New Hip Hop Video Undescores What’s at Stake in the Food Fight

Health advocates and food advocates struggle with ways to make a dent in the obesity epidemic in this country. One thing we know is that there is no one size fits all program or initiative that is going to reduce the number of obese or overweight people. In communities of color–where one  in five children are obese or overweight–including nuanced and impactful and resonating messages that work hasn’t been easy.

Recently, musician, and Bay Area food activist  AshEl put his concerns about the way we eat to music, in the song Food Fight! He asked filmmaker Ben Zolno, of New Message Media, to help him create a music video for the song. Read more

Trayvon Martin and Getting at the Roots of Food Justice

This is not a food story. On the surface the only real connection this story has to food is that a young man named Trayvon Martin was at a convenience store buying Skittles and iced tea. If it was a food story, we would be shaking our finger at him for eating junk food. We’d be scolding the neighborhood for not providing him a fresh, affordable apple. But instead, because he–a young, unarmed black man wearing a hoodie–got murdered, this isn’t a food story, but a story about justice.

As a health writer who often talks about the links between what gets grown and what gets put on the plate, I consider myself an advocate. I want to see people eating good food in close proximity to their homes. It never occurred to me that walking to the store—no matter what you go there to get–could get you murdered. And as a person who cares about justice, I never thought that in 2012, our system would care so little about seeking justice for this boy. He was somebody’s son. As the mother of a young black male who often walks to the convenience store by our house, my heart is broken.  Read more

Eat to Defeat Cancer

Would you change the way you eat if it kept you from getting cancer or stopped the disease in its tracks? Could you see yourself adding more sustainable, fresh local foods to your diet every day if it might prolong your life?  Cancer researcher Dr. William Li, of the Angiogenesis Foundation, thinks you can.

Li’s work revolves around looking at the way that our blood vessels–every person has around 60,000–deliver oxygen and nutrients to the all our body’s organs, but can also feed cancers and grow tumors in the body. To prove his theory about the preventative powers of healthy food, his Angiogenesis Foundation has kicked off an Eat to Defeat campaign, that has a goal of signing up one million volunteers who are willing to increase their intake of healthy foods, and to become a part of his research. Read more

Sistah Vegan: A Rethinking of Race & Food

Blogger, author and Ph.D. candidate A. Breeze Harper has brought together a group of black women writers to deconstruct the notions of veganism in Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books, March 2010). In this book, she and 30 writers addresses veganism, often thought of as a white construct, as a way of life for many black women and a core part of their values. This book broadens the view of the vegan from the perspective of race, class, gender and politics. Read more

If You Give A Kid A Cupcake: A Comment on the Bakesale Brouhaha

Through a very sophisticated mathematical calculation, I have figured out that I have baked 1,532 cupcakes, cookies and little gooey pecan thingies for school bake sales. I hated every minute, but I did my tour of duty. And yes, I cheered when the last of my kids hit middle school and it became uncool for his mom to show up with cupcakes for any reason. But even I am horrified that bake sales are on the chopping block in the fight against childhood obesity. Bake sales? Really?

In New York, school officials are working to create a policy that would limit bake sales. In an effort to reduce childhood obesity, they are looking to ban baked good sales from schools, with the exception of one day per month or after 6 p.m. when very few people are around to buy or sell their wares. Instead, PTAs and other groups will be allowed to sell fresh fruits and vegetables along with some packaged items that are on the district’s list of healthy snacks.  Doritos are on the list. A chocolate chip cookie baked by Grandma, not so much. Read more

Cook More Save More

Last week I spent $200 on food. I was traveling in Washington D.C., and the money was spent on two meals, just for me. The meals were great, but shelling out that kind of money, when I am committed to reducing the amount I spend, was a little shocking. It gave me a real sense of gratitude for the $130 I spent the week before for a week’s worth of groceries for my family of four.

In these interesting economic times, everybody is looking at ways to save money, and with rising health care costs we are also looking at ways to stay healthy. The answer seems to be in forgoing restaurants—both the big ticket and the fast food kinds, to spend more time in the kitchen and in the garden. Read more