December 2011

15 Dec 2011

Think Globally, Eat Locally

Locavore became a word in the Oxford American Dictionary in 2007 and is defined as a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food.

In an age of increased use of pesticides and other food contaminants, people are buying locally in order to make healthier choices, to support local farmers, and to help the environment.  There are several ways to buy locally, whether by a local farmer’s market, a community supported agriculture subscription (a weekly local delivery of produce), or participation in a co-op. 

Many corporate facilities now offer gardens that are maintained by employees. The food they grow is then harvested and included in their company cafeterias.  School gardens are another great way to promote eating locally as well as teaching kids at a young age that the taste and quality of home-grown local produce far beats the 1,500 mile trek their cross country produce makes, eliminating the gas guzzling of buying out of your region.   

"Local food is often safer, too," says the Center for a New American Dream (CNAD). "Even when it's not organic, small farms tend to be less aggressive than large factory farms about dousing their wares with chemicals."

The mantle of Locavore does not just apply to fruits and veggies.  Meats and poultry from local farmers tend to taste better, are fresher, and small farms tend to use fewer hormones and other additives than big meat packers do.  They also tend to grow more variety than the big farms, which creates and protects biodiversity.

According to a San Francisco-based group of Locavores intent on supporting people’s wish to better their lives and their families’ lives, the following are helpful suggestions:

If not LOCALLY PRODUCED, then Organic. This is one of the most readily available alternatives in the market and making this choice protects the environment and your body from harsh chemicals and hormones.

If not ORGANIC, then Family farm. When faced with Kraft or Cabot cheeses, Cabot, a dairy co-op in Vermont, is the better choice. Supporting family farms helps to keep food processing decisions out of the hands of corporate conglomeration.

If not FAMILY FARM, then Local business. Basics like coffee and bread make buying local difficult. Try a local coffee shop or bakery to keep your food dollar close to home.

If not a LOCAL BUSINESS, then Terroir, which means 'taste of the Earth'. Purchase foods famous for the region they are grown in and support the agriculture that produces your favorite non-local foods such as Brie cheese from Brie, France or parmesan cheese from Parma, Italy.

For those tech-savvy locavores, www.getlocavore.comeven has an app for smart phones available on itunes where consumers can input their zipcode and see where and what they can buy locally.

Try it today!

05 Dec 2011

Bringing Your Wellness Programs into the Trenches

According to a recent story in USA Today, an Ohio third grader who weighed 200 pounds was taken from his parents’ home and put into foster care because his mother "was not doing enough about his weight."

An Obesity Doctor from Boston's Children's hospital said removing a child from the home is not a matter of finger pointing and blame, but rather a way to get the overweight child the help that their parents can't provide. According to the article, there are discussions afoot as to whether parents of extremely obese children should lose custody of the children. According to the article, the medical community appears to be agreeing that yes, the government should get involved in cases of extreme overweight for the child's sake.

This brings up an interesting dilemma in a time in American history when not all children are expected to outlive their parents due to obesity and the resulting possibilities of type-2 diabetes, liver, and breathing issues that could kill them before they reach the age of 30.

Whether or not you agree that the government should intervene and remove children from their parents, the issue shines a bright light on the fact that corporate wellness programs must be a family affair. Employees need to take the tools and knowledge that they learn in the workplace and bring them home to their families and children.

Crystal Witte is a registered dietician who works with kids and parents to teach healthy food preparation and balanced nutrition. She urges parents to get the kids involved in food prep at home so they develop a first-hand understanding of food and nutrition. She encourages parents to let the children make their own lunches, and then provide feedback as to what the lunches are missing or have in excess. Witte also offers information on the dangers of nitrates, processed foods, trans fat, and sodas. She painted a clear picture by holding a bag full of 17 teaspoons next to a Pepsi, driving home the point graphically, a great way to reach the kids.

This grassroots, in-the-trenches approach is what's needed in our wellness programs, right now. The staggering statistics of the prevalence of obesity in America and in our children add up to eventual death sentences and catastrophic health issues for both your current employees and your future ones. Are your employees not only learning about proper nutrition, but taking their findings home? Let’s work together to teach our kids the lessons we’re learning now, before it’s too late for them. Start healthy habits early!