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Not Your Grandfather’s Disease: Youth Change the Conversation About Type 2 Diabetes

Most young people consider diabetes a “grandfather’s disease,” inherited at birth. They don’t always know that there are two very different forms of the disease, and that type 2 diabetes is preventable. This lack of awareness has staggering implications—between 2000 and 2008, rates of diabetes and prediabetes among Americans ages 12 to 19 shot from 9 percent to 23 percent.

That’s where the The Bigger Picture comes in. Youth Speaks, a San Francisco based arts nonprofit that empowers teenagers through poetry, teamed up with the University of San Francisco’s Center for Vulnerable Populations in 2010 to launch a project that encourages young people to “raise their voice and change the conversation around type 2 diabetes.” Read more

Dangers of Dicamba (VIDEO)

On the heels of California’s Proposition 37 and the national debate over genetically engineered (GE) food, pesticide companies are continuing to push to legalize new types of GE crops linked with powerful pesticides. Farmers like Indiana’s Troy Roush are objecting to such a shortsighted approach to agriculture. There are currently 13 new GE crops pending USDA approval, the most threatening of which may be Monsanto’s Dicamba Soybean. (Other crops include Dow’s 2,4-D Corn and 2,4-D Soybean, and the non-browning “Arctic Apple.”)

Why the need for new seeds? The first GE seeds were introduced in 1996 and adopted widely. Instead of having to rotate crops, farmers could spray the herbicide RoundUp to kill weeds while the GE plants survived. Gradually the weeds adapted and herbicide-resistant weeds now affect an estimated 12 million acres of farmland (about half the size of Indiana), and that number is growing rapidly. Read more

Reflections on The Perennial Plate: An American Road Trip

On May 9, 2011, my girlfriend and I set out from Minneapolis on a road trip across the country.  The journey was not for sightseeing, instead we were on a mission: To tell stories about “real food” in America.  From that moment on, every week for a year, we released a 5-10-minute video about sustainable food across the country for our online documentary series, The Perennial Plate. The last video from our road trip was recently released.

We haven’t just been profiling young farmers and back-to-the-landers, we have been engaging with folks who went organic because they had gotten sick from conventional food, or fished and hunted because it was their only option.  Our broad scope of stories let us encounter every type of American that was in search of good food.

Along the way, we found no shortage of people to film.  Upon our departure we called out to the interweb for ideas and were flooded with stories from across the nation.  Armed with this catalogue and our own interests in experiencing the inspiring and the unique, we set off. Read more

Hunting for Invasive Species, with The Perennial Plate (VIDEO)

In the event of a nuclear disaster, zombies taking over the planet, or industrial food collapse, you’d want to be friends with the subject of our latest film. It’s a meditation on survival and the beauty of doing things that are no longer necessary, but still worth doing. It takes place on a fall day in Andalusia, Alabama where we (The Perennial Plate crew) collected invasive Corbicula Clams with Jimmy and Sierra Stiles. After wading in the river looking for the creatures, we cooked them over a fire… made by hand. Watch: Read more

Vote for Meatless Mondays! (VIDEO)

Americans eat more meat per capita than nearly any other nation in the world, and it shows. Whether you’re a vegetarian or meat-eater, it seems all of us agree that it would be better for public health, the planet, and animals if the Standard American Diet (SAD) incorporated more plants and fewer animals.

Fortunately, that’s what’s starting to happen, as Meatless Mondays are catching on all across the country. From school districts to hospital cafeterias to restaurant chains, more Americans are experiencing the benefits of meat-free fare. And now a great video from the Humane Society of the United States explaining the why, who, and how of Meatless Monday has been nominated for a DoGooder award! You can vote for the Meatless Monday video the “Large Organization” category here. Watch the video: Read more

New “Labels Matters” Video by Food, Inc. Director Robert Kenner

The Just Label It campaign today launched a new video by Food, Inc. filmmaker Robert Kenner that empowers consumers to fight for their right to know what is in their food. The video, “Labels Matter,” is the result of collaboration between the Just Label It campaign and Kenner’s new project, FixFood, a social media platform that aims to empower Americans to take immediate action to create a more sustainable and democratic food system. Read more

Michael Pollan: New Food Rules, But No Need to Be Neurotic (VIDEO)

Sometimes a spoonful of sugar does, indeed, make the medicine go down. Though you won’t find that catchphrase in the just-released hardcover edition of Food RulesMichael Pollan‘s best-selling little eater’s manual.

Food Rules does sport the whimsical and witty illustrations of well-known artist Maira Kalman, however. And the new book also boasts 19 new rules—many gleaned from eaters around the country that Pollan wished he had thought of and included the first time around.

Take two is again full of commonsense kitchen wisdom such as If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re probably not hungry; and When you eat real food, you don’t need rules.

The takeaway message: food need not be complicated, and the act of eating is as much about pleasure and communion as it is about nutrition and health. In other words: lighten up a little and enjoy your dinner. Read more