Busy news week….

First, just for fun, “Cakes Gone Wrong,” which has a fun link to CakeWrecks.

Now on to the more serious links.

Let’s take a close look at the new “Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation.” The objective:

The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF) is a unique partnership between retailers, non-profit organizations, food and beverage manufacturers and trade associations aimed at helping to reduce obesity. The HWCF will promote ways to help people achieve a healthy weight through energy balance – balancing calories consumed as part of a healthy diet with calories expended by physical activity – in the places where they spend much of their time: in the marketplace, in the workplace and in schools.

Sounds like a great plan, in theory. Here is what participating companies have agreed to do:

Participating companies are committing to build on existing efforts and will be making changes to their products, packaging and labeling to make it easier for consumers to manage their calorie intake while preserving or enhancing overall nutrition quality. Specific options companies may undertake include product reformulation and innovation; providing smaller portions; redesigning packaging and labeling; placing calorie information on the front of products; providing consumers with information and educational materials; and in-store promotion of the initiative.

However, if you look at the members’ list, it is composed mainly of huge agribusiness-type producers of processed foods. I will be watching closely to see how many of them actually “reformulate” their food products into real food rather than simply taking the easier route and repackaging, relabeling, reportioning. One of the first examples is Coca-Cola planning to put their calorie count on the front of the bottle. Hm. I don’t know a single Coke drinker that will be deterred by this. It makes me wonder how the calories in Coke can be counted as “calories consumed as part of a healthy diet.”

It will be interesting to track, but I fear that this foundation is mostly about fooling the public into believing that these companies care about their health while still convincing them that they need these food products – it is, after all, all about these companies losing money if people realize that their products are NOT part of a healthy diet, right?

Want a surer source of the basics of a healthful diet? Try the USDAs Farmers’ Market Search or go to LocalHarvest.

Some interesting and disturbing stats at the CDC’s Fruits & Veggies Matter site.

And finally, a controversial study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health mentioned in several places in the UK: “Are working mums’ children fatter?” both at NHS and NetDoctor. I’m not sure the study really reached any conclusions, and I’d have to say that working mothers have enough trouble without being blamed for their children’s obesity problems…. Or maybe I’m just sensitive, being on the verge of returning to PT work myself?

Friday List of Links

Hurrah for the newest farmers’ market in DC, welcomed by Michelle Obama: “Instead of Traffic, Fresh Tomatoes.” (Also includes a video link.)

Slow Food USA posted about the USDA’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative.

HealthyChild.org launched a new interactive online guide, “Eat Healthy.”

But on a sobering note, a truly horrifying story about water pollution near large-scale dairy farms: “Health Ills Abound as Farm Runoff Fouls Wells.” Still not disgusted enough? Be sure to watch the slideshow and video links in the article – do those cows look healthy and happy? Do I want them producing the milk I feed my family? I don’t think so….

Health care: conventional medicine, or chiropractic?

Since college, I have been a firm believer in chiropractic: it treats the root of many symptoms, unlike conventional medicine, which often throws medication at symptoms without healing the cause of them. So I was deeply impressed by Michael Pollan’s op-ed piece, “Big Food vs. Big Insurance” in the New York Times in response to Obama’s speech on health care:

One of the leading products of the American food industry has become patients for the American health care industry.

The market for prescription drugs and medical devices to manage Type 2 diabetes, which the Centers for Disease Control estimates will afflict one in three Americans born after 2000, is one of the brighter spots in the American economy. As things stand, the health care industry finds it more profitable to treat chronic diseases than to prevent them. (emphasis mine) There’s more money in amputating the limbs of diabetics than in counseling them on diet and exercise.

As for the insurers, you would think preventing chronic diseases would be good business, but, at least under the current rules, it’s much better business simply to keep patients at risk for chronic disease out of your pool of customers, whether through lifetime caps on coverage or rules against pre-existing conditions or by figuring out ways to toss patients overboard when they become ill.

His conclusion – repair the food industry, and repairing health care will follow:

…passing a health care reform bill, no matter how ambitious, is only the first step in solving our health care crisis. To keep from bankrupting ourselves, we will then have to get to work on improving our health — which means going to work on the American way of eating.

But even if we get a health care bill that does little more than require insurers to cover everyone on the same basis, it could put us on that course.

For it will force the industry, and the government, to take a good hard look at the elephant in the room and galvanize a movement to slim it down.

Why can’t we treat the health care issue as a chiropractor would, removing the cause of the symptoms, rather than throwing good money at the symptoms, which won’t go away until the cause is treated?

101 Ways to Wok Your Dog?

Repulsive as the idea may be to you and me, scientists have now forged a theory that dogs may originally have been domesticated in China – for meat: “In Taming Dogs, Humans May Have Sought a Meal.”

Friday List of Links

Wow – what a novel idea: a TV show that is trying to promote healthy snacking and reduce childhood obesity! I almost wish we watched television…. Kudos to Disney Playhouse for  Tasty Time with ZeFronk – I checked out their snack recipes and found them pretty good, with a minimum of processed ingredients.

Still have time to fit in a short break before the official end of summer? How about a “haycation?”

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine has published a position paper on GM foods – read it here.

Via Ann Arbor Natural Awakenings, I was interested to find an older article in the Christian Science Monitor regarding the greening of lunchrooms, from K – college: apparently the simple act of removing trays from the cafeterias can reduce food waste by an averagle of 25-30% per person!

Friday List of Links

Good news from the front: “Interest in organic food on the rise in China”

Some thoughts on why celiac disease is on the rise: “Why is celiac disease getting more common?”

And finally, a resource I’m determined to explore: National Center for Home Food Preservation (includes an online course!)

On the calendar this weekend: Chinese ratatouille?

Friday List of Links

Still unpacking, managed our first home cooked meal in 2 weeks last night, but wanted to note a few pieces that caught my interest while we were on the road:

More on Will Allen: “Street Farmer”

“Say No to Raw Cookie Dough” (Darn! I love the stuff. More incentive to make those changes to oversight…and to buying pastured, wholesome eggs and making your own cookies from scratch!)

How Michelle is faring on the Obama’s trip: “In Mother Russia, She’s 1st Lady of Gardening”. Thanks to John Hershey of RakishWit for passing this along. Who’s weeding the garden in Michelle’s absence?