future policies and programs favor more industrialized and less labor intensive methods that are dependent on new inputs from non-local sources.

Local farmers far prefer agro-ecological and biologically diverse systems to address problems related to climate change, resource scarcity and to avoid fossil fuel dependency. Although their work is seen as labor intensive, smallholder farmers around the less industrialized world see themselves as champions of their own food sovereignty; their work offers them a vehicle for escaping hunger and poverty and a deep sense of dignity that they are providing solutions to their own problems. 

Read about the Food sovereignty prize at: http://foodsovereigntyprize.org/; Learn more about the Global Food Security Act at: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c113:H.R.2822:  

Last Sunday, my classmate Josh Smith and I gave a presentation at a parish in downtown F&F-KM-Teach-DSC_4757Baltimore organized by the Baltimore Food and Faith Project, supported by the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future. While I did mention this in my previous blog, I did want to give a shout out to the good work of the Baltimore Food and Faith project — working with faith communities, religious schools, and faith-based organizations to address social and economic justice in the food system as well as ecological care.

Josh and I were welcomed by a fantastic group of people eager to learn more about how to combine making healthy food choices with more sustainable living.

F&F_apple-chop_4734On the menu were 50 lbs of apples donated by the Baltimore Orchard Project, an organization dedicated to bringing productive fruit trees and fresh fruit to neighborhoods throughout Baltimore;  by doing so, they are working with local neighborhoods and faith communities to create a greener and healthier city, and more resilient neighborhood communities.

 

We all have a right to food, and to know exactly what’s in our food, but sometimes polices, practices and perceptions get in our way of actually being able to put safe, nutritious and enough of it on our tables. LaDonna Redmond, long-time community activist and senior program associate at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Food and Justice program lays out what these issues are in this TEDx talk….

Enjoy!

Protein-rich Breakfast #5Part of the protein-rich breakfast dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (0 g protein; $8-12/ 16 oz jar)
  • 1 egg (6 g protein; $3.29/dozen);
  • 1 cup of spinach (3 grams; $2.99/10 oz bag)

How to: Clean and chop spinach into small, fine threads and place in a bowl. Break open one egg and add it to the spinach beating it together with spinach. Heat coconut oil in frying pan, and when warm add the spinach egg mixture as well as salt and pepper to taste. Mixture is ready when egg is thoroughly cooked (dry rather than runny consistency).

NoteYou can substitute olive oil for coconut oil if you prefer. I include coconut oil here because I have found that cooking breakfast with coconut oil gives me an extra boost of energy. Myra Kornfeld (my cooking teacher last semester) also says that coconut oil’s medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil can boost the body’s metabolism because medium chain fatty acids are quickly converted to energy, rather than being stored in the body fat like other dietary fats. Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which has several healing and anti-viral qualities. Coconut oil is an extremely stable oil which can be heated to high cooking temperatures without forming harmful bi-products. And it’s an ecologically sustainable oil. Coconut trees produce between 50 and 100 nuts per year. They can grow in challenging conditions like drought, poor soil, etc.; they begin yielding fruit at age six, and continue to produce fruit for about 55 years more.  Coconuts are ecologically sound, as they are able to grow in difficult environments, such as atolls, or under conditions of high salinity, drought, or poor soil. You can buy coconut oil in two varieties: virgin, which has the flavor of a coconut (great for Tai cooking), and a filtered variety which is neutral-tasting.

9 grams protein; total cost: $6.28

Cornucopia Institute’s New Report, Cereal Crimes has given me reason to continue to ask that question. As I kid I remember loving my bowl of cereal in the morning, and as I grew and went off to college, graduate school and professional life I know my tastes in cereal have changed, but cereal is often just what I want for breakfast. For years now I have taken issue with just how sweet most brands of granola have become so within the past year, I have started making my own homemade granola.

I am super grateful for my bowl of rolled oats as I read through Cereal Crimes and the scorecard that accompanies it. Sugar was just one of the ingredients that I had to worry about! It turns out that when a company lists “natural ingredients” it doesn’t have to list the amount of herbicide and pesticide are sprayed on those ingredients. In contrast, “Federal law requires that organic food products be produced in ways that promote ecological sustainability, without the toxic inputs and genetically engineered ingredients that are common in the conventional food system” (Cornucopia Institute 2011 p. 5).

If you believe that industrial agriculture is great because it ensures that we have plenty of cheap food to choose from in the marketplace, think again about its environmental cost. The The Losing Ground Website set up by the Environmental Working Group tells the story of soil erosion which leads to dangerous pesticides and herbicides making their way into streams, ground water, and eventually our drinking water. Go to the website and watch the video! Then consider whether or not the 2012 Farm Bill has any impact on your life! 

March 8 is International Women’s Day. Women around the world struggle for having power over simple decisions that heavily affect their lives and the lives of the their families and children. Below I am sharing a video clip of Raj Patel, a writer whom I like, as he explains the concept of “food sovereignty” and how it differs from “food security. He also explains why it is so important for women in particular to maintain power over choosing the food they and their families eat.

Today also happens to be Mardi Gras, so while you are living it up – remember the many women around the world and celebrate reclaiming power with them.

Health & Nutrition Counseling

An integrative approach to health and nutrition which includes Earth consciousness.

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